MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to face questions about Wayne Rooney and his side’s controversial Champions League exit as he meets the media this morning.
Ferguson has not given his reaction to events on Tuesday night at Old Trafford, when ten-man United were beaten by Real Madrid and star striker Rooney was only among the substitutes.
The Scot did not fulfil post-match media obligations – something for which he faces a UEFA charge – with assistant Mike Phelan saying he was too “distraught” to speak.
His thoughts will now be keenly sought as he hosts a regular press conference to preview this weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final meeting with Chelsea.
Attention in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s game centred on the contentious sending-off of United winger Nani, an incident which changed the nature of the game as Real came from behind to win.
Since then the focus has shifted to Rooney, with his surprise omission sparking intense speculation he could leave the club this summer.
Many newspapers have carried stories claiming that, after more than eight years of often brilliant service for United, the 27-year-old England forward could move on. Rooney’s former England manager Steve McClaren, who worked as Ferguson’s assistant from 1999-2001, is shocked by these suggestions and believes too much is being read into the selection.
McClaren, national boss between 2006 and 2007, said: “It is premature and obviously stirred up by the media. Everyone is looking for controversy and some like to find it in the selection Sir Alex made.
“I wouldn’t say he (Rooney) was dropped. I would say this was well planned, weeks and weeks ahead. Wayne Rooney would have known this decision was coming.
“He will have explained the reasons to Wayne Rooney why he was not playing, when he will be playing next and what he expects in the next game.
“That is what he has done in the past, that is what I expect he has done on this occasion. That is how he keeps the squad happy and everybody on board.
“Wayne Rooney will be a big player for Manchester United to come.”
McClaren continued: “He [Ferguson] has got many good players and he picks a team on form, fitness and on doing the job on the night. On the night Wayne Rooney would have sat on the bench and had no complaints about the tactics.
“He won’t be happy and Sir Alex does not expect his players to be happy about not playing.
“What he is looking for, for the team, is a reaction from Wayne Rooney, and no better place to start than at Old Trafford on Sunday.”