Wayne Rooney has said that he could see Manchester United were on the decline in the final two seasons of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign.
The Red Devils won a host of silverware under the Scot, including 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League crowns. Ferguson also had a strong end to his reign, bowing out with top-flight triumph.
Since his 2013 exit, though, United have yet to reclaim top spot in the Premier League. They have enjoyed FA Cup, Europa League and League Cup success, but have struggled to maintain consistency.
Indeed, they have expended four managers including Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and David Moyes since 2013.
During Ferguson’s reign, several star players made themselves heroes at Old Trafford. Rooney was one of them, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo in his first spell there alongside Carlos Tevez.
But according to Rooney, the departures of the latter pair were a sign of the start of Man Utd’s decline.
“You could see after 2011; Ronaldo left in 2009, Tevez left and after that you could see it was going to go backwards before it can move forwards,” now-Derby County boss Rooney told the Daily Mirror.
“That’s what I could see and that’s why I was asking the questions. Unfortunately, they probably still haven’t recovered from that to this day.
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“It wasn’t a great team in 2013. For us to win that League title was a miracle, really, I think.”
Rooney in fact credits the signing of Robin van Persie from Arsenal in 2012 as the catalyst the following season.
Van Persie signing lauded
The Dutchman went on to score 26 Premier League goals to fire Man Utd to the title in his debut season.
“A massive part of it was Van Persie,” Rooney said.
“I think him coming in gave everyone a lift, coming in at number nine, scoring the goals he scored.
“That was a bit of a masterstroke from the manager, to bring him in and have him hungry because he was a bit older as well. He really carried us that season.”
Rooney talks famous 2006 clash
Rooney was speaking in his new documentary – ‘Rooney’ – which will be on Amazon Prime from Friday.
Elsewhere, he revealed he wore longer studs for a crucial Premier League clash against Chelsea in 2006 because he wanted to “hurt someone”.
“I changed my studs before the game,” he said. I put longer studs in because I wanted to hurt someone.
“If Chelsea won a point, they won the league. At that time, I couldn’t take it.
“The studs were legal, they were a legal size. But they were bigger than what I would normally wear.”
The current Man Utd side, led by interim manager Ralf Rangnick, return to action against Burnley on Tuesday.