Rooney-rift rumours are `rubbish`, says Sir Alex
Zeenews Sports Bureau
Manchester: Sir Alex spoke to the press for the first time after his side`s controversial exit from the UEFA Champions` League to Real Madrid in midweek, slamming the papers that reported a rift between the gaffer and star striker Wayne Rooney who was benched for the crucial tie, and affirming that the star striker would indeed be staying at United past this summer.
He began his press conference ahead of Sunday`s FA Cup quarter-final with Chelsea by getting straight to the Rooney issue: "The Wayne Rooney issue first? Or do you want to talk sense? The issue you`re all going on about in the papers is absolute rubbish. I`ve banned two papers from the press conference and they won`t get back in here until they apologise.
"There is absolutely no issue between Wayne Rooney and I. To suggest we don`t talk to each other on the training ground is absolute nonsense."
"Wayne will be here next year. You have my word on that. I have no issues at all with the player and he`ll be involved on Sunday."
He added that the reasons for dropping the striker were purely tactical and the team`s performance, up until the controversial red card, proved him right.
"(Rooney) understood the reasons completely. Tactically we got it right. We don`t always but we did then. Welbeck is the best player we have in terms of operating a double role. We had to chalk out Xabi Alonso`s ability to control the game, which he did, and also his ability to go further forward as an attacking player."
Sir Alex, whose team sits pretty atop the Premier League charts, pointed to his decision to leave out last weekend`s hat-trick hero Kagawa as proof that all his team selection decisions were based on a solid game-plan rather than form or such issues.
"I left out Shinji Kagawa after he scored a hat-trick. I thought I would get more stick for that."
Having snubbed the post-match conference after a `devastating` Champions` League exit, Ferguson finally revealed his reactions after the game.
"It is hard to keep your faith when you have things like that," Ferguson said, "But in the cold light of day, we have to get on with it. Nothing can be done. This is another day in the history of our club - not a good day, but a day.
But dwelling on the past has never been Ferguson`s style as he looked ahead to Sunday`s big FA Cup tie against Chelsea. With hopes of a treble dashed by a moment of much-criticised refereeing, the focus for United now shifts to the pursuit of a league-and-cup double.
"We must galvanise the troops and our support: we owe them a good performance on Sunday. It`s a quarter-final tie, it`s at home and I always say if it is at home we`re happy."
Manchester United, meanwhile, are 12 points clear of Man City at the top of the English Premier League and are the runaway favourites to clinch their uprecedented 20th league title.