A true champion

Sep 22 2013, 02:24 IST
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SummaryHistory beckons Wayne Rooney if he commits himself long-term at Old Trafford. If he’s still unhappy because of Ferguson’s presence, he must forget the past and move on

It was another ‘Fergie-time’ masterstroke. Sir Alex Ferguson’s first interview since his retirement as Manchester United manager and his elevation as a club director couldn’t have come at a better time.

He spoke to MUTV and the segment that dealt with Wayne Rooney naturally made headlines. “I thought Wayne was fantastic (on Tuesday against Bayer Leverkusen). He’s got his energy back, his determination, his purpose to attack,” said Sir Alex.

“Being a director, I’m delighted to see that. He’s back to what we always remember,” he added.

It was a paradigm shift from what he observed four months ago after the League was won last season. The former United manager had questioned Rooney’s fitness then, left him out of the starting XI in big games and publicly revealed that the player wanted a move out of the Old Trafford.

Ferguson never cared about the big names and big egos because he was bigger than everybody. He demanded certain standards to play for the first team and Rooney failed to meet them last season. He looked unfit and occasionally appeared to be sulking. But like a true champion, he’s back to his best. He looks leaner, fit and refreshed and completely focused on his job. Even a nasty gash on his forehead, protected by a black headband, couldn’t prevent him from going full-throttle.

Credit should be given to new manager David Moyes for thwarting Chelsea’s offers and successfully persuading Rooney to stay at the club. But more than anything else, it was the player’s personal pride that helped him make a successful comeback and prove a point or two to his detractors.

In the first five matches of the season, including the Champions League fixture against Leverkusen, Rooney has scored three goals and made three perfect assists.

He’s once again playing in his favourite position just behind the striker and is no longer being pushed to the left. Moyes is heavily relying on the Rooney-Robin van Persie axis and if the duo maintain their form, then United have a great chance to defend their Premier League title.

Europe would be a tougher proposition with Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid playing at a different level. But United have made a bright start to their Champions League campaign with a 4-2 win over Leverkusen. Rooney scored two in that game and became only the fourth player in the club’s history to reach 200 goals. Only Jack Rowley (211), Denis Law

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