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Wayne Rooney has risked the wrath of Manchester United supporters after admitting that just four members of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2008 team would have gotten into the current Manchester City lineup. Pep Guardiola’s outfit are just a few games away from potentially completing the treble, only matched by United’s 1999 side, as they top the Premier League while contest the Champions League semi-finals against Real Madrid and are also preparing for a Manchester derby in the FA Cup final.
Rooney, now head coach of DC United, has clearly been in awe of City having watched them overtake Arsenal in an attempt to defend their title. His 2008 team won both the league and Champions League in one of Ferguson’s best-ever seasons at Old Trafford, but Rooney feels that over the course of a season they would not have been able to get the better of the current City team.
“Could the 2008 United team have competed with City? Head to head, we’d have had a good chance but over a 38-game season they would have had the edge,” he wrote in The Times. “I think we’d have been similar to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, able to beat them in one-off games but usually just a bit behind them in the final league table.
“There were players in our team who would have got into this City side. Paul Scholes would have been perfect, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic too. I believe I would have fitted into it as well — and I would have loved to play with Kevin De Bruyne and [Erling] Haaland.”
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Rooney claimed that if City do lift the three remaining trophies they would be “up there” with the 1999 United team as the best Premier League team of all time, while he admitted that he wished he would have been able to have been coached by Guardiola and pointed out three examples of players developed under the Spaniard that Rooney has taken inspiration from as a coach himself.
“If they win the Champions League and the title, much as it pains me, I think you’d have to put City up there with United’s 1999 treble winners as the best Premier League team of all time,” Rooney added. “Our 2008 United team were also a great side but the way City dominate opponents and make it look so easy, so often — while constantly fighting on all fronts — is beyond what we did.
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“I’d love to have played under Guardiola. I look at how he develops people as players and individuals, at what he is doing with John Stones and how he has affected Jack Grealish. He’s an incredible coach.
“You look at how he has changed his backline this season, the progress of Nathan Ake and so many examples of his work.
“You see someone constantly working on the shape of his team and on new ways to break down the opposition. As a manager I marvel at that.”
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