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Ferguson moves to heal Rooney rift

ESPN staff
September 19, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Fergie: Rooney back to his best


Sir Alex Ferguson has finally broken his silence to move to heal the rift with Wayne Rooney that saw the striker try to leave Manchester United.

Rooney attempted to engineer a move to Chelsea this summer after seeing his relationship with Ferguson break down towards the end of last season.

Ferguson, who left the striker out of his starting line-up for March's Champions League last-16 second leg defeat to Real Madrid, insisted Rooney asked him for a transfer before the manager announced his plans to retire.

New United boss David Moyes refused to sell Rooney, however, and the player has responded with a series of impressive displays, scoring three goals in his last two games against Crystal Palace and Bayer Leverkusen.

And Ferguson, who watched both games at Old Trafford in a director's capacity, has now offered an olive branch to Rooney by lauding his recent form.

"Wayne Rooney's performance [against Leverkusen] was fantastic," Ferguson told MUTV. "I was pleased to see that.

"He's got his energy back. The determination, his purpose to attack players, was all very encouraging to me. Being a director I'm delighted to see that. He's back to what we always remember.

"They won well against Palace. It was a difficult game because many teams come and park the bus. On Tuesday night [against Leverkusen] they were terrific."

Ferguson also hit out at suggestions that he used his reputation to sway referees during his career.

Mark Halsey, who retired from refereeing at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, has, in his book 'Added Time', claimed to have had a good relationship with Ferguson in which he would contact the then United manager.

Halsey's comments have led to claims that Ferguson may have had undue influence during his reign at Old Trafford. Ferguson, though, has denied such suggestions, insisting any support he gave Halsey was down to the referee's battle with cancer.

"I can't believe... obviously there is an Alex Ferguson element in his [Halsey's] book he thought was important,'' Ferguson said. "Most of the managers, particularly in the North-West, supported [him] - and a lot of players by the way - when he had the cancer, him and his wife. It was a terrible period for the lad and quite rightly the football fraternity got behind him and supported him.

"We gave him jersey after jersey for the dinners he was having and of course a Manchester United strip figures greatly in these auctions - a signed strip from all the players.''

Ferguson, who fell out with numerous officials during his time with United, added: "The laughable part for me was how I [supposedly] influenced the refereeing fraternity.

"This is a guy who has the worst record of any manager in the history of English football, fined £100,000 by them, suspended so many times. That's some influence, I must say. It's a little bit Walter Mitty [a reference to the short story about a fantasist].''

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