Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that concerns about Wayne Rooney’s ability to recover from injuries were rife throughout the pair’s nine years together at Manchester United.
Ferguson, whose autobiography was officially launched on Tuesday, devoted an entire chapter of his memoir to Rooney, praising the England striker’s natural talent but criticising his fitness levels and ability to take on instructions.
"In my opinion he was not the quickest learner but what he had was a natural instinct to play the game," Ferguson wrote in 'My Autobiography'. "In a training ground exercise he wouldn’t absorb new ideas or methods quickly. His instinct was to revert to type, to trust what he already knew."
On Rooney’s underlying fitness issues, Ferguson wrote: "Wayne needed to be careful. He has great qualities about him but they could be swallowed up by a lack of fitness.
"It was not wise for England to give him a week’s holiday before Euro 2012 because he might lose his edge. If he missed a couple of weeks for United it could take him four or five games to get his sharpness back.
"He would receive no leniency from me. I would hammer him for any drop in condition. It was quite simple -- he wouldn’t play. That’s the way I always dealt with fitness issues, regardless of the player involved."
Rooney was left out of Ferguson’s starting line-up a number of times in his final year as United boss -- the crunch Champions League last-16 encounter with Real Madrid the most notable -- with the Scot insisting in his autobiography that he "had lost some of his old thrust" and "struggled more and more to do it for 90 minutes".
Rooney’s frustration at his lack of game time culminated in Ferguson claiming at the end of last season that his striker had put in a transfer request, something vehemently denied by Rooney himself.
The former United boss reiterated in 'My Autobiography' that Rooney "asked away" after the final game of last season and did so again at a press conference to launch his new book -- though he also stated he was happy to see United’s No. 10 return to form this season under David Moyes.
"Wayne asked to leave, and I’ve written that in the book," Ferguson said. "He felt he was playing out of position. I understand that as a player myself. So for Wayne to come say he was disappointed he wasn’t playing is normal. But at the time Wayne wasn’t playing well enough -- that was my judgement.
"Do you think I would drop Wayne Rooney the way he’s playing today. Absolutely no way. That’s what we all want to see. The expectation on him is huge -- he’s the white hope. When we see him in that form he’s a fantastic player."