Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson spoke highly of Wayne Rooney on the eve of the captain’s testimonial match at Old Trafford against his former club Everton. Ferguson and Rooney had a difficult relationship to say the least after several falling outs throughout the nine years they worked together. Rooney signed with United in 2004 and has won a multitude of silverware with the club. Ferguson was on the verge of retirement back in the mid-2000s, but the signing of Rooney helped get the manager to stay and try to form a new team around the Everton youth product.
“He [Rooney] was an exciting signing [in 2004]. It was fairly shortly after I’d got rid of the idea of retiring and changed my mind, and I had to rethink about how we were going to take the club forward.
“When you make the decision to retire, you stop thinking, but once I decided to stay I started thinking again and it was really centred around bringing energy back into the team by looking at young players.
“Of course there was Cristiano Ronaldo, then there was Rooney, and it was a fantastic period. The two of them were unbelievable.
“Wayne came in as a first-team player right away, even though he was only 18, and he’s gone on to play for Manchester United for 12 years, which is very difficult in the present day.
“I always think that great players can play in any era. Bobby Charlton would have been a great player today and Wayne Rooney would have been a great player back then.”
The £25.6 million 18-year-old signing has been loyal and will now captain United under the fourth manager he has known at Old Trafford. Even though there were tough times for Rooney, whether it be form or feud, the Englishman stuck it out and now he is only four goals shy of Sir Bobby Charlton’s club record of 249 goals. Rooney has adjusted throughout his time with United, including several seasons where hope was lost among fans. Even after the end of Louis van Gaal’s two years at United, the manager is still full of praise for Rooney.
“I was very quickly convinced of his personality and that’s why he was easy to work with. I quickly decided he would be my captain because I saw also the attitude of his fellow players towards him.
“They [His teammates] approached him always with a lot of respect and that’s also important when you have to install a captain. It is very important that he is seen by his fellow players as a very important person in the dressing room, and there is no question that he is very important at United.”
Rooney is set for another difficult task getting used to Jose Mourinho in charge of the first team. The manager has appeared to have introduced a cut-throat system at United as he reportedly demoted Bastian Schweinsteiger to the reserves and will sell the German World Cup-winner. The manager could even be set to sell up to eight youth players along with Schweinsteiger. Rooney has to work hard to keep a place in the first team, which is not guaranteed under Mourinho. Rooney’s performance against Galatasaray was not brilliant by any means but the skipper bagged a brace in the 5-2 win in Gothenburg, Sweden. Mourinho’s men take on Leicester City at Wembley on Sunday, August 7 in the Community Shield following Rooney’s testimonial on the 3rd. Mourinho has described Rooney’s achievements with United as “simply incredible” and the compliments from the new gaffer do not stop there.
“Wayne has provided many memorable goals and performances in his time here and I am sure he will provide many more memorable moments for United in the coming years.”