Wayne Rooney has explained how Gerard Pique’s poor performance against Bolton led to his exit from Manchester United, with Sir Alex Ferguson concluding he wasn’t suited to the Premier League.
The Spaniard spent four years with United, joining from Barcelona’s academy in 2004, though struggled to get into the team and was sold back to the Catalan giants for only £5million.
He won La Liga in his first campaign back at Camp Nou, doing so seven more times, as well as three Champions League titles – beating the Red devils in 2009 and 2011 – and also winning the World Cup and European Cup.
Ferguson would later admit he made a mistake letting Pique leave, though the defender was desperate for more game time and wanted to return to Barcelona.
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Now Rooney has revealed that Ferguson gave up on the Spanish defender when he was ‘bullied’ by Bolton in a Premier League game in November 2007, as Pique was subbed off after 59 minutes for Anderson as they lost 1-0.
‘Bolton away more or less finished Gerard Pique’s career at United,’ explained Wayne Rooney in his column for the Sunday Times.
‘He was young and got bullied there and I think that’s when Fergie decided that, physically, he wasn’t right for the Premier League.
‘I always remember Vidic: if we were going to Bolton — and it was the same when he was about to face Didier Drogba — he would be in the gym for two or three days before, pumping himself up.’
He continued: ‘Bolton away was always horrible. It was physical and you knew you had to win the fight to win the game. I remember Evra saying about Kevin Davies: “I hate this person.”
‘On throw-ins Kevin would go and pin the full back with his elbows all over their face and in challenges when the ball went down the line he would leave his foot in.
‘Bolton had bits of quality too and the way they fought and worked as a unit, then found moments to use that quality, was typical of how a team can beat better players by being more than the sum of its parts. It happened for Everton in the 1995 FA Cup final — I still don’t know how we beat United that day.
‘It happened when United played Barcelona in the 2008 Champions League semi-final. Barca played the better football by a mile in both legs and that was 180 minutes of pure hard work, of hanging in there, and riding your luck. Real teams realise that sometimes you have to win ugly.’