IT PAYS to have a Scot as manager of Manchester United. As was the case on innumerable occasions under Sir Alex Ferguson, Scotland continued to feel the benefit of having a native in charge at Old Trafford as David Moyes yesterday admitted he has sent an unfit Wayne Rooney to join up with the England camp ahead of the midweek friendly with Scotland.
There was an element of japery in his answer to a question about Rooney, who Moyes claimed was not fit to take part in yesterday’s victory in the Community Shield against Wigan Athletic and yet would be available for Wednesday’s clash at Wembley. However, the manager was deadly serious when he insisted that the player was not for sale, despite the continued efforts of Chelsea to prise him from Old Trafford and the desire of the player himself to leave Manchester United after nearly a decade at the club.
Moyes denied that he had fallen out with the player and that he had sent him to train with the reserves. “It’s a big international game for Scotland!” Moyes replied, when a reporter questioned why Rooney was available to play in a “big international game” for England but not Manchester United. “You don’t think I am going to send England a fit player do you?”
“I spoke to Roy [Hodgson] for about two hours at different times,” added Moyes. “Roy knows the situation. Wayne has trained and some of you might not like hearing this, but I did not fall out with Wayne. Some of you wrote untruths. Wayne trained with the reserves at his asking. He couldn’t have contact because of a shoulder injury.
“And, in case you don’t know, we used him as a floating player which means he does not play for either team, he plays between them both. Just in case you are unclear about what I mean by that – he played as a floating player so he would not get injured. Anyone who wrote anything else was misleading their readers.”
Moyes added: “I want him to join up [with the England squad]. He trained with us yesterday. He is not ready. You will see that in the game [v Scotland]. He will probably play a chunk of the game. But he has not had football. He played a chunk of a game against Real Betis where he hurt a shoulder. Apart from that he has had no match action. You would not expect someone in that condition to play for a long period.”
Moyes restated the club’s position that Rooney was not for sale, yet the question continues to dog the early months of his reign. Still, a victory at Wembley to give Moyes a first trophy as manager is a good way to start, even if, as he acknowledged, this was not one he could take credit for.
“I class that as another piece of silverware for Sir Alex really,” said Moyes. “It was his team that won the Premier League last year. I see today as for Sir Alex really. But the ones going forward will be down to me.”