Ferguson: I won't allow Rooney to ruin season

Crisis talks today over striker's future as manager vows to put issue 'to bed'

Sir Alex Ferguson and his chief executive David Gill will stage emergency talks this morning to find a way of drawing a line under the deepening Wayne Rooney crisis which the manager now believes is threatening to derail Manchester United's season.

Gill spoke at length to the United owners the Glazer family last night and he and Ferguson will meet at 10am to decide whether to put Rooney on the transfer list and get him out of the club by January. Ferguson ridiculed a suggestion after the 1-0 Champions League win against Bursaspor last night that Rooney would be suspended for casting aspersions on the quality of his squad in a statement issued two hours before the match. But the manager and the club are incensed by Rooney's declaration that he doubts "the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world" and "win trophies."

Ferguson said the issue would be "put to bed" today. "I've only won 27 trophies," was his wry riposte to Rooney's challenge and for the second time in as many days Ferguson also launched a passionate defence of his decision to invest in a new generation of young players, rather than buy in more experienced names.

Rooney's 230-word statement, which at around 5.40pm confirmed his desire to leave United, was centred on the most credible argument available to him: that the club's ambitions do not match his own. The 24-year-old directly questioned the accuracy – and honesty - of Ferguson's account on Tuesday of events leading to his anticipated departure. While the United manager said he was "dumbfounded" to find that Rooney's mind was set on 14 August, when Gill was informed of the decision by the player's agent Paul Stretford, the player's account of a meeting with Gill last week suggests he has given them much longer to convince him of their ambition. He also declared there were have been "a number of meetings" since August, when he has pressed the same point.

Rooney's statement alludes to his "recent difficulties" with Ferguson – also contradicting the manager's claim that there had been no personal problems between them. By subtly linking Ferguson's inevitable retirement to his concerns about the future, he reinforces his own case. "For Manchester United's sake I wish he could go on forever because he's a one-off and a genius."

But Ferguson ratcheted up this extraordinary public battle, with a powerful and idiosyncratic late night explanation of why Rooney should have invested faith in his proven ability to spot talent and why the grass might not be as green as the striker really thinks it will be at Manchester City. "Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it's a better cow than the one you've got in the field," Ferguson said. "It never really works out that way. It's probably the same cow and its not as good as your own cow. Some players like to think there's a better world somewhere else. It never really works."

As metaphors goes, it was about as memorable as Eric Cantona's "seagulls follow the trawler" story, though and it was accompanied by Ferguson's revelation that a lack of belief in his judgement in the transfer market had once persuaded a player – possibly Roy Keane – to leave because he thought Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were not good enough. "He was not prepared to wait until they were good enough," Ferguson said.

"But that's the trouble with potential," he went on. "People don't identify potential. They're very poor at it. I've identified it all my life – the potential in young people. I know potential. I know how to develop and have faith in young people, who surprise you when given the opportunity and that's what this club is all about. When you see Manchester United at the moment with all these young players, 14 under 22, you can't see Manchester United three years ahead."

The manager reiterated, with more detail than before, that he had attempted to make a marquee signing – believed to be Valencia's David Villa – this summer though the player had not wanted to play in England. He concluded that there was no problem with United. "There's not a thing wrong with Manchester United – not a thing wrong with it. So we will carry on, goodnight." But Rooney remains unconvinced by the ambition of a club who have spent less than £50m in total since the £80m departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid last year.

Rooney's alluded to the "ability" of United to spend, rather than an unwillingness, a suggestion that their totemic player shares the view – vehemently denied by United – that the club's financial position has left them floundering. The Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson's indifferent response last night to suggestions that Ferguson may come calling for Fernando Torres –"these things happen. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," he said – will reinforce United's belief that their initial inquiries about the play may bear fruit.

Asked about the perceived shift in the balance of power between the two Manchester clubs, City manager Roberto Mancini said: "Life changes. I don't think one club can win [dominate] for 100 or 15 years. It is impossible for a club to continue that. It was the same situation a few years ago at Chelsea , and maybe 10-15 years ago at United. All clubs who can spend money get this criticism."

'All about winning trophies': Wayne Rooney's statement in full

I met with David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad.

I then told him that I would not be signing a new contract.

I was interested to hear what Sir Alex had to say yesterday and surprised by some of it.

It is absolutely true, as he said, that my agent and I have had a number of meetings with the club about a new contract. During those meetings in August I asked for assurances about the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world.

I have never had anything but complete respect for MUFC. How could I not have done, given its fantastic history and especially the last six years in which I have been lucky to play a part?

For me it's all about winning trophies – as the club has always done under Sir Alex. Because of that I think the questions I was asking were justified.

Despite recent difficulties, I know I will always owe Sir Alex Ferguson a huge debt. He is a great manager and mentor, who has helped and supported me from the day he signed me from Everton when I was only 18.

For Manchester United's sake I wish he could go on for ever because he's a one-off and a genius.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss