David Moyes stamped his authority on his role as Manchester United boss by categorically saying that Wayne Rooney was not for sale.
The 27-year-old has been subject to intense speculation as to whether he would be at Old Trafford next year following Sir Alex Ferguson’s announcement that he handed in a second transfer request.
But in his first press conference as United manager, Moyes was clear in his intention of keeping Rooney at United next season after having a few meetings with the player.
“Wayne Rooney is not for sale,” he announced.
“He’s a Manchester United player and will remain a Manchester United player. Wayne won’t be sold by Manchester United”
It was a statement of intent by Moyes to exert his power over Rooney and is a brash style similar to a certain other Scot. United is a massive club and it is important that the manager is indisputably in control.
The question marks over Rooney’s future have been a constant shadow over Moyes’ arrival at the club and this was an issue that was top of his and the media’s agenda, given that it was the main focus of a lot of the conference.
“We have spoken several times and as far as I’ve seen it, whatever happened before has gone.” David Moyes
“I’ve been fortunate, I’ve known Wayne since he was 16,” Moyes continued.
“I’ve had several meetings with Wayne. He’s training brilliantly well, he’s come back in good shape and I’m really looking forward to working with him.
“We have spoken several times and as far as I’ve seen it, whatever happened before has gone.
“We are working together now. I see a glint in his eye, he looks happy and if he is saying I’m going to knuckle down and get it right – let’s not kid ourselves. He’s a terrific player and let me reiterate, he’s not for sale.”
Moyes would not be drawn on whether or not Rooney had committed his future to the club or if he had indeed handed in a transfer request.
Instead, the 50-year-old placed emphasis on the fact that Rooney is just 52 goals shy of Bobby Charlton’s all-time goal scoring record for the club. The fact that Moyes reiterated that fact on more than one occasion suggests he has some way to go to convince Rooney to stay at the club.
“Wayne has trained really well and is in the best shape for the last five years.” Nemanja Vidic
He continued: “If I was Wayne, you look at the legends that have played for this club. I could see George Best, Bobby Charlton, Roy Keane and I thought Wayne isn’t too far away from that.
“It’s not too difficult to get the goals and he could be near to that.”
And when asked by journalists what information he could divulge about how the situation arose, Moyes refused to be drawn into Ferguson’s dealings with Rooney.
“I was not privy to it [their meetings],” he insisted.
“I don’t know what those two gentlemen said. That conversation was private and as far as I am concerned I’m looking forward to working with Wayne and getting him to the levels I know he’s capable of.
“I can tell you categorically that Wayne Rooney is training very well.”
It was a clear indication by the Scot that whatever has happened is, to his eyes at least, water under the bridge. He is desperate to hold onto Rooney – an issue which he views as imperative to his reign at Old Trafford, both in the long and short-term.
Whether United fans will remain loyal to Rooney knowing that he has handed in two transfer requests is to be seen but the club, manager and players have expressed a strong desire for Rooney to stay.