Glenn Moore: Despite Alex Ferguson's assertions, Wayne Rooney's future at Manchester United remains far from certain

The Manchester United manager says Rooney will not be sold

Sir Alex Ferguson's response to the media furore that has followed Wayne Rooney's omission from Tuesday's Champions League tie with Real Madrid lacked only a photo of the happy couple sharing a cosy moment together. In every other respect it could have been a Tory cabinet minister insisting his marriage was rock-solid despite being caught inflagrante with a junior researcher.

"To suggest we don't talk to each other is nonsense", said the Manchester United manager before promising he and Rooney would be together at Old Trafford next year. As with the cabinet minister's vow, this is a genuine hope. Rooney remains a player of value to United, when on form his goals, his creativity, and his versatility are an asset to any club. But there have been indications for a long time now that Rooney's approach to his career at times lacks the professionalism Ferguson demands of his players.

There was his omission at Christmas 2011, after which well-sourced reports suggested Ferguson was prepared to let him go, and there have been tart observations from  Ferguson's about Rooney's lack of fitness this season. Even today he added that Rooney was the 'type' who 'needed' to play.

Wednesday night may well have been another warning shot. A further reminder to Rooney that he does not have an automatic right to a starting place and he needs to dedicate himself to United  in the way Ryan Giggs has - and Ferguson himself does. 

Ferguson said his team selection was purely tactical, that Danny Welbeck was better-suited to subduing Xabi Alonso. Welbeck played well, and United, until Nani's dismissal, were in command, but Rooney could have done the same task. Rooney has the tactical awareness to play a stifling role as well as an attacking one and one of his qualities is his preparedness to do a job even when it involves sacrificing himself for the team.

That is on the pitch. The question Ferguson appears to be asking is whether Rooney, 27, is prepared to make the same sacrifices off the pitch. Lee Sharpe recalled Ferguson once told him he could do his partying when he was 40 but Sharpe had thought, 'I don't want to wait until I'm 40, I want to do it now, while I'm still young'. It is a perfectly understandable response, even more so when a player is already financially made for life and has won most of the prizes there to be won. Rooney is not the party animal Sharpe was, but neither is he as dedicated to his profession as the Neville brothers - not many players are.  

Rooney's talent gives him some leeway, that much is clear from Ferguson's olive branch yesterday, but the team comes before everything for Ferguson. Between now and the start of next season, when negotiations should be underway for his contract renewal, Rooney needs to convince Ferguson he feels the same.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

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
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas