United won’t sell Rooney; striker silent on future
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — After categorically stating that Wayne Rooney is not for sale, new Manchester United manager David Moyes was less forthcoming Friday about what the striker plans to do ahead of the upcoming Premier League season.
Rooney’s future has been mired in uncertainty since he told Alex Ferguson that he wanted a transfer before the manager’s surprise retirement in May.
The 27-year-old Rooney had grown frustrated at being dropped and substituted in key matches as Robin van Persie emerged as United’s leading striker on the charge to a record-extending 20th English title.
But with two years remaining on Rooney’s contract, United doesn’t appear willing to allow the Moyes era to begin with a leading player joining a rival club.
“Wayne is not for sale,” Moyes said at his first news conference since replacing Ferguson. “He’s a Manchester United player and he will remain a Manchester United player.”
When asked if Rooney had told him categorically that he no longer wanted to leave, Moyes responded evasively: “I can tell you categorically Wayne Rooney is training fantastically well in the last two days, that’s all I can categorically tell you.”
Rooney is yet to publicly discuss his push to leave United, which was first revealed by Ferguson, opting not to address the issue among his many tweets over the summer or when interviewed during United’s Premier League trophy parade in May.
Moyes was Everton manager when Rooney was reluctantly sold to Ferguson’s United in 2004.
The pair appear to be back on good terms despite Moyes launching successful legal action against Rooney about allegations in the player’s autobiography about his Everton departure.
“I have known Wayne since he was 16 and some of you were probably at my early press conferences at Everton — it’s a little bit of deja vu actually, it’s a similar sort of feeling,” Moyes said from Old Trafford. “But I’ve had several meetings with Wayne. He is training brilliantly well, he’s come back in good shape (from the summer break) and I really look forward to working with him.”
It’s less certain how willing the United fans would be to embrace Rooney again.
Rooney asked to quit United in 2010, but backed down after negotiating a new and improved contract with the club.
Moyes appears willing to disregard what Rooney told Ferguson before the 71-year-old Scotsman retired after more than 26 years in charge at United.
“We have spoken several times and as far as I see it, whatever happened before with Wayne has gone — we are working together,” Moyes said. “I see a glint in his eye. He looks happy. I think he looks as if he’s saying, ‘I’m going to knuckle down and get myself right.’”
Moyes repeatedly highlighted how Rooney, with 197 goals for United, can catch Bobby Charlton’s club-record 249 and Denis Law’s 237. The first target is reaching Jack Rowley’s 211 goals.
“It isn’t too difficult to get the goals, and if he can do that he will be seen in the same light as many of those people,” Moyes said. “I’m more than happy to work with him and make sure we get success. We are working and we are trying everything we can to make sure we can to get Wayne to the level we think (he can reach).”
Rooney will also be keen to retain his starting spot in the England team as World Cup qualifying enters its final stages.
“It’s for everyone’s benefit we will try to get him to the (good) condition and that state where he’s much more like the Wayne Rooney we all know and I am looking forward to making that happen,” Moyes said.
Captain Nemanja Vidic remains in the dark about Rooney’s grievances.
“I haven’t really talked to him about him or his future, but what I can see is that Wayne trained really well in the last few days,” Vidic said alongside Moyes.
“He is in very good shape, I think he’s the best shape in the last five years and I am looking forward to seeing him play for the club and doing his best.”
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris