Wayne Rooney has criticised Alex Ferguson for his tactics in Manchester United’s losses against Barcelona in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals.
In the four seasons between 2007/2008 to 2010/2011, Manchester United reached three Champions League finals. However, they only came away with one win which was against Chelsea in 2008.
They lost the other two finals to Barcelona, 2-0 in 2009 and 3-1 in 2011.
Rooney was writing in his column with The Sunday Times and he believes Alex Ferguson should have adopted different tactics to take on Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, citing the approach taken by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in last year’s final against Spurs in how they “ground it out.”
“It’s always hard for a club like Real to go into a game saying, ‘we’ll surrender the ball’,” Rooney wrote in his column as he previewed Man City’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid.
“It is the same for United.
“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’.
“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.
“There is being true to the club, but then there’s sitting back afterwards and thinking ‘we lost’.
“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 [Zinedine] Zidane has the same mindset.”
Since that loss to Barcelona in 2011, Manchester United have yet to get past the quarter-final stages of the Champions League.
However, they will be back in the competition next season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side finished third in the 2019/20 season, guaranteeing qualification for Europe’s top club competition.