OUTGOING Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson insists Wayne Rooney won’t be sold, even though the striker handed in a transfer request after becoming “frustrated” at being substituted in recent matches.
The England striker was left out of United’s squad for Ferguson’s final home match in charge, against Swansea in the Barclays Premier League yesterday afternoon, and watched the game from an executive box with his family.
“I don’t think Wayne Rooney was keen to play, simply because he’s asked for a transfer,” Ferguson said after the match. “He wants to think it through in his mind, which is a good idea.
“We are not going to let him go but he is a little bit frustrated at being taken off once or twice in the last few weeks.”
Rooney came onto the pitch after the final whistle, shook Ferguson’s hands and joined in the celebrations during the presentation ceremony for United’s 13th Premier League title.
With Ferguson retiring at the end of the season, Rooney’s future is likely to be decided by new manager David Moyes, who will leave Everton to take charge of United on 1 July.
Moyes sold Rooney to United in 2004 and then launched successful legal action against him over allegations in the striker’s autobiography that the Scot leaked details of a private conversation to the media about the factors behind the move from Everton.
It’s the second time Rooney has asked to quit United, having backed down from a transfer request in 2010 after negotiating a new and improved contract with the club.
“Sometimes as a player you make bad choices and bad decisions, and I think that’s what happened,” Rooney said last year.
Rooney, who has two years left on his contract, is no longer first choice at United, slipping behind Robin van Persie in the list of strikers at Old Trafford this season and often playing in central midfield or having to settle for a place among the substitutes.
He was dropped for the second leg of the Champions League last-16 match against Real Madrid – arguably United’s biggest game of the season.
Former United defender Gary Neville, working yesterday as a television pundit with Sky Sports but who, later this month, will become Rooney’s coach for England friendlies against Republic of Ireland and Brazil, said the striker needed to sort himself out.
“Wayne is an emotional lad and you can see in the last couple of months he hasn’t quite been himself,” said Neville.
“Wayne Rooney wears his heart on his sleeve. He fights every refereeing decision. But he has been a bit vacant on the pitch. You can see something is wrong. But there is nowhere to go from here. I have seen players join Real Madrid and other great clubs in Europe. But they always want to come back.
“If you play for this club for 20 years it is not a bed of roses. You struggle mentally at times. He will be going through a difficult moment. But in a couple of weeks he will be coming away with England. Then he needs to have the summer off and hopefully get his head back to being a Manchester United player.”
Neville feels Rooney’s family, and agent Paul Stretford, have a crucial role to play over the next few weeks.
“This is a good kid,” added Neville. “He needs to surround himself with his family and his players. The ones who have been here for a long time will bring him round.
“He is not someone who will make rash decisions but he needs people around him to give him good advice. He has an agent and friends. They need to be giving him the right advice.
“This is the only club he should be playing at.”