By Mike Collett
LONDON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Manchester United team mates have clubbed together to buy Wayne Rooney a special present for his 28th birthday on Thursday - former manager Alex Ferguson's autobiography which criticises the forward for being a slow learner with fitness problems.
Not that the England and United multi-millionaire is too bothered what Ferguson thinks following the Scot's retirement at the end of last season.
His form since David Moyes took over has soared, the goals have started flowing again, and he played another influential role as Manchester United beat Real Sociedad 1-0 at Old Trafford to go top of Champions League Group A on Wednesday.
A little more than 11 years after marking his arrival with a stunning Premier League goal for Everton against Arsenal while he was still only 16, Rooney now looks like a man whose time has come.
According to reports in Thursday's newspapers, United players thought the book would be the ideal birthday present for a man in his peak years after a slump in form last season, which he has explained by saying Ferguson played him out of position.
After beating Sociedad on Wednesday, Rooney said he was pleased that Ferguson had set the record straight over claims that he had handed in a transfer request last season.
"Thankfully he's come back and corrected the story that I put a transfer request in and he's gone back and proven that I haven't," Rooney told Sky Sports.
His comments came the day after Ferguson's autobiography was launched in which the Scot said the forward "asked away" rather than referring to any formal transfer request.
"I haven't seen him since he retired, I'm happy under the new management. I'm working to get results under David Moyes and his coaching staff so that's the main thing for me. The other stuff doesn't concern me," Rooney added.
Although he did not score on Wednesday, he played a major part in the only goal of the night which came when Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez diverted the ball into his own net after it had rebounded off the post from a Rooney shot.
The England striker looked rejuvenated in a United side that dominated the match and should have won by a far bigger margin.
Despite making a sluggish start to their Premier League title defence, United have looked solid in Europe, picking up seven points from their opening three Group A fixtures and they put in an encouraging display on Wednesday.
Rooney linked well with Javier Hernandez in attack, the midfield looked solid with Shinji Kagawa showing glimpses of his better form and Antonio Valencia shone on the right flank.
Although Sociedad created chances, the defence remained solid with Phil Jones and Jonny Evans working well in the central positions and Patrice Evra and Rafael causing problems out wide.
Moyes was pleased with what he saw from Rooney against the La Liga side, telling reporters afterwards: "He was absolutely terrific tonight.
"I was just shouting at him in the last five minutes when he gave it away a couple of times in the corner but overall he's worked really well." (Editing by John O'Brien)
- Sports & Recreation
- Wayne Rooney
- Alex Ferguson
- David Moyes
- Manchester United
- Real Sociedad