Belfast Telegraph

Former Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan urges Wayne Rooney to stay at Old Trafford as Jose Mourinho's Chelsea prepare £20m bid

By Ian Herbert

Manchester United manager David Moyes will want to talk to Wayne Rooney without any of the player’s entourage around as he tries to persuade him that his future lies at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant Mike Phelan has said.

There is a feeling at the highest level of Old Trafford that senior players have a vital role to play in winning Rooney over to the argument that he will not find a better environment to flourish than United. Phelan has told BBC Radio Manchester Red Wednesday’s programme that Moyes and his chief executive Ed Woodward will initially want to see Rooney without the player’s representatives. “I think he would want to talk to Wayne Rooney and just Wayne Rooney the football player,” Phelan said. “The rest of it is part of Wayne’s backroom team, as such.” A meeting has been convened between Moyes, Woodward, Rooney and his agent Paul Stretford, which is likely to take place tomorrow.

Moyes is likely to impress on Rooney that by staying at Old Trafford he can become an all-time legend and the club's top goalscorer, while at any other club he will be starting again with all the uncertainties that entails. All that is set against the allure that Chelsea and Jose Mourinho hold for him. The Blues are prepared to offer £20m for the English striker according to a report today in The Telegraph.

Rooney is currently only 52 goals behind Sir Bobby Charlton on the all-time United goalscorers’ chart. Going elsewhere may be more lucrative for him and will certainly be so for his representatives but Rooney is unlikely to establish the same status in another place.

“Wayne has proved he is a Manchester United [quality] player,” Phelan said. “He is good enough to play at the level [he has reached.] Why would you want to jeopardise what you’ve got? An exciting future might be in front of you. He is already at a top, top club. There isn’t a lot for him to go out and grasp that he hasn’t already got.”    

Also weighing in United’s favour is the fact that Rooney’s family are settled in the north west and his wife, Coleen, is understood to favour being close to her family. But there is not an abundance of senior players left with whom Rooney gets on to make the arguments to stay. Ryan Giggs is more likely to influence him than Rio Ferdinand.

United are in no doubt that the reaction of the club’s fans to Rooney is something that weighs on the player’s mind, after his conversation two months ago with Ferguson which the former manager characterised as Rooney putting in a transfer request. If Rooney can be persuaded to consider staying, public assertions are expected from Moyes and Woodward smoothing over Ferguson’s suggestions, when omitting Rooney from his own last home game as manager, that Rooney had demanded a transfer.

Phelan told BBC Radio Five Live that it was difficult to predict the fans’ reaction, which Rooney may first experience in Rio Ferdinan’s testimonial game against Sevilla on Friday August 9.  A second transfer request, following Rooney’s initial request in October 2010, is a test of fans’s support. "I think that is a difficult one,” Phelan said. “I think you can put your first one down to inexperience maybe but the second one is putting yourself right out there and somewhere along the line there will be , I think some words said, there will be some meetings, and they will see whether it's still alive and worth going for or they will call it, call time on it."

Phelan’s full and frank interview with the two BBC radio stations saw him answer every question except one relating to whether there were plans to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back. Had Ferguson left “a deal on the table,” Phelan was asked, to which he laughed. “No comment,” he replied.

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