Fergie not afraid of Rooney exit
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 £80million that prised Cristiano Ronaldo away to Real Madrid.
However, Rooney has 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.
He feels equally at home in the new role as central striker he was handed at the start of the season.
Ferguson bristles at the suggestion that since Ronaldo's departure England's World Cup talisman is now his "main man".
Yet Alan Shearer is not the only one who thinks United would be in trouble without the Liverpudlian, who scored all four goals in Saturday's hammering of Hull and will undoubtedly be the man Manchester City will be most wary of in tomorrow night's Carling Cup semi-final.
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."
While Rooney will provide the cutting edge for United's attack against City, their defence will suffer should they bow to the inevitable and accept a three-match ban for Rio Ferdinand over his attack on Tigers frontman Craig Fagan at the weekend.
The Football Association lodged a violent conduct charge against the England defender yesterday and while Ferdinand could free himself to face City, it would come at the expense of an addition to his suspension should a disciplinary panel deem it "frivolous" when they sit in judgement on Thursday.
It is a blow to Ferguson, who had only just got his £29.1million centre-half back after a three-month absence due to a back complaint.