Wayne Rooney’s years at top take their toll on Manchester United captain | Daniel Taylor

He does not turn 31 till next month but Wayne Rooney made his Premier League debut at 16 and players who start out young often pay a price

They changed the format of the press conferences at Manchester United some time ago. For the past 10 years or so, everything has been in front of the cameras and the managers, as such, always tend to put on their face for television, remember to mind their language and often disguise, or water down, what they really feel. It is a PR world more than ever before, but it used to be much better fun in the old days when Sir Alex Ferguson held separate briefings, the cameras turned off, where he could go off-record, show a bit more of his real personality and occasionally fly into the kind of rages that had to be seen to be believed.

He certainly didn’t pussyfoot around the subject when it came to Wayne Rooney and the questions that occasionally came up about the striker’s febrile temper (nobody questioned Rooney’s performances back then, just the occasional controversies). The time, for example, when Rooney was being investigated by the Football Association for pushing his hand into the face of Tal Ben Haim, then at Bolton Wanderers. Ferguson was so enraged about it being brought up that day he machine-gunned 22 F-words in our direction in roughly 45 seconds. That press conference ended with him swinging his arm at the tape recorders on his table to send them flying into a wall 10 feet away. “You’ve got me to lose my temper, wonderful,” was his parting shot, pointing to the door to chuck us out, the flares burning behind his eyes.

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