Ferguson defends Rooney 'hate' comments

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The Independent Football

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has defended Wayne Rooney over comments that he 'hates' Liverpool.

United face Liverpool tomorrow lunchtime in a match billed as make-or-break for Rafael Benitez's team as the seek their first league title in 19 years.

Yesterday Manchester United's official website published comments in which Rooney, an Everton fan, said he 'hated' his Merseyside rivals.

The comments were swiftly removed, the club claiming they "were open to wilful mis-reporting."

Yet Ferguson has defended the England striker's comments: "Hate's an easy word to say, easier than dislike. Maybe it is not the right word," he said.

"He's had lots of stick from their fans over the years so it's understandable.

"He supported Everton as a kid and the rivalry between them and Liverpool is pretty ferocious now. Since then he has come to Manchester United and he wants to win.

"It is nothing out of the ordinary really."

Rooney also said in his comments that a win for United at Old Trafford tomorrow will end Liverpool's hopes of claiming the Premier League title this season.

United are currently seven points ahead of Liverpool with a game in hand.