Wayne Rooney has named four Manchester United legends who he believes would have got into the current Manchester City side.
Both clubs have relatively little in common, but they are the only clubs to have achieved one of the greatest feats in English football – winning the traditional treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.
With Erling Haaland in attack, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva in midfield, and Ruben Dias and John Stones at centre-back, the City side is brimming with world-class talent when their entire squad is fit.
And writing in his column for The Times prior to last season’s Champions League final, United legend Rooney cast doubt over whether his dominating side of the late 2000s and early 2010s would have been able to beat Guardiola’s men over a 38-game season.
He wrote: “Could the 2008 United team have competed with City? Head to head, we’d have had a good chance. But over a 38-game season, they would have had the edge.
“I think we’d have been similar to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, able to beat them in one-off games but usually just a bit behind them in the final league table.
“There were players in our team who would have got into this City side. Paul Scholes would have been perfect, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic too.
“I believe I would have fitted into it as well – and I would have loved to play with Kevin De Bruyne and Haaland.”
City are currently on course to win their fourth consecutive Premier League title, as they are one point ahead of Liverpool at the top of the table after 12 games played.
Both sides face each other at the Etihad Stadium next Saturday – although both De Bruyne and Haaland are among nine injury doubts for Guardiola’s side.
Wayne Rooney snubbed himself when naming Manchester United’s greatest legends.
Before heading into management, Rooney had a glittering career at the top of the world game.
While he represented boyhood club Everton on two occasions and was for a brief period England’s record goalscorer, Rooney was at his best across a 13-year spell at Old Trafford.
Indeed, at United, the 38-year-old made 559 appearances and netted a club-record 253 goals.
However, while speaking on CBS’s ‘Morning Footy’ show, Rooney snubbed himself when offering up a selection of United greats.
Despite acknowledging that “so many people” could be on a Mount Rushmore of United legends, he ultimately said: “Yeah I think for me, Sir Alex of course will be on there. I think Cristiano Ronaldo will be on there. And Ryan Giggs would be on there and probably George Best.”
Speaking about working with legendary boss Ferguson, Rooney continued: “I really wanted to play for Alex Ferguson.
“Just the way he worked and how successful he was and of course, he had great players throughout the years and it’s a really historical club…
“Me being from Liverpool – an Evertonian – I always had an eye on Manchester United purely because of Sir Alex Ferguson. I just loved the way he was and hoped that one day I could play under him, and thankfully I finally managed to do that.”
After calling time on his playing career, Rooney decided to head into management. Having previously managed Championship side Derby County and MLS club DC United, Rooney is now in charge of Birmingham City.
However, his short time there has been tumultuous. Birmingham were fifth on the night of former manager John Eustace’s final game, a 3-1 home win against local rivals West Bromwich Albion, and sixth on the day Rooney was named his successor.
A month on and they are 18th in the Championship, seven points adrift of the play-offs, having most recently suffered a 3-1 away defeat against Sunderland.
Wayne Rooney once named the best player he ever played with throughout his international career with England.
Rooney became the Three Lions’ record goalscorer in 2015 after scoring a penalty against Switzerland, and eventually scored a total of 53 goals for his country before his official retirement in 2018.
The forward, who was England captain between 2014 and 2017, also collected 120 caps for England – meaning he played with an entire generation of the nation’s best footballers.
In fact, out of the squad that Rooney played in when he made his England debut in 2003, he was the only active professional footballer at the time of his international retirement in 2018.
But who was the best player he played alongside for England?
In an interview with former England team-mate Gary Neville for Sky Sports in 2018, Rooney gave his definitive answer -and no, it wasn’t Neville.
He said: “It’s got to be Steven Gerrard.
“At times, he got us through games. At the period where, obviously, we lost a players – yourself, Rio, Becks. It was me, Stevie and Frank left.
“Stevie pulled us through our games then.”
Gerrard and Rooney played alongside each other for most of their respective England careers, with the Liverpool legend making his Three Lions debut in 2000.
Both players would also make their competitive tournament debuts at Euro 2004 – where Rooney burst onto the international scene.
And speaking to Neville on an episode of The Overlap while he was manager of Aston Villa, Gerrard revealed that the United icon was the England player he got along with the best. The respect, therefore, is mutual.
He explained: “I think Wazza is one of those people, especially when you’re away with your family, you need people like Wayne Rooney who are going to lift the room, or lift the day, or do something.
“I used to love being around Wayne, and obviously because we’ve come from similar areas and stuff I used to really love spending time with Wayne.”