Alex Ferguson called on Manchester United fans to give their full support to his successor David Moyes. The new manager’s first task may be dealing with Wayne Rooney’s desire to leave the 20-time English soccer champion.
Ferguson confirmed that the England striker had asked for a transfer, although he said he won’t be allowed to leave. Rooney was omitted from the squad for yesterday’s 2-1 win against Swansea, which was Ferguson’s final home game before retiring after more than 26 years at United during which he’s won 38 trophies including this season’s Premier League.
“I don’t think Wayne was keen to play, simply because he has asked for a transfer,” Ferguson told Sky Sports. “I think he wants to think it through in his mind. That’s a good idea. We’re not going to let him go. Maybe he is a bit frustrated, he has been taken off once or twice in the past couple of weeks.”
Rooney watched yesterday’s game from an executive box and was jeered and whistled by some supporters at Old Trafford as he collected his Premier League winner’s medal following the match.
Rooney, 27, joined United in 2004 from Everton, where he was managed by Moyes. Reports of Rooney’s transfer request surfaced before Ferguson announced his retirement last week. The player, who’s won five league titles and the Champions League with United, has been linked with clubs including Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain in newspaper reports.
Rooney, who is among English soccer’s best-paid players on a weekly wage of 250,000 pounds ($384,000) according to the Daily Mail, has previously been discontented at United. In 2010, he said he was concerned about the club’s ambitions before signing a five-year contract.
This season he’s often been used in midfield and is no longer a guaranteed starter as Robin van Persie, a 24 million-pound signing from Arsenal in August, scored 25 league goals to help the team wrest back the league title from Manchester City. Rooney was on the substitutes’ bench when United played Real Madrid in a round-of-16 Champions League game at Old Trafford.
Former United defender Gary Neville, now a Sky Sports analyst, said Rooney should stay.
“He has been a bit vacant on the pitch,” Neville said. “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. It’s not a bed of roses, he’ll be going through a difficult moment.”
Ferguson called on United fans to give their full backing to Moyes before the team was presented with the league trophy.
“I would like to remind you this club stood by me in bad times, the players and the staff,” he said. “Your job now is to stand by the new manager.”
Ferguson said he’d continue to be a presence at United, where his last game in charge is at West Brom next weekend.
“I will be able to go along and watch them rather than suffer with them,” he said. “Those last-minute goals, the comebacks and even the defeats are part of this great football club. It has been an unbelievable experience.”
As well as thanking everyone at the club, Ferguson paid tribute to Paul Scholes, who was playing his farewell home game yesterday. The 38-year-old midfielder initially quit in 2011 before making a comeback. He’s made more than 700 appearances for United over 19 years.
“I wish the players every success,” Ferguson said as he addressed the stadium from the Old Trafford pitch. “I know how good you are. You know the jersey you are wearing and you know what it means to everyone here. Do not let yourselves down.”
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