x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Rooney ‘looking to the future’ past Ferguson claims

"The new coaches have come in and it feels like a new lease of life," said Wayne Rooney, when asked about some of the content in Alex Ferguson's new book, following Manchester United's 1-0 win over Real Sociedad on Wednesday.

Alex Ferguson has walked back a claim that Wayne Rooney asked for a transfer in May.  Jon Super / AP
Alex Ferguson has walked back a claim that Wayne Rooney asked for a transfer in May. Jon Super / AP

MANCHESTER // Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney said he had no problems with claims in former manager Alex Ferguson’s autobiography after inspiring his side to a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad.

In his new book, launched on Tuesday, Ferguson said he became concerned about Rooney’s fitness during his final season at United and reiterated his claim that the 27-year-old striker had asked to leave the club in May.

Ferguson stated that Rooney “asked away”, but in subsequent television interviews broadcast on Tuesday, he conceded that the former Everton player had not submitted a written transfer request.

Speaking after Wednesday’s Champions League Group A fixture at Old Trafford, Rooney told Sky Sports: “He’s come back and corrected the story that I put a transfer request in.

“He’s gone back and proven that I didn’t. He’s obviously got his own opinion. I’ve not seen him since he retired and I’m happy under the new management.

“The other stuff doesn’t concern me. That’s the past; I’m looking to the future now.

“The new coaches have come in and it feels like a new lease of life. We are working to be successful as a team.

“We have a lot of players who are hungry. Results haven’t been what we want, but we’re working to put that right.”

United are eight points behind leaders Arsenal in the Premier League, but the success over La Real left them a point clear of Bayer Leverkusen at the top of their Champions League group with three games to play.

Rooney helped United take the lead after only 69 seconds, with visiting defender Inigo Martinez inadvertently diverting the ball into his own net after the England striker had hit the post following a slaloming run.

Rooney, who celebrates his 28th birthday on Thursday, has found a rich vein of form, and manager David Moyes applauded his recent contributions.

“I was nearly going to say he was back to the old Wayne Rooney, but it might be better if we say it’s the new Wayne Rooney,” said the Scot.

“I think that he’s capable of doing different things. He’s been great around the club. I really couldn’t explain how hard he’s worked; he’s been incredible, the work he’s put in and the extra training he’s putting in.

“Hopefully in the end Manchester United will benefit and -- I don’t know if I’m going to say ‘hopefully’ -- England might as well.”

Rooney was partnered in attack by Javier Hernandez after Robin van Persie was ruled out with minor toe and groin injuries, but Moyes said he expected the Dutchman to be available for Saturday’s home game against Stoke City.

“Robin I hope will be fit for the weekend,” he said.

“He’s had a couple of niggling injuries, even before he went on international duty and they’ve all just caught up on him a little bit.

“I felt if I could get a chance to give him a breather, I would do, and fortunately for us, it worked out fine.”

Wednesday’s game bore worrying resemblances for Moyes to last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Southampton, who snatched a point with an 89th-minute equaliser, and he conceded: “We do need to get a bit more ruthless.”

La Real coach Jagoba Arrasate described Martinez’s own goal as a “terrible mistake” and said his team “never got our game together”.

The result left the Basque side four points adrift of third-place Shakhtar Donetsk at the bottom of Group A and Arrasate hinted that his focus was already shifting towards securing a place in the Europa League.

“I was saying before, mathematically there’s a chance (of qualifying), but now we have to win every game,” he said.

“We’re still trying to get through, but third place I suppose would be a consolation place to at least continue participating in European competition for this season.”