Wayne Rooney last night admitted he was wrong to question Manchester United's ambition after indicating he did not want to sign a new contract and revealed that he instructed his agent to organise the two-hour meeting to thrash out a deal hours after the Glazer family, Sir Alex Ferguson and chief executive David Gill had telephoned to make him see sense.
In one of the most revealing and wide-ranging interviews Rooney has ever undertaken, he told the club's MUTV channel that he went "too far" in publicly questioning United's future on October 20, adding that he had no right to suggest the club were unable to attract the highest calibre players: "Looking back, it was nothing to do with me. I just wanted to make sure signing was the right thing to do and I got the answers in the end. But it was probably wrong of me to do that."
Rooney's decisive call to his agent, Paul Stretford, came on the same evening, October 21, that a gang of 30 hooded fans arrived at his Prestbury house. Rooney described seeing them from the window: "I looked out and there was about 30 there, all with hoods up. With my wife and kid in the house it was just a bit intimidating, but it got calmed down. I think they wanted me to invite them in. I can understand that they wanted answers."
He reveals in the interview that he would like to go into management – "I wouldn't like to start at an Everton or a Man United; I'd rather start by going down and learning something about the lower leagues" – and though he spells out the significance of being close to Liverpool for his wife Coleen, he claims only one club would have been less likely to get his signature than Manchester City.
"My wife would support me no matter where I went," said Rooney, still seeking his first open-play goal of the season as United visit West Bromwich Albion today. "We go to Liverpool four times a week so she's delighted I've stayed because we're close to our families.
"I didn't even think about where I'd go. People said I was odds-on to go to Man City. There was no way I'd have gone there. There was more chance of me going to City than [Liverpool] though. They were the two I wouldn't have gone to."
Rooney reflects on other aspects of a dire year, but is less apologetic about his verbal outburst to fans after England's World Cup game against Algeria in Cape Town last June. "You can understand it in the last ten minutes, [but] the first ten minutes? That's disappointing because, if the fans are behind you 100 per cent and giving you the atmosphere to kick things on, that can really help you."
He also reflects on how he misses Cristiano Ronaldo: "As a person, he was a lovely fella and got on with everyone in the club," he said. "And football-wise, it speaks for itself." Yet Rooney remains convinced that the Portuguese attempted to get him sent off in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final between their nations.
"I remember Gary Neville tackling him in the game and he didn't seem to touch him, but Cristiano went down and I went up to the ref and said, 'He's diving, give him a yellow card.' Nobody really saw that, but everybody saw mine because it was a red card."
Rooney provides another hint of his religiosity, which he first revealed at the World Cup, when explaining why he wore a cross in training. Describing his pre-match routines, he said: "I always go into the physio's room after the warm-up and pray."
Music forms an important part of that routine and Rooney describes how he wears his iPod because Patrice Evra's favoured dressing-room music (R&B and reggae) differs from his own (Susan Boyle, with a love of Perry Como and Frankie Valli passed on by his grandfather). "Susan Boyle, yes – I like to relax before a game," Rooney said. "Her voice is amazing. I get a massage while listening to it."
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