has been told in no uncertain terms he is not yet ready to be Manchester United captain.
Rooney has said several times he wants to captain his club when current skipper Gary Neville stands down.
But last week Ferguson shocked everybody by handing the armband to John O'Shea for the season's opener against Birmingham City, on a day when other candidates Edwin van der Sar, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand did not play.
Asked about it yesterday, Ferguson responded tersely: 'I can explain it. He (O'Shea) was the longest-serving player. Simple.'
Ferguson had clearly forgotten that Paul Scholes played that day and was equally abrupt when pressed on Rooney's claims.
'Probably a lot would love to be captain,' he said. 'Rooney? It's possible. Not at the moment.'
O'Shea could captain United again today and it looks as though Rooney now finds himself at the back of a long queue at Old Trafford.
Ferguson has previously spoken enthusiastically about Rooney's credentials and it is not clear what has changed the manager's mind.
He certainly professed to have no problem with Rooney's caution for a late tackle on Burnley defender Tyrone Mears at Turf Moor late on in Wednesday night's 1-0 defeat.
Ferguson insisted: 'It was a nothing challenge. The referee handled it the right way.'
Rooney is expected to be paired with Dimitar Berbatov at Wigan today after third striker Michael Owen again missed chances on Wednesday.
Berbatov has not scored this season while Owen has not managed to score in the league since January.
Ferguson said: 'The ratio of goals last season was our poorest for 15 years in terms of goal difference.
'That was an issue last year and it will be an issue this year unless we step up to the mark, which I am confident we will do. It's a good squad of players.'