Sir Alex Ferguson has laughed off claims made by the Spanish press that Wayne Rooney is a 'hooligan' by explaining that the Manchester United forward wasn't fussed because he can't read Spanish.

Spanish sports newspaper Marca described Rooney as a 'football player and a hooligan rolled into one' and said he could easily be mistaken for one of United's travelling fans "yelling and drinking beer and jumping the queue to get in through Gate D." The paper also called him a 'freckled demon'.

The article caused a stir ahead of Manchester United's Champions League showdown against Real Madrid tonight, with former United full-back Gary Neville describing it as 'harsh'.

However Ferguson has attempted to diffuse the tension ahead of the clash at the Bernabeu, saying he wasn't interested in what the Madrid-based paper had to say.

"Well, he is a mature player now and he is 27 years of age," the Scot said last night.

"I am not interested in what a Madrid paper says. [Wayne] Rooney can't speak Spanish, can he?" 

"He can't read Spanish – so we are all right."

Manchester United have travelled to Spain without influential midfielder Paul Scholes, who is struggling with a knee injury.

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