MANCHESTER UNITED manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s yesterday emphatically retaliated in the war of words with Wayne Rooney, accusing the unsettled striker of going back on his word and disrespecting the club.
Ferguson broke his silence on the controversy with a six-and-a-half-minute statement in which he revealed Rooney informed United he wanted to leave back in August, leaving the Scot “dumbfounded”.
He also suggested Rooney, who will miss tonight’s Champions League clash with Bursaspor through injury, had been unprofessional since then and failed to show loyalty to a club that has “done nothing but help him”.
And he insisted, contrary to the 24-year-old’s denial last week, that Rooney had been carrying an ankle injury, but rubbished claims the pair had fallen out in any way.
Ferguson emphasised the door remained open for Rooney to sign a new deal, but the striker looks more likely to leave than ever, with mega-rich neighbours Manchester City the favourites to exploit United’s crisis.
Recalling the moment on 14 August when chief executive David Gill told him Rooney no longer wanted to stay, Ferguson said: “I couldn’t believe it. I just was dumbfounded. I could not understand it because only months before he was saying he was at the greatest club in the world and he wanted to stay for life. I then asked to have a meeting with the boy and he reiterated what his agent had said, he wanted to go. The one thing I said was, ‘Just remember one thing: respect this club. I don’t want any nonsense from you. Respect the club’.
“I don’t know if he’s done that. I have got doubts on that because we’re reading things about falling out with me and all that nonsense. It’s disappointing because we have done everything we possibly can to help Wayne Rooney from the minute he’s come to the club.”
Ferguson’s statement follows days of speculation in which it has become increasingly clear Rooney is determined to leave the club he joined from Everton for £27m in 2004. Aside from City, Chelsea and Real Madrid are tipped to bid for a player whose value will gradually deteriorate between now and his contract’s end in May 2012.
“We cannot quite understand why he would want to leave,” Ferguson added. “We can speculate. We can have opinions. It won’t matter a dickie bird, simply because the player is adamant he wants to leave.”