Rooney plays down feud

Wayne Rooney leading out the England players for a training session on Monday. The striker equalled Bobby Charlton’s England scoring record by netting his 49th international goal in a 6-0 win away to San Marino in a Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday.
Wayne Rooney leading out the England players for a training session on Monday. The striker equalled Bobby Charlton’s England scoring record by netting his 49th international goal in a 6-0 win away to San Marino in a Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

England striker reaffirms his belief that Ferguson is the greatest manager of all time

LONDON • Wayne Rooney has buried the hatchet with former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson by labelling the Scot "the greatest manager of all time".

Rooney was dropped towards the end of Ferguson's 27-year Old Trafford tenure in 2013, with the Scot subsequently explaining that the former Everton striker had asked to leave the club for a second time.

But Rooney, appointed United captain by Louis van Gaal last year, said that he continues to hold Ferguson, now a United director, in the highest esteem.

"I don't know if anyone knows how things ended," Rooney told reporters on Monday, ahead of England's Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland yesterday.

"I still see Sir Alex quite a bit at games, and he travels away to European games with us. We had differences. That's normal.

"Ask (England manager) Roy (Hodgson): he's had differences with other players. That's part of football.

"I'm not the only person who had differences with Sir Alex Ferguson, but I can still sit here and say he was the greatest manager of all time.

"It's not that we don't like each other. We just had differences. That's normal."

Right now, it is Hodgson and Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill who are not seeing eye to eye. O'Neill has accused his England counterpart of trying to put pressure on Jack Grealish, after the Aston Villa midfielder refused to make a decision on whether to play for Ireland or England this month.

Grealish, who was born in Birmingham, has played all his age-group football for Ireland, but has twice turned down call-ups to the senior squad.

After England's 6-0 win over San Marino on Saturday that confirmed their place at Euro 2016, Hodgson revealed he had made a personal intervention to try to persuade the 19-year-old to pledge his future to the land of his birth.

"We've spoken to him and what we've said, quite simply, is that we think he is a very talented footballer," Hodgson said.

"We think he could have a very good international career and we would be more than happy if he chose that career to be England.

"I made it clear to him, 'It's got to be your decision, it's got to be something you really want to do and that feels right because I certainly don't want to put you under any undue pressure and I'm not going to resort to artificial means to get you with us and stop you playing elsewhere. I want you to play for England because you want to play for England.'

"Did I expect it (his decision) earlier? I don't know. It would be nice if he says yes and then he would have a year to see if he could knock one or two of these players off their perch. That would be pleasant but there is no time limit."

Asked about Hodgson's comments following Ireland's 1-0 win over Georgia in Dublin on Monday which kept alive their hopes of qualification, O'Neill responded: "That's encouraging, that's encouraging. Roy's not going to hang around. Well done Roy, putting the pressure on."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Rooney plays down feud'. Print Edition | Subscribe