Manchester United, who are baffled by how Wayne Rooney could have interpreted recent comments by manager David Moyes as a slight upon him, will seek talks with the player’s agent Paul Stretford in an attempt to discover if the complaint is a mere fabrication, designed to manufacture his departure from Old Trafford.
The sources close to the player who two days ago wanted to convey that he was “angry and confused” have gone to ground. But the club’s chief executive, Ed Woodward, has returned three days early from United’s tour base in Sydney and is ready to stage discussions within 48 hours with Rooney and Stretford.
Woodward is expected to want to establish what Rooney actually thinks. So far, the player has not had the conviction to express his views or to allow his agent to – only permitting his emotions to be communicated through third parties.
United hoped that Rooney’s presence with the squad in South-east Asia and Australia would have allowed them to impress upon him the vision of him becoming a first-choice No 10, working in tandem with Robin van Persie.
With Woodward in transit for part of yesterday, there appeared to be no new transfer market developments for United. They may attempt to buy Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale, in a deal which would be worth £60m, though the risks attached to doing business with Spurs are well known at the top of the club.
United discovered how challenging dealing with the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, can be when they chased the signature of Dimitar Berbatov until the last hours of the transfer window in 2008 – and even then only signed him after a threatened gazumping by Manchester City at the 11th hour.
United know that Levy’s determination to drive a deal into the last days of a transfer window, to exact the full financial advantage from a sale, could have them pursuing Bale all summer, only to be left with a day or two to seek an alternative if such a deal falls down.
Moyes refused to discuss Rooney further at a press conference yesterday, during which he declared that replacing Sir Alex Ferguson was “the hardest thing to do.”
Moyes said that anybody managing Manchester United would have a challenge, “even Sir Alex. But for somebody following Sir Alex, that’s the hardest thing to do. What he did will never be repeated. For anybody to do 25 years and for the trophies and the championships he has won, it would be incredible for anybody else to achieve that.”