Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United legend Harry Gregg backs Sir Alex in Wayne Rooney row

By Steven Beacom

Manchester United legend Harry Gregg has backed Sir Alex Ferguson to guide the Red Devils through this stormy period, telling Wayne Rooney, ‘no one is bigger than the club’.

United have been rocked by Rooney’s desire to leave with manager Ferguson feeling betrayed that his one-time golden boy is determined to leave Old Trafford.

On Tuesday, Ferguson told the world that he was dumbfounded by Rooney’s decision, adding, however, that a new contract offer was still on the table.

United may as well throw it in the bin now with Rooney making his own statement last night, confirming that he is intent on departing the Theatre of Dreams.

Northern Ireland goalkeeping great Harry Gregg has been watching developments with interest.

Never afraid to voice his opinion, he insists that life will go on at United with or without the England star.

And he is sure that Ferguson will handle the situation in the coming months, when speculation will be rife about Rooney's future.

“I’m certain that Sir Alex Ferguson will handle it well,” said Gregg.

“Let’s not forget, he saved an institution with what he did when he came in to United.

“He is the same inspirational figure that Sir Matt Busby was. As for those who came in between, least said, best mended.

“I’m confident in the manager — he’ll handle this in the way that’s best for Manchester United.”

Gregg, a survivor of the infamous Munich air disaster in 1958, has seen many a great player come and go at Old Trafford down the years.

According to Harry, Rooney will be just another to add to the list.

“There is one thing you can be certain about in all this and that is life will go on at Manchester United with or without Wayne Rooney,” said Gregg, who is approaching his 78th birthday.

“Myself and another eight players survived an accident many years ago and I remember people saying after that I would never leave United and that I would be there for life, but when my time came to go I did.

“I recall the best player I ever played with, Dennis Viollet, who was scoring lots of goals for United, and everyone being shocked when he left.

“Matt loved him, a bit like Sir Alex and Rooney, but Dennis stepped out of line and ended up at Stoke, where he had a great career. The fact here is that nobody is bigger than Manchester United. No one is bigger than the club. That applies to Wayne Rooney, just like everyone else.”

When asked for this thoughts on Rooney, in a reference to the striker’s dreadful form of late, Gregg shot back: “You are only as good as your last game.”

He continued: “When Wayne Rooney is at his best he is a throwback to one of the finest strikers ever, Everton legend Dixie Dean, who was up there with the greats, but I repeat, in football you are only as good as your last game.

“I really don’t know where he will end up. I’m wary of all the media hype and much of it right now in relation to who will sign him is down to suggestion rather than fact.”

One suggestion is that he will join those “noisy neighbours” Manchester City.

Another Northern Ireland great, Sammy McIlroy, knows all about playing for both sides of the Manchester divide.

McIlroy was a hero at Old Trafford playing almost 350 games between 1971 and 1982, and although he didn’t make the move directly, he played for City later in his career.

“Wayne thinks he's in a bit of a goldfish bowl at the moment, if he goes across the town it'll be even bigger,” said McIlroy.

“Carlos Tevez did it and has done very well, but for Wayne to go with the fans at United loving him, he could be in for a rough ride.”

The Morecambe boss added: “From what I hear United have offered him the best contract they've offered any player — but City can top that.

“United want him to stay and show a bit of loyalty. Lots of fans will probably be hoping he does change his mind and I think Sir Alex wants him to — but these days money talks.”

Belfast Telegraph


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