Reds hoping for re-focused Rooney
Manchester United are convinced Wayne Rooney will return from the United States next weekend with his focus back on football.
Sir Alex Ferguson has opted to pack the England star off to Nike's impressive HQ near Beaverton for a week's conditioning work. Yet Ferguson's assistant Mike Phelan has conceded there is also a mental aspect to the lengthy trip, aimed at getting Rooney's mind back on his day job after a turbulent few weeks, on and off the pitch.
"He has suffered for numerous reasons since he came back from the World Cup," said Phelan. "His condition is not too bad. We have looked at him in great detail and he is on a par with other players at this club. But he just needs that bit extra. We have to get him re-focused and get him back on the job in hand which is to play for Manchester United."
It is the second time this season the Manchester United boss has broken with tradition to protect his star striker, having kept him out of the September meeting with former club Everton to save the 25-year-old from inevitable abuse about his personal life.
Ferguson must hope this latest intervention triggers a better reaction than the first as Rooney's omission at Goodison Park was widely interpreted as the moment when the England forward began to get cold feet about committing his future to the Old Trafford cause.
All that disenchantment exploded over an amazing 11-day period last month, which started immediately after England's Euro 2012 draw with Montenegro when Rooney openly questioned his manager's assertion that he was suffering from an ankle injury.
The ill-feeling was eventually calmed and a new five-year contract signed. But the negativity surrounding Rooney has proved harder to remove.
Wife Coleen was critical of some reporters who headed out to Dubai where Rooney and his wife enjoyed a luxurious break last week, whilst this week the family have been condemned for noise that was made at a party they held at their home in Prestbury.
It is with this in mind that United have sent Rooney to the USA as much as the medical facilities he will have access to because the Nike World Campus in Oregon, as plush as it may be, is not that much better than the state-of-the-art equipment available at United's own training HQ at Carrington.
"We have the facilities, we just thought it might be in the interests of Wayne and the club, for him to have a change of scenery for a little while," said Phelan. "We are looking at the overall picture and he has had a lot of attention lately. We are going to try and create an overall environment for him to be fit in a short space of time."