'Unfit' Wayne Rooney is fighting for Manchester United career amid tensions with Sir Alex Ferguson

Doubts over striker's attitude to training frustrate Ferguson and may force club to cash in this summer

Wayne Rooney is fighting to save his Manchester United career, with his manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s profound doubts about the player’s approach to his work now a cause of daily tension between the two.

Ferguson’s decision to exclude Rooney from the starting line-up for Tuesday’s Champions League tie against Real Madrid reflected the manager’s view that the 27-year-old is not dealing with the weight and fitness issues which he believes have been a problem since the start of the season.

United, against whom Uefa have opened disciplinary proceedings over Nani’s red card – he is likely to be handed a one-game ban – and the non-fulfilment of post-match media obligations following the 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid, face an imminent decision about Rooney’s future this summer, when the forward enters the final two years of his contract.

The club cannot allow him to drift into the final year of the £250,000-a-week deal he struck after threatening to leave three years ago. Unless Rooney can improve enough to repair his relationship with Ferguson, the United manager will consider selling him if the club receives an offer above £20m.

The strains in the relationship between Ferguson and Rooney have been evident at the Carrington training ground for some months, with the manager’s concerns about the player’s fitness rooted in the Scot’s decision to say that he “wasn’t as fit” as the other players when returning pre-season.

Ferguson said that Rooney’s gashed thigh, sustained against Fulham on 25 August was a “blessing” as it gave him the opportunity to spend time in the gym.

Rooney, for his own part, feels that he has done what he needs to do to be fit and Ferguson’s disinclination to praise him richly when he has made a contribution to a game – his two assists and goal in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Norwich City being one example – has not gone unnoticed. There is a palpable daily sense of the tension between the pair of them at Carrington, where Ferguson’s impatience shows.

Rooney, who said in an interview published this week that he felt "fresh and ready" for the remainder of the season, might also argue that he has sacrificed himself for the good of the team by operating as a utility player in a number of positions this season, as Robin van Persie has taken the striker's role in which Rooney scored 35 goals last season.

There is a view that Rooney would be well served by demanding the dedicated role which would bring him goals and greater recognition. His performance in the first match with Madrid was widely criticised, for example, when the striker covered much ground undertaking defensive duties.

It is known that Paris Saint-Germain will be seeking a striker to operate with Zlatan Ibahimovich next season, though whether Rooney might be that target remains unclear. The Qatari-backed club clearly have the money to buy and pay him. Manchester City may also renew their interest in the player, whom they tried to buy in October 2010, forcing United to offer him a lucrative deal to stay.

It does not appear that Ferguson holds any grudges over the way that Rooney publicly questioned the club's ability to sign world-class players back in 2010, though having subsequently sanctioned the deal which smashed United's pay structure, he will expect more dedication from Rooney than most.

Uefa is likely to impose an automatic one-game ban on Nani for his red card, when the body's Control and Disciplinary Committee meets on 21 March. United may submit their comments about the challenge to enhance the prospect of the ban not being increased.

Rio Ferdinand could also face action over his sarcastic applause directed at Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir, if Cakir includes it in his report, the contents of which were still not known tonight. Uefa has said it is happy with the performance of Cakir who, like other Champions League referees, was under no instructions to come down hard on fouls like Nani's.

United are also likely to be fined for failing to make Ferguson and at least two players available in tunnel “flash positions” after the game.

News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all