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Ferguson must solve Rooney crisis

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Phil McNulty | 12:11 UK time, Monday, 18 October 2010

When a Manchester United player wishes to make use of Old Trafford's exit, a blatant act of public defiance against Sir Alex Ferguson can usually be guaranteed to do the job.

So when Wayne Rooney took the opportunity to switch attention away from his drab contribution to England's goalless draw against Montenegro at Wembley by openly contradicting Ferguson's version of events about his absence from United's team, it was a moment of huge significance.

Ferguson had explained Rooney was missing from recent starting line-ups as a result of an ankle injury. The player, in a direct challenge to his manager's word and consequently his authority, insisted he was perfectly fit.

A relationship that was almost "father and son" had suffered a serious fracture. How Ferguson chooses to treat it will shape Manchester United's immediate future.

All the indications are that Rooney will now refuse to sign a new contract United hoped to have sealed after the World Cup. It may just be an aggressive negotiating ploy but the problems for all parties run deeper that that.

Wayne Rooney sits on the Old Trafford bench as Sir AlexFerguson watches ther actionRooney disputes Ferguson's claims he is injured. Photo: Getty Images

When players leave Manchester United, it has always been at Ferguson's behest. Paul Ince's self-styled reputation as "The Guv'nor" rankled with the Scot. Jaap Stam - wrongly as it turned out - was deemed to be past his best and David Beckham's worldwide celebrity status did not sit easily with the manager.

Most recently, Carlos Tevez was judged too expensive an option to pursue and was lured into the eternally grateful arms of Manchester City.

Ferguson always had an alternative strategy to fall back on - and even though Cristiano Ronaldo's £80m departure to Real Madrid was done with some reluctance, it was widely accepted that his Old Trafford career had run its course and it was time for a change of scenery.

What made it easier was that Ferguson had Rooney. Lured from Everton as a teenager and placed as the centrepiece of United's team, he was to be the jewel in United's crown for his peak years. And so it proved until these last few turbulent months.

It now seems that the unthinkable could happen and Ferguson could lose a Manchester United player he wants to keep - and at the worst possible time for the club.

If Rooney feels pained at Ferguson's treatment of him since his private life hit the headlines, then it is hard to see the player as the victim. Ferguson, wrongly in my opinion, protected him by leaving him out of the game at former club Everton - and the striker was seen with his ankle packed in ice after being substituted at Bolton. If this was an elaborate ruse to disguise his lack of form, Rooney appeared to be a willing party to it.

Ferguson has proved to be a master at protecting his players in the past but it is clear Rooney has no wish for protection. And while the Scot threw his trademark shield around Rooney in public, he is well within his rights to remind him of his responsibilities to Manchester United and beyond in private, even if it means a few games in the deep freeze until he is ready to return.

Has Ferguson mishandled the situation to allow it to spiral out of control? Not from where most sound judges are sitting.

Rooney, however, is in a powerful position, despite the worst run of form since he emerged as a 16-year-old at Everton.

This is because, given United's current squad strength, they may need him more than he needs them. It is stretching credibility to the limit to suggest a player of such natural talent will not emerge from this dip sooner rather than later.

In the bluntest terms, this United team is not good enough to compete seriously for elite trophies such as the Champions League without Rooney making his stellar contributions.

Wayne Rooney gets a pat on the back from Sir Alex FergusonCould Rooney swap Old Trafford for Eastlands? Photo: Getty Images

Rooney is still United's best player and for Ferguson to lose him would arguably be more damaging than losing Ronaldo because, for all Dimitar Berbatov's brilliance this season, he has no-one else who comes near the Merseysider's instinctive, explosive gifts.

He has been stalling on a new contract and United's failure to adequately replace Ronaldo's world-class talent is also believed to be a source of frustration.

Rooney carried United almost single-handedly at stages last season and, although he has drifted for club and country since injuring an ankle against Bayern Munich last season, it is surely only a matter of time before he returns to his best.

If the Rooney rift is not repaired, it may not be a case of can United afford to sell him - it may be a case of can they afford not to sell him?

He is out of contract in 20 months and could leave Old Trafford on a free transfer. For a club that recently announced a pre-tax loss of £80m, it is not a serious option to allow such a prized and lucrative asset walk away free of charge.

If Rooney ultimately decides he must leave United, then the club will be forced to capitulate to interested parties or risk the sort of financial hit they cannot afford to take. And you can be sure the club's owners - the Glazers - will take some of the blame.

While Rooney looks to be holding the cards, he should also beware of making a tactical error at a pivotal stage in his career.

Real Madrid, inevitably, will be tipped as a possible destination but Rooney has not only never expressed a desire to play abroad, he has been firmly set against the idea.

Chelsea? Interested but at this stage an unlikely destination.

And then we come to the real wildcard, the name Ferguson will dread as the nightmare option. The very thought of luring Rooney across to Eastlands will get the juices flowing at Manchester City - and the money required to buy and pay the player amounts to small change in their world.

Remember the glee with which Tevez was paraded on a "Welcome To Manchester" billboard after signing for City from United? The idea of those Ferguson called "the noisy neighbours" doing the same with Rooney would be regarded as the ultimate coup.

It would certainly be as close to unbearable as it gets for Ferguson, who prides himself on keeping City under the thumb.

And for Rooney himself, would this be a move that would take his career on an upward curve? He may well feel City's bottomless pit of cash makes them a viable option but there is an element of Rooney needing to be careful what he wishes for.

Ferguson does not have form for kissing and making up with players who have crossed him but Rooney's worth on and off the field to United - and the idea that City would make a serious attempt to buy him (which they would) - may force him to take a softer line.

It will take all of Ferguson's experience and nous to solve a problem that has become a crisis. And this is one broken relationship he should not be too proud to try to repair.

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Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Did I miss something? Why's there a picture of fat Ronaldo with a badger's tail stapled to his forehead?

  • Comment number 2.

    "Welcome To Manchester" Wayne.

    Pulling the blue shirt on will instantly make you better looking, Coleen will fall back in love with you and all will be well in the Rooney household.

    Look what it did for Carlos?

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't think United would sell him to City no matter what price they offered...

    I also don't see Wayne actually leaving, and although it would reinforce a worrying trend of big players leaving Old Trafford, United are bigger than Rooney and if he wants to go then we're better off without him.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    If it comes down to Fergie vs. Rooney, you can only support Fergie. If Mr McNulty thinks that anybody could do a better job of taking players under his wing and supporting them through difficult times he is wildly misjudging the mans quality.

    Of all the players that have been through Man Utd, which ones have said a bad word against Fergie? Didn't Wayne fall out with David Moyes before he left.

    I wonder if Wayne Rooney's problem is actually Wayne Rooney.

  • Comment number 6.

    I can see United slipping down the pecking order in the next few years. If they lose Rooney and Vidic, with Giggs, Scholes and VDS retiring I can't see players like Anderson, Nani, Evans, Carrick, Macheda and Valencia stepping up to anywhere near that level. With the improvements City and Spurs have made we could see United regularly dropping out of the top 4 which coupled with the debts they have could prove financially disasterous not to mention make them unable to attract the top talent.

  • Comment number 7.

    It had to come at the wrong timne...they all want money...Maybe we should of not laughed at liverpools situation because if he leaves...were gunna be the one fighting for 4th place.

  • Comment number 8.

    "And for Rooney himself, would this be a move that would take his career on an upward curve? He may well feel City's bottomless pit of cash makes them a viable option but there is an element of Rooney needing to be careful what he wishes for."

    How is it anything but a move forward?

    United aren't going to win the league for years with the financial position of the club and City will go on to win it many times.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    I work with lots of United fans for my sins and have for years listened to their tireless mantra of 'no one is beiiger than United'.

    This of course is complete nonsense as Sir Alex has been bigger than United for years and supported wholeheartedly whenever his toys come out of the pram (Beckham, Stamm, BBC interviews...).

    No Rooney or a historic first, a back down from Sir Alex, should be fun to watch it develop.

    As a non United fan this is pure sopa opera and great to watch!

  • Comment number 11.

    I think Rooney is in decline and maybe a move abroad would help him rediscover his passion and form. If the PL keeps losing its stars abroad the PL will soon be in decline as well.

  • Comment number 12.

    "I don't think United would sell him to City no matter what price they offered..."

    If someone is offering the Glazers £50m for an asset that will be worthless in 18 months then i don't think they'll care who that someone is.

  • Comment number 13.

    Am I the only United fan that thinks this could be Ferguson making (what in my opinion is now becoming common) a mistake?

    Sir Alex is legend and rightly so, but this hard line is surely at a time that United cannot afford to.

    Rooney has made some awful mistakes in his private life but on the pitch he is our talisman and we need him. He also needs to be retained for the next United manager to build his first 'post fergie' team around.

    Maybe this whole episode is more of a sign that SAF has come to the end of his United career and that we need to move on with a new manager who has the patience to deal more effectively with the current breed of multi-millionaire premier league footballers!

  • Comment number 14.

    If the fat boy Wayne wants to leave Manchester United let him leave, we don't need him, If he left he will never have the same success as he did with Manchester United, take a look at Beckham what did he achieve?....

  • Comment number 15.

    "Money talks,but it don't sing and dance and it don't walk. And long as I can have Rooney here with me I'd much rather be forever in blue teams, forever in BLUE Teams"

  • Comment number 16.

    Good, well-balanced article this.
    Rooney is a great player, but has been pants for the last 6 months or so. Not entirely convinced that's down to the injury late last year either, he appears to have problems in his head.
    From an England perspective, he needs to do the right thing now, otherwise there's no doubt we could actually have seen the best of him already.
    I think Man U is probably the best place for him - Chelsea don't possess players who can provide an example, and I'm not sure that Man C yet have the stability - but if not I personally think he should head to Real. Mourinho is a fantastic man-manager, and I get the impression what Rooney needs right now is an arm around him.
    Having said that, if I had to bet I'd say he'll go in January and go to Man C for some extraordinary fee.

  • Comment number 17.

    Just out of interest... Is Macheda smoking in that pic?

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    Glazers....... Are you listening?

    This is the final straw, expect a backlash, even from those fools that have denied, That you've took everything from our club.

    If Wayne had signed a new contract last year, this would not be as serious as it is now.

  • Comment number 21.

    At the time I questioned Rooney being left out against Everton being more disciplinary than protection and I may have been right.
    How do you punish a multi millionaire footballer who thinks he can do anything he likes in life and on the pitch?

    Rooney is a man child who is not overly bright so Fergie took his ball away. Dropping him is the only way to get through to him.

    Ferguson does not like his players dragging the clubs reputation through the dirt and as was mentioned in the article if you fall out with him you go.
    No one is bigger than United if he does not want to play for the manager or the club he goes.
    Hopefully the money won't be trousered by the Glazers but reinvested in a team that has its best players over 34!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Anyone who watched the match on Saturday will know that Rooney did absolutely nothing to improve the team when he appeared as substitute. His form has been chronic this season. The game was thrown away by VDS and a comedy own goal and replacing Giggs with Gibson. Gibson is not a United player, not by any stretch. If Rooney doesn't improve before Christmas I would be happy to see the back of him and get United players in. His behaviour on and off pitch has been nothing short of embarrassing for him and us.

  • Comment number 23.

    On Current form, injured or not Rooney would be hard to sell, he has been dire this season.
    Ferguson appears to have a rule at United and its this, I AM THE BOSS. Stam was let go, not because he was past his best, but because he ruffled feathers with his book, Beckham thought he was bigger than United, RVN wanted to do things his way, Roy Keane became a pain in the rear end whinging, Ince was as Fergie said it himself a Big time charlie, in other words, a loveable kid I reckon but not mature, Ronaldo was not playing for the team but for himself, and Tevez's frequent show of disdain for being substituted all ground against the masters first principle. Ferguson is boss if you get too big for your boots you are out.
    However perhaps the malaise around Rooney, is not just limited to him, something is affecting the team, the concentration is gone, and it's not down to bad players, or even good players playing badly, just silly lapses... Following United for nearly 40 years now, I can say I have seen all this before, you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. If it was last season with Rooney on form you might be right, not now, not on this form... and 2012 is a long way away in football terms.
    If Rooney went elsewhere you have to ask, a) where? and b) who would he replace? At present he won't get in the team at Madrid or Barca, I can't see him playing under Benetez, and I don't think even Rooney is silly enough to go and play for City.

  • Comment number 24.

    I feel Rooney's game is all about the mind and if, God forbid, his marraige collapses, then he might never be the same player again, ever. He's never been in this place before and from his behaviour, he seems not to handle it well so far, IMHO. If he goes to another PL club then maybe he can re-discover himself, but in Spain he will be truely finished. He will not be able to come to terms with fighting for a place in the team. My money on him staying with Man-U though.

  • Comment number 25.

    As a Liverpool fan I think we should swap him for Torres.

  • Comment number 26.

    "If someone is offering the Glazers £50m for an asset that will be worthless in 18 months then i don't think they'll care who that someone is."

    Agreed, if it's the only offer on the table and he wants out then I don't think they'd say no. I was assuming that Real will put in an offer at least somewhere near, as is always 'reported' on the gossip pages, possibly my mistake for listening to them thought!

  • Comment number 27.

    Phil knee jerk reaction McNulty writes again.

    Is there any credible source for this story before we talk of Rooney leaving? I can't see it happening, the only ones who can are the usual dross spouters that post on here day in day out. As a neutral I would be disappointed to see Rooney leave the Premier League if it ever came down to it but I really don't buy into all this "end of Man Utd" talk if he does. Some of you need educating.

  • Comment number 28.

    Again i have to disagree with Phil McNulty. Surprised? No.

    Rooney or Berbatov Or Ferdinand Or anyone, will never be bigger than Manchester United.

    Rooney himself is going threw dark times, On and off the pitch. Hasn't looked like himself a long time. As for this public defiance you speak of phil, please watch the interview where Rooney admits he had picked up an ankle injury but says he feels he has shaken it off.

    After which Ferguson said the boys problem is he always thinks he is fit and wants to play. There wasn't much of a disagreement. The media just made the most of it.

    Rooney hasn't said he will not sign a contract. The only official line to come out of Old Trafford on this story is it's "non-sense that Rooney will not be sold in January".

    I will remind you Phil and everyone else who seems to forget, Rooney is not as highly rated in europe as he is in the eyes of the english fans and united fans. And that's with his form last season.

    Rooney is at the best place he can be. I think he will stay at Man united once his head is straight. He will sign a new contract.

    I also remember this sort of things involving Vidic after he had already agreed a new contract 3 months before in private. The Media i'm sure are making the most of it.

  • Comment number 29.

    Agree that Utd would miss Rooney if he were to leave whether in Jan or at the end of the season but I do think the player needs to take a reality check.

    When Rooney came on the field on Sat his touch was absolutly woeful and it's obvious that his head is not in the right frame of mind. If he is getting upset at Fergie for not selecting him and stropping around both on/off the field then the club would be better off without him. Sure, I know that Utd don't hold any fear for opponents at the moment and a Utd without Rooney may slide out the CL 4 elite. But I would rather have that than a culture of big egos developing thinking they are bigger than the club.

    This is what happened at Utd post '68 culminating in Busby's retirement when the 'big' players thought they were better than the management and Utd did not act quickly enough and a slow demise ensued. I would rather have a quick, short drop and reality check for the club which acts as a stimulus to bouce back straight away otherwise we could be in danger of an LFC post '90 demise.

    And I don't want Rafa becoming manager of Utd in 2025! ;)

  • Comment number 30.

    DAMIEN DRUCE - Spot on. I think Fergie is at least 12 months past his sell-by date now, and I think Man U have missed the chance to get the man who should replace him, as he's now at Real.
    COULSONTOM - Not sure I share your optimism about that. Man C have an uncanny knack of c*cking everything up, and the way they're going about things at the mo doesn't fill me with confidence!

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    "Just out of interest... Is Macheda smoking in that pic?"

    I'd hazard it's chewing-gum related, although it does look a bit like a scraggy dog-end. :)

    I've no idea what to think of this. United will always be United whoever comes and goes, but I do think it would be a shame for us to lose the lad.

    It's a gamble either way. If we sell him, he may go on to have a billiant later career and we'd be forever kicking ourselves that more was not done to hold on to him. On the flip-side of the coin though, how long is this barren patch goig to continue? Can we afford to play with effectively 10 men if he's on the field?

    I'm not as pessimistic as others, we're unbeaten, yes we've dropped some silly points which would've seen us top if we hadn't. But I still see us up there come later this season.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    If this is a load of rubbish and wayne is having dinner with fergi i will be running round naked...OHHHHHH YER who remembers wes brown sitiation he rejected then he changed his mind because he knew he wont be at a better club than united but you could say this is differnt.

    Rooney get 90,000 a week and ronaldo gets 200,000 a week...

    Ive lose all total respect i've rooney is my favirote player...if he does go to madird ahhhh were just gunna see another owen.

    Stay wayne please!!!!!!!!!
    or your gunne ynwa

  • Comment number 35.

    Wow, an article that ISNT about Liverpool? Shock horror!

  • Comment number 36.

    Money talks in this game these days, and i can easily see the £££s of City outweighing the history and culture of European great clubs. Lets not forget his indiscretions have surely cost him a pretty penny in lost sponsorship deals, which he will need to recoup.

    However, is this just a game of his class brinkmanship going on? Rooney has often expressed his desire to play the rest of his career and Manchester United, so i am wondering if things have changed so much or if the right sort of money is not being tabled at the moment.

    Rooney is in a sort of weak position as his form has dropped alarmingly so to argue he demands a mega pay rise is difficult to justify on performances at the moment, so maybe the threat of being tempted away will act as another pressure point to apply to the Old Trafford money men.

    It does seem a lot like a bit of a tantrum from Rooney - after all none of this is the fault of Ferguson or Manchester United, just down to his own indiscretions - things like the smoking, drinking and urinating in public is really yobbish and not becoming of a top premiership footballer.

  • Comment number 37.

    Fergie letting his pride and pigheadedness get in the way of the club again. That's why we are so far behind Barca and Real. The TEVEZ sale was a massive error, as was the Stam sale. From the healthy state of May 2008 to now, Fergie has gradually reduced this squad to its bare bones and now he will stab it in the heart. Well done Fergie.

  • Comment number 38.

    "This United team is not good enough to compete seriously for elite trophies such as the Champions League without Rooney making his stellar contributions"

    I don't think it is good enough with Rooney either. If Rooney went would the money be reinvested in the team or lost to debt repayments? United are in decline and Ferguson has his work cut out to rebuild to compete at the very top.

    City would be a good move for Rooney if he wants to stay at the top.

  • Comment number 39.

    Forget all the Rooney fuss...

    What the heck is Macheda smoking on the bench in the first pic!?

    And right in front of Sir Alex, too.

  • Comment number 40.

    The thing he cannot live with is being benched. I consider two possible outcomes.

    1. He will sign up after a bit of demure objections to a pay cut.

    2. He goes to ManC.

  • Comment number 41.

    We should get Rooney's agent on a retainer at Liverpool if this kind of story comes out the day after we lose at Everton to go second above last in the table. Thank you lord for taking the focus off us.

    I am not totally surprised at Rooney's decision. With Giggs and Scholes coming to the end of their careers and many others at the moment without quality replacements or often injured it is quite odd that Utd haven't got a marquee signing. Giggs and Valencia are both currently injured so Rooney must be wondering where the crosses are going to come from. Attacking wise apart from Berba (also now in his 30's) there is Rooney and Nani that are probably the way ahead over the next 5 years. With utd's well publicised debts where the money is going to come from to fill the rest of the team is probably what is worrying rooney...never mind the tabloid speculation.

    Alternatively it could be that he saw the photo of the lady of the night that Peter Crouch was 'Allegedly' with in Spain and thought I am off to Espange to get me some!

  • Comment number 42.

    Well as for a credible source I made it up on 606 on Saturday!

  • Comment number 43.

    For all his faults Rooney is still head and shoulders above anyone at United at the moment. United are a club in decline and I think it would be in his best interests to abandon this sinking ship.
    Don't write off Liverpool showing an interest but Rooney, like most English players hasn't got the intelligence to adapt to a foreign country.

  • Comment number 44.

    Lookls like Macheda will be next out of the door seeing as he's got the temerity to smoke a fag on the bench in front of Ferguson.

  • Comment number 45.

    Rooney will never be bigger than United... and your suggestion that we need him more than he needs us is ludicrous.

    I totally agree with Ferguson's stance.. his actions have prooved to be an embarrasment to himself, his family and subsequently the club he represents. If Rooney is too pig-headed to accept this then maybe the time is right for him to go. Ferguson tried to keep him out of the spotlight while the whole thing blew over.. which Rooney in turn threw in his face.

    On Current for he isn't worth 15K a week, never mind the 150K he is not willing to accept. Personally if I was SAF I would freeze him out completely until January because judging by his touch and desire regular game time will only trail his value down. I cant see Rooney in a City shirt, then again I dont think he has the temperamnet or composure to be a success in Spain. I could most likely see Chelsea as the most probable destination, and maybe he'll spit his dummy out again when he can't dislodge Drogba.

    Rooney is at fault, and while the ball is in his court I for one would not be shedding any tears if he left. If he is just trying to hold our club to ransom I hope he is sold. Bring in Suarez to replace him, a player with genuine guile and skill. Rooney has never been consistently World Class.. rather he has always been playing second fiddle to Van Nistelrooy and Ronaldo, he now has had his chance to be the big fish at Man Utd and seems to hve blown it.

  • Comment number 46.

    Phil Numpty

    This is the same guy that said Hodgson would be good for Liverpool. Then again he is an Everton fan ha!

    BTW, Stam wasn't deemed to be past it. It was the allegations about being tapped up that got him shipped out of United.

  • Comment number 47.

    Fergie vs Rooney

    They'll both have left Old Trafford in a couple of years time, except Rooney will still be playing football somewhere at the highest level. Fergie will be 70 by then and have retired from football management.

  • Comment number 48.

    Has maybe the power of the modern day footballer breached the previously unbreachable ?

    Ferguson could be at that point where all "one man band" leaders reach ?

    Their aura and power over their underlings has peaked, previous challenges such as Beckham, Van Nistelroy, Stam etc were met at a time when Ferguson still had the mantra, now though the game has changed even in such a short time period.

    But this time its different because irrespective of his recent garbage form, 31 goals in 35 games in the last season pre injury means that Rooney's challenge is different. Even if things are patched up, will Ferguson become a "Dead Man Walking", his greatest asset, his ability to manmanage and motivate millionaires, damaged beyond repair. Sure, short term, the damage could be limited but lets get a couple of facts about this United team

    2008 - Liverpool threw away the league title, it was not so much United's magnificence that won it
    2009 - Chelsea almost lost the title, dont forgot right at the end, the initiative was handed to United.

    So, United as a club have peaked,yes they are still eating at the top table but the lack of conviction in the last 2 seasons is becoming more apparent, the cracks on the pitch are now more worryingly being accompanied by a crack off the pitch which could be a problem they cant solve.

    You can try to buy players to take the place of ones who are disaffected but trying to rebuild the aura of who is in charge is another thing.

    United in the short term will continue to prosper to a degree but in mountaineering terms, they are on the way down from the peak.

  • Comment number 49.


    I am usually in absolute agreement with most of what you say in your blogs, but in this instance I fundamentally disagree that Rooney holds the ace cards in this scenario.

    First and foremost is the Manchester United culture here. No player has ever proved to be irreplaceable. Many have believed they are and fuelled by an agent and media culture you could be forgiven for beng coerced into belivng such stories. Roy Keane was irreplaceable and yet United have had their most successful few years in the last 12 since his departure. Beckham left and the media believed Ronaldo was a poor standard replacement... Van Nistelrooy paved the way for Rooney and Tevez and even Ronaldo's departure allowed Rooney the freedom to express his talents more prominently.

    So the reality of the Rooney situation is probably this; the lad is volatile and is heavily advised, he feels hard doen to and he is frustrated. He is also hugely out of form, and at Old Trafford there are a few pretenders that are making great strides towards filling hte number 9 - 10 thrones. For all United's frailty this season, it has not been in the attacking divisions its bveen defensively the team have struggled even with a very out of sorts Rooney.

    If he is to be sold, it will be for a very heft fee. Let's not forget that despite the other media honeypot of Manchester United's financial state, the club has £165m in the bank. Does anybody serioulsy think that Sir Alex would reamain at the helm if he could not buy as and when he feels he requires a player.

    Rooney's options away from Old Trafford would be limited. He is an emotional lad and I'm not sure how well he would cope abroad, he lacks the sophistication of a Beckham and I don't really see him fitting the Soave sophisticated demure of Madrid life.

    In relaity Manchester City or Chelsea would be the best options, but would that be possible, would United allow it, I'm not so sure.

    Rooney can and if necessary will be replaced. I hope for the players sake he listens to SAF and not his advisors and develops into a Manchester United great.

  • Comment number 50.

    No player is bigger than the club. If he's sold, he's sold. Happens all the time in football

    Sir alex isn't afraid of making big decisions, and his track record is heavily in his favour.

  • Comment number 51.

    #25 "As a Liverpool fan I think we should swap him for Torres."

    A player on the decline joining a club on the decline? We'd get 3 regular England players in the Championship; bring it on

  • Comment number 52.

    Wayne Rooney is his own worst enemy ,he has developed a liking for the sordid side of the good life to the detriment of his form on the pitch.SAF obviously isn't amused by his antics and bad press so it's possible that Rooney will be on his way. It's well known that in europe the press don't hound star players about their private life being more concerned about their football skills, so yes it's possible that Man Utd would sell and it would probably be a world record bid. Christmas pocket money for the Glazers notwithstanding.

  • Comment number 53.

    This is just a way of his agent trying to get more money out of United. Due to his terrible behaviour, he has lost some lucrative deals so is trying to screw more money from the football club. Offer him a pay rise, if he doesn't accept it by the beginning of December, put him up for transfer in the January window.

  • Comment number 54.

    Not going to lose any sleep just yet. Could well be that the reports are rubbish, or even if they are true Fergie might well convince Rooney to change his mind.

    But if it is true then the simple principle applies as always - no player is bigger than Manchester United. What Rooney does off the pitch is none of my concern but his form in the last six months is very worrying, and if he wants to go then flog him off to the highest bidder, preferably abroad, sign a striker to replace him, and that's that. People making these statements that United would struggle without Rooney obviously haven't paid much attention, SAF has always been able to replace the top players.

  • Comment number 55.

    If Rooney wants to join that other ex Utd money grabber over at City he should be escorted to Eastlands as soon as possible any Utd fan who takes Rooneys side against Fergie is mad.

  • Comment number 56.

    43. At 2:08pm on 18 Oct 2010, yamser43 wrote:
    For all his faults Rooney is still head and shoulders above anyone at United at the moment. United are a club in decline and I think it would be in his best interests to abandon this sinking ship.
    Don't write off Liverpool showing an interest but Rooney, like most English players hasn't got the intelligence to adapt to a foreign country.


    You say United are a club in decline, and that for that reason Rooney should leave, then in the next sentence suggest that, of all clubs, Liverpool might be interested.


  • Comment number 57.

    Sorry but come again?

    You say United aren't 'Good enough' to challenge for the Premier League or Champions League but only months ago with a smaller squad than now, they finished only 1 point behind Chelsea, and only 'lost' to Bayern on the ridiculous(away goals) rule. In a 180 minute + tie that Bayern only ever actually 'led' for about 5 minutes!

    I know that they say a week is a long time in Football but have you really got such a short term memory that you've already forgotten what happened last season and are already discounting it?

    United are still Unbeaten in all comps are 2 wins away from qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

    'Rooney Form or No Rooney Form' United will be challenging in all comps this season

    There's Still 90 points to play for in the league maybe by xmas time you can come back and write an article based on 20 games instead of the just last 2 draws to draw such drastic conclusions?

  • Comment number 58.

    The real mistake Ferguson made was to play Rooney last season in the Bayern return leg at OT when he was clearly injured and in pain... has he honestly played a good 90 minutes since? His long range shooting has gone to pot...

    I think that decision has had a massive effect on what has happened to this lad since...

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    Why is this blog the link on the article AND the football homepage? What happened to the link to the 606 thread where we can talk about this as we want?

  • Comment number 61.

    "When players leave Manchester United, it has always been at Ferguson's behest."

    I don't think that's true as he didn't want to lose Ronaldo or Tevez. I'm not sure he wanted to lose Heinze either. It's true Man Utd with their wealth have not traditionally been a selling club but the Glazer debt means they now have other considerations other than "Ferguson's behest" which dictates which players they can keep. Players left and Ferguson may have said he wanted them to (though being resigned to losing them is probably closer to the truth), but I would treat that statement with as much credence as I would his analysis of sport-related ankle injuries. Truth is if a player wants to leave there is very little the manager (any manager) can do.

    "Rooney is still United's best player"
    Not this season he isn't. In this game you are only as good as your last game, and for the last 6months Rooney has been anything but United's best player. Ronaldo was arguably more important to United and in better form and they sold him.

    I suspect as is usual in these circumstances Rooney's refusal to sign a new contract may well be a negotiating ploy to get more money and as such United fans will do well to remember that the next time he kisses the badge!

  • Comment number 62.

    I personally think that the media needs to step back, I mean, if anyone was in the media spotlight for the amount of time football players are in I reckon a lot of people would crumble, with the about of negative abuse they get.

    What ever happened to getting the information from the source? Such as Rooney, or the honest truth from Fergie? Honesty goes a long way, and it would be easier on both parties if they just came out with the honest truth instead of throwing rumours at each other.

    Has anyone actually asked Wayne to give an opinion on the matter? It just seems to me that people are putting words into his mouth. I think we should all stand back, and let Fergie and Rooney sort out the problems, because as soon as they do the likelihood is that Rooney will be firing on all cylinders, which would benefit United and England.

  • Comment number 63.

    As a United fan, you can't fault Rooney's straight passion for the game, he has to be the last of England's street footballers. He is also the best English striker of the last 15 years(when on form) and would be in my all-Fergie-era United starting XI, up front with Cantona.

    You also have to wonder what form of scum thinks that his extra-curricular activities are any of our business.

    One thing he does seem to be lacking at the moment though is self-awareness and brains. He wants to get through this off-field mess by playing football - he doesn't know any other way. Yet Fergie can see his head isn't straight and that it's affecting his football. Hence for both his and the team's good, Wayne's being wrapped in cotton wool - it's just that while I sympathise with the assasin, he's being too stubborn a git.

    I just hope he sorts himself out though, preferably without leaving United.

    As for Phil's point about Wayne having been willing to go along with it, maybe he was to start with and then lost patience. It happens.

  • Comment number 64.

    Headline should read 'Ferguson WILL solve Rooney crisis' It's nothing that he hasn't seen or done before. Not a problem if Rooney stays, a problem that Fergie will solve if he goes. That is all.

  • Comment number 65.

    United have been poor at times this season, and increasingly. It seems Rooney's form has been part of this. He hasn't played well, but without his spark, United have looked on a par with other Premiership sides. West Brom played very well second half at the weekend, and United giving goals away has become too common. Without Rooney or previously Ronaldo, they need someone to give that spark. I'm not sure they have a creative enough midfield, few players to unlock defences apart from the master Scholes and the mostly sublime but often lazy Berbatov. Nani shows potential, but without the inspiration of Rooney (starting from the end of last season to now), United haven't been quite the same. Maybe some of the magic is fading from Fergie? Things don't seem quite the same for United fans, but it may turn around for them! You never can tell, they may go and win the Champions League and show how little I know! Just a warning for anyone gloating - every club has potential to slip and slide!

  • Comment number 66.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but Rooney has contributed one goal to our season so far. We really wouldn't be loosing out on much if he did go. The way I see it he's been rubbish this season, and we would be no worse off if he went. Yes a fit and scorring Rooney is a massive plus to any team, but his attitude since the World Cup has been terrible. Our problems on the field currently sit with the defence, not Wayne Rooney.

    He has crossed Fergie and nobody is bigger than the club. I say sell him to Real, with Benzema and Diarra coming our way.

  • Comment number 67.

    To Swcolo surely you're not suggesting Tevez actually looks better now?! But seriously I don't believe Rooney leaving will be the end of United. I really don't want him to go, and the prospect of him joining City actually makes me feel suicidal, but Sir Alex will know what to do. Maybe if he did go we could buy someone like Sneijder and not waste time 'developing' talent such as Bebe! Who incidentally cost half a million less than Van Der Vaart. Ridiculous.

  • Comment number 68.

    Pfft, another mess. If ManU do lose him, the title goes to Chelsea yet again, barring a future similar incident at their club, unlikely, and ManCity going all out on a winning spree.

    Which they may do if Rooney goes there and somehow regains form.

  • Comment number 69.

    Post 49 makes a great point. Completely agree...

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    Phil, you make no mention about the role the media has played in this saga? let me remind you:
    1. The media created the over exaggerated hype
    2. The media slammed the low points during th wc
    3. The media eagerly scattered both the front, middle, back pages of newspapers, magazines, as well as internet pages & blogs, plus cable and terrestrial TV with his private life evermore than was done with his professional life just at the young age of 24-25?

    When Rooney sees the way Beckham who was haunted by the press, or should i say still being haunted by your likes, has moved to the US and have is family settled, why wouldn't he want something like that for his family. Ronaldo moved to spain cos no matter what he did here, the media had it in for him for every single so called wrong move as well, would Rooney want to commit his young fragile family to this for another 5-7 years?

    If he decides not to sign a new contract and move on a free, he is still young and would get a favorable contract, and pay considerably less tax, while his family have the type of life they desire without the press all over them at all times. You know what, he will still make it into any England team, while the EPL will have 1 less English player for marketing the league.

    If there is a better time for Rooney to move away, this is it!!! He has all the right cards now. IF ManU need his services for the future, now they are cornered, they have to make their very best of offers as a club, cos SAF as manager is only an employee as Rooney is, and has to be careful how he deals with this situation, else if he does something unfavorable, we could see the kind of demise that is being experienced at Liverpool FC beginning to take shape at Old Trafford, with the Glaziers being in debt

  • Comment number 72.

    We don`t want him at City. He should go to Juventus, that`s the graveyard for English players attracted abroad by big bucks!

  • Comment number 73.

    From the 2012/13 season UEFA plans to force clubs to balance their books.
    As a result of that, the only club that can afford Rooney is Real Madrid because of their worldwide merchandise power. Chelsea and City aren't in this category as clubs are subsidized by their owners.
    If Rooney goes to Real Madrid, SAF and MU are in great bargaining position to land Benzema or even Kaka at OT. It's a win-win situation.

    P.S It's so silly to suggest that " it's only a matter of time before he
    returns to his best ".

  • Comment number 74.

    Sometimes you can think too hard for reasons for something not to happen but in this case a move is exactly the right move for all, a debt ridden club makes £50m (£20m profit), a player leaves that club on the wain, Rooney gets to go to Spain and thus sees why is isn't world class, Madrid get another expensive drain on their resources, Rooney and his misses (or ex) get some rest bite from media stuff and England fans finally realise he may never score a goal in a WC finals. Works for me.

  • Comment number 75.

    For England to have a chance at International level and the Euros, I would love to see the likes of Rooney, Gerrard, and A.Cole playing abroad and developing further. Imagine if they could play together at the same club such as the likes of Rijkaard, Gullit, Van Basten (AC Milan) or Brehme, Matheus, and Klinsman (Inter) perhaps at Real under JM who still actually rates some English players.

  • Comment number 76.

    60. At 2:22pm on 18 Oct 2010, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    burnsy. come and join us

    606 forum is much better than these blogs

  • Comment number 77.

    To Samwise...I've actually stated quite clearly that I don't think Ferguson has done too much wrong here. What I do think is that he cannot afford to cut Rooney adrift with the same ruthlessness he did with others.

    Risks on both sides though. Will Rooney actually be better off away from Manchester United? I just don't see him playing abroad, so realistically this leaves Manchester City. And imagine how hard Ferguson would fight against that.

    If it came down to a choice between the two, who would United fans rather stay at the club? I do not think Ferguson has been guilty of mishandling Rooney here, perhaps with the exception of leaving Rooney out at Everton.

    I just think this is such a vital situation for club and player that United must make every effort to find common ground and a solution.

    And BennyHillario and joe strummer...I thought exactly the same when I saw Macheda in that picture. Maybe Rooney gave it to him.

  • Comment number 78.

    #25 Haha - no thanks!!!

  • Comment number 79.

    @ #17 Barrytrotter and others - I thought exactly the same thing: why is Macheda smoking right in front of Fergie? I knew Barthez did while he was at Old Trafford, but even he never did it in front of the boss's nose! Fair play to the man, he's probably got a bottle of grappa down by his feet.

  • Comment number 80.

    The way he is playing Rooney has picked the wrong time to ask for more money

  • Comment number 81.

    Hey Phil, 20 months is a long time in football. So I think Un**ed/Mr. SAF will sit down and talk to Wayne, and resolve his contract issue later on during the summer.

    Even though reports in media claim Rooney's interest abroad, I can't see him leaving Un**ed and deffo not going to Spain.

  • Comment number 82.

    As a neutral if a Ronaldo style big money offer came in i'd probably take it

    During the WC and this season Rooney's form has been poor, especially for someone who is supposedly not injured. He hasn't even been as good as Berbatov (who would have though we'd ever be saying that?).

    Of course it all depends on money. With enough money on offer decent replacements will be available.

    Interesting also that many comment that Torres should be dropped until he regains form but........when the same is done with an off-form Rooney the shout goes up from the media that "he simply has to be playing". Doubt that would happen if Man u had won the last few games - just goes to show that results are everything.

  • Comment number 83.

    Yes, this is the mantra which is the best we've got. NOONE is bigger than CLUB. Let him GO, if he want to do so. We have enough quality player in Javier Hernandez, Macheda, Diouf, Owen. etc...
    Rooney, he has to do something with his form, and not to speak about being Ok or being injured. We don't care you were injured or not, you were left by the Gaffer..and so on. If you get your chance to play, just show what you have. We got a good chance to go up against West Brom inside the box, but he smashed it away. Disgusting man.
    Come on United.
    I think it's down to Fergie what should United do with Mr. Rooney.
    Good luck United to the whole season .. God will help us.

  • Comment number 84.

    We should have seen this coming. Rooney improved and wants to be paid a lot of money which he does deserve no doubt. However he done the same thing at Everton, which was regarding a contract. He promised us and said if nobody wants me at this club then I will leave. then he said I stay forever. I genuinely don't want him to leave and I think none of us do but I would rather see Rooney go abroad than stay in the EPL. I also would rather see Rooney leave than Sir Alex leave as i previously read on various websites from United fans.

  • Comment number 85.

    By the way.. Macheda is chewing a GUM. I reckon he has borrowed from Fergie :)

  • Comment number 86.

    #76 Ian Holloway Is A Legend

    Thanks. Actually, I know how to get there because I had commented on it and therefore it is available via my members page.

    The point I was making is about if there must be a blog then there should be a separate link. Then, those who wish to queue 'in moderation' can do so if they chose and those who are able to think for themselves without being prompted by a blogger and without having to wait, can also do so.

  • Comment number 87.

    A few years ago, United were unchallengeable. They called the shots and if players left, they were immediately replaceable. Now they are a club labouring under hundreds of millions worth of debts. The team isn't as good as it was and, frankly, I think they are going to have to battle to even make the CL next year. Rooney will leave, probably not for as much as the money men back in the USA want. Scholes and Giggs will hang up their boots. Then who have they got? Seriously. The team does not compare well to Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal or - bias creeping in mebbe - Spurs. They need a Sheikh.

    Man U and Liverpool have been wrecked by loading debt on the club. Fans should take heed.

  • Comment number 88.

    "To Samwise...I've actually stated quite clearly that I don't think Ferguson has done too much wrong here. What I do think is that he cannot afford to cut Rooney adrift with the same ruthlessness he did with others."

    Everyone understands what you are saying Phil but most think you are wrong. Again. Rooney is just not that good. If we lose Rooney so be it. I was more gutted when we lost Ince, Kanchelskis and Ronaldo.

    The problem with a disaffected Rooney is that he not only wastes a squad place because of his shambolic performances he brings the whole team down with his sulking.

  • Comment number 89.

    If offered £50 million I would take the money , his form has been shocking and he certainly is not worth a penny more on his contract...

  • Comment number 90.

    "Maybe Rooney gave it to him."


  • Comment number 91.

    There hasn't yet been any direct quote from rooney or his advisors, so this is still all somewhat speculative, but...

    If we assume it's true and he wants out or a 50-100k a week pay rise then he is holding us to ransom. I'm with fergie on this, i have numerous other issues with him but on this matter i don't see what he is doing wrong. he's been trying to protect the player, if the injury thing was made up then it was designed to take the pressure of his bad form and rooney should have gone along with it.

    rooney, the glazers, fergies lies defending them (is he being paid to go along with them? or have they got something on him?!) several players who should be hungry but are in the rolex comfort zone, skys kick off times, glory hunting plastics who have killed off the soul of the club... i'm sick of us being screwed by everyone and everything.

  • Comment number 92.

    I don't know about Rooney but one things for sure, Macheda is pushing his luck brazenly smoking in the dug out. He's supposed to be a professional athlete, disgusting. ;)

  • Comment number 93.

    Macheda is a well known chain smoker. That doesn't look like a cigarette to me, more like one of those "pretend fag" devices that people trying to quit use.

  • Comment number 94.

    So is it a straight Rooney swap for Roque Santa Cruz or Adebayor? Of late it would be a fair trade.

  • Comment number 95.

    BennyHillario, joe strummer and Phil Mcnulty, should have gone to specsavers.

    The words "bubble" or "gum" ring any bells?

  • Comment number 96.

    >It's so silly to suggest that" it's only a matter of time before he
    returns to his best ".

    The guy won't even be 25 till the end of this month - way too early to write his career off completely!

  • Comment number 97.

    I don't know about Rooney's behaviour but I'm staggered that Macheda, a professional athlete, is brazenly smoking in the OT dug out, it's disgusting! ;)

  • Comment number 98.

    Anyone who was at OT Saturday will tell you Rooney's body language, workrate and general demenaour suggested a player who just wasnt interested. He is in a place entirely of his own making and he wont find a club anyhere else in the world who would stick by him like United has. But the minute you cross SAF ? How many times will these foolish young chavs believe their own publicity machine and assume they are bigger than the club? Who has scored least goals this season of our pool of strikers ?? A player swap for Benzema would do me fine. A bigger worry is the Ginger Prince, now if he gets crocked this season we really are stuffed....

  • Comment number 99.

    87. At 3:01pm on 18 Oct 2010, kentspur - committed to good manners wrote:

    Man U and Liverpool have been wrecked by loading debt on the club. Fans should take heed.


    What do you mean 'fans should take heed'? How is it the fans' fault? Nobody wanted the Glazers, but it's not like we had a choice.

  • Comment number 100.

    SAF already has, quite rightly, a track record of treating "superstar" players that he wants to keep quite differently from the rest of the squad (I refer to "gifted" players you cannot replace such as Cantona etc). Just like in business all customers are NOT treated equally, some are treated more equally than others, so in football all players are NOT treated equally.

    It makes a good headline, but if SAF really wants to keep Rooney, he will make up and do what he needs to do, and all this will blow over.

    I'm no Man Utd fan (Gillingham for my sins), but SAF is ultimately a pragmatist, and the most successful manager of his generation.

    If Rooney really wants to go, he will go, but SAF will make up if that's all it takes.



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