Fitness, fights & transfer requests - Ferguson lifts lid on Rooney relationship

The former Manchester United boss claims the forward is "not the quickest learner" in an eye-opening assessment of the England international in his new autobiography
By Wayne Veysey

Sir Alex Ferguson claims Wayne Rooney’s great qualities can be "swallowed up by a lack of fitness" in a no-holds-barred assessment of the Manchester United striker.

The former Old Trafford boss has opened up on the England’s talisman in his newly-published autobiography, explaining that the striker is “not the quickest learner” and how his condition can detrimentally affect his performances.

Sir Alex uses the example of when he dropped Rooney for a league match against Blackburn Rovers in December 2011 after being angered by the player’s display in training following a Boxing Day night out with team-mates Darron Gibson and Jonny Evans.

“They came into training the next day weary,” writes Sir Alex. “I went into the gymnasium where they were doing their exercise and told them they would be fined a week’s wages and not considered for selection against Blackburn on the Saturday.

“He would receive no leniency from me. I would hammer him for any drop in condition. It was quite simple – he wouldn’t play.

“In my final year, when he was left out a few times, and replaced in big games, I felt he was struggling to get by people and had lost some of his old thrust."

Sir Alex does not budge from his public stance that Rooney asked to leave United at the end of last season, claiming both the player and his long-time agent Paul Stretford made verbal transfer requests.

“He came into my office the day after we won the league and asked away. He wasn’t happy with being left out for some games and subbed in others. His agent Paul Stretford phoned David Gill with the same message.

“I left him to discuss his future with David Moyes, hoping to see many more great performances from him at Old Trafford.”

In a fascinating passage of the book, Sir Alex said Rooney would get worked up if he was singled out for criticism by his manager.

“I admit I gave Wayne a few rollickings,” writes the former United boss in My Autobiography, which is published today by Hodder & Stoughton.

“And he would rage in the dressing room when I picked him out for criticism. His eyes would burn, as if he wanted to knock my lights out.

“The next day he would be apologetic. When the anger subsided, he knew I was right – because I was always right, as I liked to tease him."