Wayne Rooney has revealed that he had more “confidence” to do defensive work at Manchester United than Cristiano Ronaldo during their time together at Old Trafford.
Rooney and Ronaldo spent five years playing together with the Red Devils, from 2004 to 2009, winning countless trophies, including three Premier League titles and the Champions League.
They appeared to fall out in 2022 when Ronaldo criticized his former teammate during an interview with Piers Morgan after Rooney called the Portuguese star’s behavior during his second spell at United “unacceptable.”
But those who remember their playing days together will have fond memories of how they combined to form what was a formidable attack under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Now Rooney, speaking as a guest at the Stay with the football podcastbrought to you by sky betopened up about his time with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, explaining how their partnership at the club would often work.
Wayne Rooney (left) has revealed that he had more “confidence” to do defensive work at Manchester United than Cristiano Ronaldo (right)
The pair played together for five seasons at Manchester United, winning three Premier League titles and one Champions League.
Speaking on the Stick to Football podcast, Rooney opened up about the striker two years after their public falling out.
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“(He) would win you the game,” Rooney began. ‘From a defensive point of view there was just more confidence (in me).
“Obviously, if I played wide, I would do my job, I would come back and help defensively where Cristiano probably wouldn’t, and then he is a threat (in attack), he immobilizes his defenders, at the back.
“I wanted to play my position (center forward) but that’s where the manager probably got it right in terms of the team winning and being successful, we probably needed that.” I wasn’t very interested in individual awards, I always wanted to win with the team, that was always my goal.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a natural goal scorer, I just wanted to have the ball. If he had been more selfish, he could have scored many more goals, but he just wanted to play. The number of times midfielders told me to go away or “I’ll play it to you, you have to stay up front.”
Rooney played under four managers at United, and spent most of his time under Ferguson. He also played for David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho before leaving in 2017, joining Everton and then Derby County before taking over as manager.
There were high hopes for Van Gaal when he moved to United, but the Dutchman lasted just under two years before leaving to make way for Mourinho.
Rooney praised the 72-year-old and highlighted one Premier League striker in particular he would have loved to coach.
Ronaldo criticized Rooney in an interview with Piers Morgan after his former teammate questioned his behaviour.
Rooney praised the 39-year-old and said he could “win you the game”, although he admitted he was not as impressive defensively.
“I remember Louis van Gaal when he came in, I thought tactically he was the best I’ve ever worked with,” Rooney said. “It was the things off the pitch that were difficult for the players in the way they worked, but I remember him coming on and saying he wanted his centre-forward to have 15 or 20 touches a game.”
‘That’s exactly what (Erling) Haaland does. He always wanted to play and enjoy the game…and score goals.”
Rooney spoke on the Stick to Football podcast, presented by sky bet.