Sir Alex Ferguson has defended Manchester United’s status after Wayne Rooney cited the club’s perceived lack of ambition as his main reason for wanting to leave.
United have been rocked by the news that talismanic striker Rooney is seeking pastures new, while they received a new blow on Wednesday when the England international revealed he did not believe the squad would be strong enough in future to contest for silverware, saying: “For me it’s all about winning trophies.”
Ferguson, who is set to meet with United chief executive David Gill on Thursday to discuss Rooney’s claims and the player’s future, rubbished the striker’s assertions, claiming the club’s young generation will carry it to more success and that he is contacted every week by agents of top players wanting to join the club.
Ferguson has seen big names exit the club previously, with Rooney set to follow the likes of Roy Keane, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo out the Old Trafford exit door. Ferguson has been able to consistently reinvent the squad during his 24-year United tenure, always seeming to respond to questions about the end of United’s dominant era with more silverware.
Rooney’s departure will once again bring claims that United are set to struggle in the near future, with a feeling the club is struggling to manage its debts. United’s failure to reinvest the £80 million earned by selling Ronaldo to Real Madrid could be seen as an example of Rooney’s reasoning that the club lack the capability to stay at the top.
With the careers of United’s world class stars Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar and Rio Ferdinand winding down and now Rooney leaving, Ferguson was asked whether United were finally set for the fall he has defied time and again.
Speaking after his side’s 1-0 Champions League win over Bursaspor, Ferguson said: “To maintain the success at any club is not a certainty. I always believe a four-year cycle is the most you can achieve. Very few teams can go beyond that. Last season we almost did it. We were one point short of winning the league.
“But we realised some time ago that Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville were not going to last forever. Therefore our policy is to develop footballers in the place.”
He then recounted a story from United’s last period of relative decline after 2004, which involved Rooney himself, and included the departures of star names Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
“A player said to me Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were not good enough and he wasn’t prepared to wait,” said Ferguson. “That is the problem with potential. People don’t identify potential. We are very good at it. I have identified it all my life. I know potential. I know where it can be developed and how to develop it.
“I have faith in it. That is what this club is about. When you see Manchester United at the moment, with 14 players under 22, you don’t see the Manchester United for years ahead. We will invest in signature players when the time is ready. We were not ready this summer.”
Apart from one exception, which is thought to be David Villa, who left Valencia for Barcelona.
“There was one player we would have liked to get, but he chose another club,” said Ferguson. “Some players don’t want to leave their country. But Manchester United is a big attraction for any player. In terms of the future of Manchester United, there are a lot of things in my favour. If I told you how many agents phoned me in a week, saying a player would love to play for us – and I am not just talking about run-of-the-mill players – it would amaze you.
“We still have that fantastic romance, and respect from everyone. But we will be OK. I have every confidence. The structure of the club is good. We have the right staff, the right manager, a brilliant chief executive. There is not a thing wrong with Manchester United. We will carry on.”