Wayne Rooney could be as good as Cristiano Ronaldo if it wasn't for his gym attitude

Former Manchester United fitness coach believes the England striker 'didn't see the importance of the gym'

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The Independent Football

Former Manchester United fitnaess coach Mick Clegg has criticised striker Wayne Rooney claiming that he was never as good as Cristiano Ronaldo because he hated going to the gym.

There have always been questions over the fitness of the England forward, who was dropped by Sir Alex Ferguson at the beginning of last season after a below-standard performance in the opening day 1-0 defeat at Everton.

Ahead of a meeting with new boss David Moyes that could potentially decide where his future lies, Clegg has expressed a few views as to why he has suffered a fall from grace.

Clegg told The Sun: “Wayne didn’t see the importance of the gym really. He’d say, ‘I’m here to play football’. I always wish I could have pushed Wayne that bit further.”

Rooney and Ronaldo shared a partnership which blossomed at Old Trafford between 2004 and 2009, when the Portugal star left for Real Madrid – a move that has been rumoured to be in Rooney’s short-term future.

The 27-year-old has been inconsistent ever since, with Clegg believing that he did not want to train as much as the other players, and that he could be as good as Ronaldo if he wanted to.

“Wayne was always a big lad and was afraid of bulking up if he spent too much time in the gym.

“That’s what set Cristiano Ronaldo apart. He would do whatever training I prescribed and more.

“He lived and breathed football 24/7 and his dedication was phenomenal.

“Wayne could still be as good as Cristiano if he emulated his attitude to the gym — he is an amazing athlete when he puts his mind to it.'

Rooney was pictured enjoying himself at Glastonbury with a pint of cider alongside wife Coleen, but faces a tough time during pre-season to impress new boss Moyes and the Old Trafford faithful following a season with another transfer request.

United’s players are due to return to training today, and Moyes will be keeping a close eye on Rooney ahead of their talks, with assessments last year claiming the star was as much as half a stone overweight.

Some involved at United believe Rooney has lost the edge and instinctiveness that made him such an explosive partner for Ronaldo in the Premier League.

Rooney continued to improve even after Ronaldo left for Madrid,  and there was a period in the 2009-10 season - including a magnificent individual performance when they beat AC Milan in the San Siro - when the forward lived up to his world class billing.

But for a player that is earning £250,000 a week, Moyes will be wanting a lot more of those moments.