Rooney reveals regret at quit threat in 2010
Wayne Rooney has reflected on his initial decision to seek a move away from Manchester United in 2010, during his fascinating interview with UTD Podcast.
Of course, the former England captain ended up staying with the Reds and becoming our all-time record goalscorer, but he concedes his frustration, prompted by his discontent over the sale of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, adversely affected his relationship with manager Sir Alex Ferguson and the supporters.
It is something he fully understands, especially in retrospect, and he is grateful that he was able to agree fresh terms with chief executive David Gill, only a matter of days after Sir Alex had dropped the bombshell by revealing his striker's desire to leave in a press conference ahead of the Champions League tie with Bursaspor in the October.
"The relationship with Sir Alex took a little bit of a hit because of me trying to think of the bigger picture," Rooney admitted. "Obviously, as he told me, it was none of my business.
“I think it’s good [the relationship with the fans]. It [also] took a hit in 2010 when I asked to leave the club, which I get. I understand the frustration from the fans over that. But I think, again, there were other things going on and I had frustrations myself with the way the club was going.
“We’d sold [Carlos] Tevez and sold [Cristiano] Ronaldo and, when United asked me about and offered me a five-year deal, it was going to be my last contract really in terms of a big contract where I was coming into the peak of my career.
“I really wanted assurances as we were selling these players so who were we going to bring in? Are we going to build for the next three years, then basically we need to go for players who are proven players.
"That’s where I was but I think, rightly so, the manager told me it was none of my business," Rooney recalled. "I said fine, I respect your decision on that. You’re the manager but, if you can’t give me those assurances, it’s best I leave the club.
“It was all quick and something I regret now. Obviously, I went to speak to David Gill after that and he was obviously a bit calmer than Sir Alex was at the time! I think it was two or three days down the line when I actually signed the deal and it was all something that happened very quickly. Decisions were getting made on emotions rather than sitting down and thinking them through.
“When there were those protests at my house, I’d already agreed to sign the new contract by that time! But it was three o’clock in the morning and I didn’t fancy going out to calm down 20 or 30 lads with their hoods up!"
Some friction remained although Sir Alex has since admitted he used to openly criticise the stronger characters in the dressing room as a way of sending a message to the others. Wayne and Ryan Giggs fell into this category as both had broad enough shoulders to deal with rebukes the legendary manager was really aiming at the team as a whole.
"I think, in terms of the manager, I always had a great relationship with the manager but I think, after that, there were times in most games at half-time where me and the manager were at each other," said Rooney.
“I think the manager loved that. He knew, by doing that to me, he was getting a message to the other players. He did it with Giggsy as well. So Giggsy, me and the manager were always at each other and it went on a little bit after that, when that was happening. Always after the game, the manager might walk down to the bus and give me a slap on the back of the head! It was his way of saying, that’s over.
“Still to this day. I have great respect for the manager, it was just those little moments in the dressing room that were missing a little bit. It was just something which is still there – it almost took a bit of that [character] out of me and out of him as well, in that sense. It is what it is. I think the most important thing was we got it sorted out quite quickly and moved on and went on to win the league again the next year."
Even though Rooney scored his sensational overhead kick against Manchester City, arguably our greatest-ever Premier League goal, later that season, he feels he still had to win over the supporters and could sense that on a matchday at Old Trafford.
"I don’t think it was immediately forgotten," he said. "I could feel the tension in the first few games and some fans, to this day, probably won’t get over it fully. I understand that. As a fan, that’s your club and I can understand that situation.
“From my point of view, I was getting my head down and working hard, trying to perform and score goals. I know at the time what I wanted but it probably wasn’t my place as a young lad to be going into Sir Alex’s office saying that, which I understand."
Download the Wayne Rooney UTD Podcast episode from the usual platforms to listen to the interview in full.