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.

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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

Berlusconi's world of sleaze

The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

Could gaming arcades be revived?

The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

Heard the one about menstruation?

Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage