Wayne Rooney yesterday admitted that he realises the enormity of what he almost threw away by threatening to leave Manchester United and reflected that the club's ascent to a possible Premier League and Champions League double has vindicated his decision to put his faith in Sir Alex Ferguson and stay.
"You know, when you look at it now, how wrong was I?" Rooney said in the aftermath of the 2-0 win in Schalke on Tuesday which has all but confirmed United as Champions League finalists. "We are one step closer now to the final and with the league we are in a very strong position. I am 100 per cent committed to this club."
Rooney's rehabilitation in the eyes of those United fans who see his "October revolution" as a means of securing a better contract is by no means completed, but his 13 goals in 28 games have seen him deliver on the promise to repay them through his performances. "Obviously I understood that I made a mistake. I admitted that and I apologised for that and moved on and I have wanted to try and prove myself again to the Manchester United fans," Rooney said. "Obviously it's been a lot different [in the second-half of the season, compared with the first].
"I think the fans have been really good and I'm grateful to them for supporting me through it and I'm delighted with my form at the minute."
He admitted that he did not dream of United's current position when he said on 20 October that he doubted the "continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world" and "win trophies". What no one – least of all Rooney – appreciated at that stage was precisely what value Javier Hernandez was about to bring to the club. On 20 October, he had started only four games and scored twice in competitive games. Against Schalke, the partnership with Rooney looked more irresistible than ever.
Discussing their rapid blend, and his own new role as an old-fashioned No 10 operating behind the Mexican, Rooney said: "I obviously saw and understood Chicharito [Hernandez] and the way he plays and I knew if I was playing up front with him I would have to change and maybe play a bit deeper and try and link the play a bit.
"It has worked for us. He's been a fantastic signing and has scored a lot of goals – important goals as well – and I'm enjoying getting on the ball and linking play and getting a few goals."
Is this a poor United team compared to previous Champions League vintages? Not according to Rooney. "If I'm being honest I think we are controlling games a lot better than we probably were in the lead-up to the [2008 and 2009] finals. Before, we were about counter-attacking and a lot of pace and now I think we are having a lot more possession."