Wayne Rooney has revealed the trick Sir Alex Ferguson would use in order to manage his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United.
Rooney and Ronaldo’s relationship has been thrust into the spotlight again this week after the former’s appearance on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football. During his appearance as a guest, Rooney suggested United need to move on from Ronaldo in order to become successful again.
Asked whether Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford had worked out, Rooney replied: “You’d have to say no at the minute. I think he’s scored goals, he’s scored important goals in the Champions League early on in the season, and he scored the hat-trick against Tottenham.
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“But I think if you’re looking to the future of the club, you have to go with younger, hungry players to do the best and lift Manchester United over these next two or three years. Obviously, Cristiano is getting on a bit, he certainly isn’t the player he was when he was in his 20s, and that happens, that’s football.”
Rooney’s comments led to Ronaldo hitting back at his former teammate on Instagram. The Portuguese ace left a comment on a post from the Derby boss, suggesting he was “jealous”.
Rooney laughed off the response when asked about it during a press conference. “I would probably say that there is not a footballer on the planet who is not jealous of Cristiano!” he said.
“The career he has had, the trophies he has won, the money he has earned … and the six-pack, his body. I think every player, bar Lionel Messi, is jealous of Cristiano!”
It’s not the first time the pair’s relationship has come in for close examination. Their rivalry first came into the spotlight when Rooney was sitting off against Ronaldo’s Portugal at the 2006 World Cup, with the five-time Ballon d’Or giving an infamous wink to his bench after playing a hand in his red card.
If there was any disagreement between the two though, it wasn’t evident at club level, with the pair helping United to a glut of trophies during their spell together, including the 2008 Champions League. And Rooney revealed earlier this year that it was down to Ferguson’s unique way of handling the pair.
“We actually had [an argument] almost every game, at half-time,” Rooney told LADbible earlier this year. “It’s just he’d see the way the game was going, he’d have a go at me.
“If [Luis] Nani or Cristiano were dribbling along and losing the ball, he’d come in at half-time and have a go at me for dribbling. And he knew that would get me fired up.
“I’m looking, thinking, ‘You joking here? I’ve got these two dribbling constantly, losing the ball and you’re having a go at me?’ and then I’d have to go back at him.
“He knew that it would get a reaction out of me and it was his way of saying to those two: ‘Stop dribbling with the ball’. Because if he said it to these two, there’d probably be tears.
“He enjoyed it, he knew what he was doing. He knew exactly what he was doing, he enjoyed us having a go back because he knew that would fire the rest of the players up. He knew I played on the edge, especially at that time and it got me going.”
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