Fergie never feared Rooney would leave Old Trafford
Sir Alex Ferguson never had any fears Wayne Rooney might want to leave Manchester United.
Speculation about Rooney's future has intensified recently as United's financial predicament has been laid bare. With some fans worried how the Glazer family intended to meet their massive interest bill, it was suggested the departure of Rooney was an option given he is the only player at Old Trafford who could generate a similar sum to the world record £80 million that prised Cristiano Ronaldo away to Real Madrid.
However, Rooney put an end to rumours linking him with Barcelona and Real Madrid. And, although he knows where those rumours originate from - suspicion that is bound to be cast in the direction of the Bernabeu and the Nou Camp - Ferguson had no need to be concerned.
"Wayne made his declaration on Monday,'' said Ferguson. "But we knew that. He doesn't want to leave here. We are sure of where the speculation is coming from. It is not his agent and it is not Wayne. But we'll deal with that.''
Ferguson's way of dealing with it when the link between Ronaldo and Real intensified was to famously declare: "I wouldn't sell that mob a virus.'' In the end, he did bow to pressure from suitor and player.
The difference this time around is that Rooney has never given any indication he wants to leave. Even in a newly published website interview he stressed the importance of having his family and friends close by, and Rooney frequently travels from his plush surroundings in the Cheshire commuter belt back to Merseyside to drop in on relatives.
Now on 20 goals for the season, Ferguson feels hitting the 30 mark for the first time is well within the capabilities of a player who stands comparison with anyone else in the Premier League at present. "Wayne is in such great form there are not many matching him,'' said Ferguson.
"There are other good players in the country but Wayne's goalscoring form has put him up in that frame. Wayne has got 20 already and the crucial part of the season is coming up, so he could easily get above 30.''
And the best thing for Ferguson is that the improvement has not come about through an increased devotion to himself at the expense of United as a whole. "He has not become more selfish. He is just developing his game in the right way,'' said Ferguson.
"He realises his main asset to us is being the main striker and he has become more aware of the penalty box. There are still moments when he goes into other areas of the pitch but he is choosing those moments more maturely. The main reason he is scoring the goals is because he is in the right place at the right time. That is what good goalscorers do.''
Ferguson has also asked for the Manchester United faithful to give him another thrill of a lifetime at Old Trafford on Wednesday night against rivals Manchester City.
On Saturday, Ferguson offered his first public opinions on the row that has erupted over the Glazer family ownership of the Red Devils. Having previously declared the successful £504 million bond issue a good thing and then been silenced on the issue due to Stock Market regulations, Ferguson decided ahead of the four-goal defeat of Hull it was time to call for unity.
But, as he looked ahead to tomorrow's powderkeg Carling Cup semi-final second leg with Manchester City at Old Trafford, Ferguson expanded on his theme. "There is nothing wrong with supporters complaining,'' he said.
"If the players play badly, they are quite right to voice their disapproval. If they don't like the performance, they are quite right. If they don't like this or that, it is their right. It is their club.
"But we don't want the divisive part. We want the supporters behind the players all the time because we are coming to the stage of the season where everything is down to what we do as a team. It should always be about the team. That is the most important thing and we should never lose sight of it.
"As we have experienced at Old Trafford so many times over the years, in big game situations, when they are in full voice, it is an incredible experience. Some of the European nights I have experienced here have been the most thrilling of my life. You can't beat them. You all go away at the end of the night totally satisfied that you are at the right place at the right time in your lives.'