Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Wayne Rooney has fanned the flames ahead of Saturday's crunch Premier League showdown with Liverpool at Old Trafford by revealing he "hates" Liverpool.
The striker, who came through the youth ranks of city rivals Everton, made the comments to Manchester United's television station, MUTV, and they were then posted on the club's official website.
But United have now removed the comments from the site, fearing they could prove to be inflammatory ahead of a match which has one of the fiercest rivalries in the world game.
Rooney said: "We're in pole position in the title race and we know if we can beat Liverpool then that'll more or less end their chances of winning the league. I'm very excited about the game because I grew up as an Everton fan hating Liverpool - and that hasn't changed."
United removed the quotes after two hours before editing them and putting live again, to read: "I'm also very excited about the game because I grew up as an Everton fan."
United have defended their decision "In advance of the game we felt this was the best option,'' said a club spokesman. "The comments are open to wilful mis-reporting and neither the club, nor Wayne wanted that to happen.''
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson added: "Hate is an easy word to say, easier than dislike. Maybe it is not the right word. But Wayne has had plenty of stick from Liverpool fans over the years, so it is understandable.
"He supported Everton as a kid and the rivalry between them and Liverpool is pretty ferocious now. Since then he has come to Manchester United and he wants to win.
"It is nothing out of the ordinary really.''
Rooney went on to add: "Liverpool played really well against Madrid, they attacked with a lot of speed, were aggressive and put Real under a lot of pressure. They are always anxious games against Liverpool and I am sure it will be frantic with a lot of challenges.
"It's a massive fixture, especially with what's at stake. Liverpool have been brilliant all season and put up a good challenge, but it will be great if we can finish that challenge off.
"It will be a great achievement if we can win the league a third year on the run, especially after Abramovich came into Chelsea and they won it two seasons running.
"At that point it was hard to see anyone else winning it, but we have bounced back as a club and shown again that we are a quality team. Five trophies is still possible and it's a great feeling. We know it's going to be tough but that's why we have the squad we do and we'll need it."