Fergie brushes off Rooney issue

As Ferguson again scrapped his general Friday press conference,

only a very limited number of people got to ask for his assessment

of Rooney’s declaration this week that he has not been suffering

from an ankle injury, which his manager cited as the reason for his

omission against Valencia and Sunderland prior to the international

break. And while Rooney’s statement has been interpreted by most

outsiders as a challenge to Ferguson’s authority, the Red Devils

chief certainly had no intention of being drawn into a wider

conversation today. As Ferguson is scheduled to face the media on

Tuesday before the Champions League encounter with Bursaspor, he

will presumably expect more persistent questioning then. For now,

he is dealing with the matter on his terms only. “It is water off a

duck’s back to me,” Ferguson told Key103. “I don’t know where all

these things come from. He is always in the spotlight and being

discussed by the press. It is important how you handle it in my

experience. “But it just runs off me. It doesn’t mean anything.” Of

more irritation was Steadman’s declaration on Wednesday that Owen

Hargreaves would make his comeback in tomorrow’s Premier League

clash with West Brom. Ferguson has always praised Steadman’s

ability at rescuing players whose careers appear to be in jeopardy.

United were happy to let Steadman treat Hargreaves for an extended

period after the operations on both knees in October 2008 that were

geared towards some kind of a recovery from the tendinitis problem

that has plagued his since before an £18million move from

Bayern Munich three years ago. Ferguson even sent Hargreaves back

to Steadman for more rehabilitation work this summer when the

29-year-old suffered a setback in pre-season training. However, as

the midfielder approaches a comeback many view as his final chance

of continuing his career, Ferguson has found it rather less welcome

that Steadman’s opinions have strayed away from medicine and to the

football field. “We are having difficulty with the doctor in

Colorado coming out with statements that are not accurate,” said

Ferguson. “It is not fair to the player for him to say Owen is

going to be playing tomorrow. “It is ridiculous. I pick the team

and I have been doing it for quite a while. “We have this small

interference, which is causing some confusion. “Owen is not ready.

He is out with a calf injury.” Although Rooney’s presence in

Ferguson’s team to face West Brom has been questioned, it really

would be a provocative move to leave the England star out again,

even if his recent poor form continued at Wembley on Tuesday. At

the start of nine games in 29 days, Ryan Giggs is ready to return

from a hamstring injury to give Ferguson a few more options,

although a combination of the new Tuesday international dates and a

larger than expected number of players in training over the past

couple of weeks has provided United with some valuable preparation

time. “It is unusual to have so many players during an

international break but it is very welcome,” said Ferguson.

“Dimitar Berbatov has retired, Patrice Evra is still suspended by

France. The Da Silva brothers were here and Gabriel Obertan, plus

the older lads who have also retired, so we had quite a few. And

with a Tuesday match as well it means we have an extra day to get

the players prepared. Ferguson accepts the need to be prepared as

well. Although United are defending a 100% home record, they remain

under pressure because of their failure to win away from Old

Trafford. Four straight draws has seen them slip five points adrift

of leaders Chelsea and get leapfrogged by Manchester City, so a

repeat of Arsenal’s home defeat to Roberto Di Matteo’s side last

month simply cannot be tolerated. “You have to recognise that

performance at the Emirates Stadium,” said Ferguson. “To score

three goals there tells you something. “This will be a tough game,

make no mistake.”