Wayne Rooney has admitted that he was "tense" after being fined by Sir Alex Ferguson over his performance in training following his night out on Boxing Day and that it affected his performance on the pitch. The Manchester United striker added that he has fallen out with Ferguson in the past, but that the Old Trafford manager was "the greatest present life has given me".
Speaking to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the 26-year-old also responded to Roberto Mancini's claim that he got Vincent Kompany sent off during Sunday's explosive Manchester derby. "It's a... point of view," said Rooney, whose words might seem unusually expressive, having been translated into Italian and back again.
"He [Mancini] claimed that I encouraged the referee to send off Kompany with a gesture. If it were like that, every player who makes that gesture after suffering a foul would direct the game in place of the referee and obviously it can't be like that. And the fact that it was a legitimate sending-off is confirmed by the four-match suspension and the rejection of the appeal."
On the subject of Ferguson, Rooney was candid. "You can't always agree," he said. "Football is made up of all kinds of conflict. In a dressing room, between players, between us and the manager, between us and loads of people who don't seem to matter. It's constant and harsh sometimes."
Rooney was asked if he had complained about the fine, which amounted to one week's wages of £160,000. "Yes, but for reasons that I can't say. I accepted it. But I was tense when I got back on the pitch and I think it showed." Not that he appears to hold it against Ferguson.
Asked who had given him the most in football, he answered: "My manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, the greatest present that life has given me." Rooney also spoke about Cristiano Ronaldo, who left Old Trafford for Real Madrid in 2009. "It was thrilling and also a learning experience to play alongside him," he said. "[I was] perhaps a little [disappointed when he left]. But I was also quite happy for him too because he had the desire to try something else: 87 goals in 80 games says it all, no?"
One of the reasons Rooney was not too worried was his club's resilience. "For this reason, the club is perfect: and don't say I'm biased," he said.
Having declared his continued love for Everton ("If I were to say I did not support them, I'd be ashamed"), the Merseysider demonstrated how much he was relishing United's FA Cup fourth-round encounter with Liverpool, saying: "I'm ready for it."
Ravel Morrison, the 18-year-old considered the great hope of United's youth ranks, made an enigmatic statement last night about the prospect of remaining beyond the summer, stating on Twitter: "No contract offer to talk about."
Morrison came on as a substitute in Carling Cup games but, despite United's lack of fit midfielders, he has not established himself as a first-team prospect. Morrison's contract expires this summer, though a change of agent may have hampered attempts to secure his future. Ferguson and the club's chief executive, David Gill, have sought to support him at a time when he has been in recurrent trouble with the police.
Talking Italian: Rooney translated
Wayne Rooney's interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica saw him on unusually expansive form – perhaps because it had been translated into Italian and back again:
At 26, do you still consider yourself to be in a state of evolution? "There are many ways to grow football-wise. You go slow or are pushed to go faster, otherwise you get left behind. For me, there would be trouble in stopping learning."
Who is or was your perfect partner? "Perfect partners don't exist. Perfect conditions exist for a limited time in which partnerships express themselves best."
You could have won the Puskas award with your bicycle kick against City: then Neymar won it with the goal against Flamengo... "The important thing is to be there, score when needed. It's better if the goals are beautiful, better still if they are important."
How do you score a goal like the bicycle kick? "You stop thinking with your head and start thinking with your gut. Just like when you bring a child into the world."