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Dirty Tackle

Alex Ferguson admits Rooney transfer request, says he’s retiring to spend time with his wife

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

After an ideal farewell in his last match at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson spoke to the seeker of harsh truths himself, Geoff Shreeves. After warming Ferguson up with a couple of softballs, Shreeves asked him why Wayne Rooney watched the match from an executive suite. Ferguson responded by confirming reports that Rooney has asked for a transfer (again) and Shreeves seemed a bit stunned by the straight forward reply. Said Ferguson:

"Well, I don't think Wayne was keen to play simply because he's asked for a transfer. I think he wants to think it through in his mind. I think that's a good idea. We're not going to let him go. And I think maybe he's a little bit frustrated that he's been taken off once or twice in the last few weeks."

On the topic of Ferguson's retirement, Shreeves brought up how unexpected the announcement was. After all, Ferguson has maintained for years now that he would continue as long as his health would allow and even wrote in his matchday program notes a mere three days before announcing he would step down that "I certainly don't have any plans at the moment to walk away." Again, Ferguson responded to Shreeves with honesty and said he actually decided to stop last Christmas for his grieving wife, who convinced him not to retire in 2002.

"Well, basically things changed when Catherine's sister died. She's isolated a lot now and I think I owe her a lot of my own time. For 47 years she's been the leader of the family, looked after our three sons and sacrificed for me and now she's got all the grandchildren, the old daughter, and I think she's lost her best friend, her sister Bridget, so I think our time — that was important. Also, to go out a winner. That is really important in this club."

Ferguson added that it was very difficult to keep the secret these last few months and that he only told his kids in March and his brother the night before he made his decision public because he wanted to tell his players and staff first.

At the end of the interview, Shreeves concluded by saying, "In a break with tradition, if you'll let me have the last word this time and say: Alex, well done." Ferguson, of course, instinctively would not let him have that last word and replied by saying, "Well done, thank you" and laughing.

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