Rooney has scored just one goal for United this season as allegations surrounding his private life have been dragged through the tabloids for weeks. He was left out of the trip to Everton two weekends ago, with Ferguson saying it was unfair to subject him to the abuse of the home supporters, and now the Scottish boss thinks that the reigning Footballer of the Year's focus on the pitch is suffering.
"I don't believe he has a confidence problem but the boy is starting to realise finally, without any question, what kind of focus is on him as a human being," Ferguson told Gazzetta dello Sport. "He is realising what it means to be at the centre of media attention for non-football-related questions.
"I don't think the boy can turn a corner at the moment without a camera on him. He can't move without the paparazzi being on him and, for a young person, that is not what you want. You want to play and enjoy your football without that attention on you, because that can be quite exhausting.
''He would like to keep playing with freedom, but the siege of the tabloids can wear out anyone."