Wayne Rooney challenged Sir Alex Ferguson over why he hadn't signed Mesut Özil at the height of the standoff that almost saw the striker leave for Manchester City in 2010, the former Manchester United manager has revealed.

Ferguson, who also reiterates that Rooney "asked away" the day after the final game of last season amid frustration at being left out of the side and substituted, gave the centre-forward short shrift at the meeting.

At his press conference to launch his book on Tuesday, Ferguson expanded on that allegation, saying: "Wayne asked away because he felt he was playing out of position.

"I can understand that. My judgment was that Wayne wasn't playing well enough.

"But when you see him playing like he is, do you think I would drop him? No way. He is England's great white hope and a great player for Manchester United. The player who is playing now is a different player."

In his book, My Autobiography, Ferguson says he felt Rooney was being controlled by his agent, Paul Stretford, during the protracted episode in 2010, which ended with the player signing a new contract.

Ferguson felt Rooney was "sheepish" during the confrontation, in which he said United should have pursued Özil when he signed for Real Madrid from Werder Bremen, and had been "programmed in what he was trying to say".

Ferguson is full of praise for Rooney's natural ability, revealing that United tried to snatch him from Everton at 14 and 16, but also makes frequent reference to his physique.

"With that kind of physique it was hard to imagine him playing into his 30s," says Ferguson, revealing that when he re-signed in 2010 he imagined him developing into a midfielder.

Ferguson claims it was a mistake for Roy Hodgson to allow Rooney to take a week's holiday before Euro 2012 because "he was never the sort who could take days off".

"He would receive no leniency from me. I would hammer him for any drop in condition," writes Ferguson, who is withering about his contribution in his final season.

Despite occasional flashes of brilliance, he felt Rooney was "struggling to get by people" and had "lost some of his old thirst".

"I left him to discuss his future with David Moyes, hoping to see many more great performances from him at Old Trafford," concludes Ferguson.

Ironically, Özil was one of the transfer targets passed over by Moyes during a difficult transitional summer for United and ended up joining Arsenal for £42.5m.