Former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney claims Sir Alex Ferguson’s “suicidal” tactics led to the Red devils’ Champions League final defeats against Barcelona.
The two teams met each other in the two finals in Rome and at Wembley, with Barca emerging winners on both occasions with 2-0 and 3-1 victories respectively.
Ferguson won two European cups during his time at Old Trafford, with the first one coming in 1999 against Bayern at Camp Nou before they had a win over Chelsea in Moscow later.
Speaking ahead of Real Madrid’s trip to Etihad Stadium on Friday, the United legend conceded that Ferguson took the “wrong approach” in both finals against the Catalans.
“It’s always hard for a club like Real to go into a game saying ‘we’ll surrender the ball’. It is the same for United,” Rooney told The Sunday Times.
“But we lost two Champions League finals going toe-to-toe with Guardiola’s Barcelona, by trying to press high and get round them, which was suicidal.
“I remember Alex Ferguson saying ‘we’re Man United and we’re going to attack, it’s in the culture of this football club’ and thinking ‘I’m not too sure about this’.
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“I think all the players knew, deep down, it was the wrong approach, that we were abandoning the way that had brought us success in that 2008 semi-final, and sure enough both times we got outplayed.”
Wayne Rooney went on to reference Liverpool’s 2-0 victory against Tottenham in last year’s final as proof that pragmatism reaps rewards in football’s biggest stages.
“There is being true to the club, but then there’s sitting back afterwards and thinking ‘we lost’,” Rooney added.
“For me, it doesn’t matter how you do it in these big Champions League games, as long as you win — look at how Liverpool ground it out in last year’s final — and I think [Madrid boss Zinedine] Zidane has the same mindset.”