David Moyes admits to ‘regretting’ Wayne Rooney therapy he took from Sir Alex

David Moyes regrets trying to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson’s tough-love approach with Wayne Rooney.

The Manchester United icon, who exploded onto the football scene as a teen sensation at Everton and quickly became an England star, was under Moyes’ wing when he was a prodigious talent at Goodison Park. Moyes, eager to keep Rooney focused, attempted to shield him from distractions, but in hindsight, he admits he might have been too harsh.

Speaking on The Rest is Football podcast, Moyes revealed his attempts to mirror Fergie’s strict handling of a youthful Ryan Giggs didn’t quite pan out with Rooney. Moyes reflected: “You’ve got to remember, I was a really young manager as far as that goes. I had nobody to look at in how to handle it. One you could say was how did Fergie control Giggsy?”

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Noting the iron-fisted style of Scottish managers of the era, Moyes added: “Obviously, Alex did it with an iron rod, which the Scottish managers did around that time. I was like that but I don’t think it suited Wayne that I was like that because I’m saying, ‘make sure you’re not doing that’, ‘make sure you’re not out there’.

“There’s bits of it, when you look back, that you regret. He changed his agent. I’m like, ‘what’s he doing here? How’s this going to work? ‘Before we knew it we were getting Coca-Cola adverts or something else coming in, and I didn’t like it.”

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Wayne Rooney at Euro 2004, where he was one of the players of the tournament
Wayne Rooney at Euro 2004, where he was one of the players of the tournament

Moyes was desperate to keep hold of Rooney, resorting to extraordinary measures to fend off suitors – a battle he lost when United forked out £25.6million for the striker. He revealed: “Wayne might not know this but I used to go wherever he was playing. Made his debut for England, I was there. I was out there in Portugal when he broke his metatarsal [at Euro 2004].

“The papers were saying Wayne’s meeting on a yacht out in… I’m f****** raging as I didn’t want to let anyone near him, because I really wanted to keep him.”

Reunited at United during Moyes’ brief tenure as manager, he still considers Rooney the best player he’s ever managed. “Yeah, when I went to Manchester United, there were some fantastic players there, some really good footballers,” he added.