Wayne Rooney has revealed for the first time that his dissatisfaction at Manchester United last season began when Sir Alex Ferguson played him out of position in midfield, an issue that he said has now been remedied by the arrival of David Moyes.
Rooney did not mention Ferguson once by name over a 20-minute briefing with national newspapers at St George's Park, but he left no doubt that it was the former United manager's occasional deployment of him in midfield that had contributed to his form.
Rooney said: "Everyone at the club knew that [in attack] is where I wanted to play and I think that's why I was disappointed because I got told to play in midfield and I didn't want to. But I'd always go in and try to help the team, so I think there had to come a point where for my own career I had to be a bit selfish, really."
Rooney did not elaborate on what form that selfishness took, but it would seem that was one of the reasons that he was prepared to leave United in the summer. With Ferguson gone, he was told by Moyes and chief executive Ed Woodward that United were not prepared to sell to Chelsea, who made three bids for the player before it became clear that they would not be accepted under any circumstances.
Rooney implied that he had known for some time United would not countenance his sale to Chelsea and had come to accept it. Nevertheless, he would not say definitively that his long-term future lies with United. With less than two years remaining on his contract, he is in his 10th season at Old Trafford and turns 28 later this month.
"I'm not going to go around saying I wanted to stay or I wanted to leave [United]," Rooney said. "I'll concentrate on my football and see what happens after that."
As for the prospect of a new contract, he left the door open to that possibility. "You can see I'm playing and I'm happy in my football. I'll have more discussions with the club and we'll see what happens from there."
Although Rooney was not played in midfield extensively, there appeared to be no doubt in his mind this week that playing there had had a direct impact on his form. He was deployed on the right of the three behind Robin van Persie in United's Champions League last 16 tie away to Real Madrid on 13 February, and famously left out for the home return. Away at Stoke on 14 April he was played as a central midfielder and three days later, away to West Ham, he found himself deployed on the left of the attacking three. He was also regularly substituted.
Asked about the difference in his form from last season and now, Rooney said: "Sometimes it happens. I didn't feel I got a consistent run of games up front. I actually felt when I played midfield I did OK but I didn't want to play there. I've had no problem in the past playing out of position but I felt I deserved the right to play in my position and that wasn't happening.
"I think naturally I was a bit disappointed and maybe that affected some of the games I played. I can go and play in midfield. Maybe when I'm a bit older, losing my legs a bit, I can go back there. I don't mean I only want to play centre-forward but one of two [in attack]."
He added: "David Moyes has come in and he's playing me up front and I'm enjoying it. I'm not saying I wouldn't [drop back to midfield], for instance if it was the last 10 or 15 minutes of a game and we were holding on a bit. [If] I got asked to drop to the left or drop in to help see the game out. I'm not saying I'd throw my arms up and not do it."