Fergie defends Rooney as Manchester City slam striker over Kompany red card
Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Wayne Rooney in the row over his role in Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany's controversial red card.
City boss Roberto Mancini claimed United striker Rooney pressured referee Chris Foy into dismissing Kompany for a two-footed tackle on Nani but Ferguson says such appeals are now part of the game and that it was a reckless challenge.
Ferguson, speaking at the FIFA Ballon d'Or gala in Zurich, said: 'I have no concerns about the behaviour in that respect because to my mind it was a reckless challenge and Nani is a very lucky boy because he didn't get a bad injury.
Game for a laugh: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola ahead of the FIFA Ballon d'Or ceremony in Zurich
'I have no complaints about Wayne, I don't think it was unacceptable what he did. I think it was a natural reaction to a bad challenge from an opponent.
'But I can understand where Roberto's coming from because that's what happens with players today, they all appeal for penalties or players to be sent off, it's an unfortunate part of our game.'
Rooney himself said on Twitter: “Funny how people think i got kompany sent off. Im not ref. i didn't give red card. But it was a clear red card. 2 footed tackle.'
Ferguson also said he was relishing a fight to the end of the season with City for Premier League honours.
Crowd round: Wayne Rooney (right) was making his point as Vincent Kompany was sent off for his tackle on Manchester United winger Nani (below)
He added: 'We have a big challenge from Manchester City but that's not a problem for Manchester United, we have faced these challenges for many years.
'It doesn't matter where it comes from, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool or Tottenham, and Manchester City are a very good team.
'We know it's going to be a big, big fight towards the end of the season.'
Ferguson had been shortlisted for the FIFA coach of the year award along with Barcelona's Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho.
Asked whether Guardiola would be the perfect replacement at Old Trafford for when Ferguson does finally retire, the United boss questioned why he would want to leave Barcelona whom he described as an 'extraordinary team'.
Moving on: Rooney put the Kompany row behind him as he travelled to Zurich and presented Francisco Cruz of Portugal with the FIFA Interactive Player of the Year
Ferguson added: 'Why would Pep want to leave Barcelona If I was in his position I would firmly stay where I was.
'The Barcelona team at the moment is by far the best team. We have experienced three years of it and sometimes in football you have to hold your hand up and say “they are better than us”.
'It's not a crime or a weakness, just a plain fact that the Barcelona team now, particularly with Lionel Messi in the side, are just an extraordinary team.
'I can't see anyone taking a trophy for them this year, Real Madrid are probably the nearest to them.'
Best of the best: Ferguson was full of praise for Guardiola's Barcelona team and singled out Lionel Messi (right), comparing him to the likes of Diego Maradona
Ferguson said that Messi could now be judged alongside the greats of world football through the ages, even though he is still only 24.
'I would agree with that completely,' said Ferguson. 'Critics have always questioned whether players like Pele from the 50s could play today.
'The answer to that is great players would play in any generation. Lionel Messi could play in the 1950s and the present day, as could (Alfredo) Di Stefano, Pele, (Diego) Maradona, (Johan) Cruyff because they are all great players.
'Lionel Messi without question fits into that category.'
Messi's Barcelona team-mate Xavi supported Ferguson's view, saying: 'He's still young, only 24, and I think he's going to break all the records that exist in this sport.
'He's going to be one of the best footballers in the history of the sport.'