Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Would Fergie Do the Unthinkable and Sell Rooney? ; United Manager Has Previous for Moving on His Biggest Stars - but Could Off-Loading the Reds' England Talisman Be Good Business?

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Would Fergie Do the Unthinkable and Sell Rooney? ; United Manager Has Previous for Moving on His Biggest Stars - but Could Off-Loading the Reds' England Talisman Be Good Business?

Article excerpt

THE idea that Wayne Rooney could be allowed to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season is not as fanciful as at first it may seem.

Not for a manager with a track record of showing the door to even the biggest of stars.

If David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo could depart while still in their 20s, why not Rooney? Over more than 26 years in charge at United, Sir Alex Ferguson's ruthless ability to evolve his squad has been fundamental to his success. Mainstays like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have been the exception, rather than the norm during his reign.

Should Rooney head for the exit - with Paris St Germain, according to the Times no less, all too willing to welcome him to the French capital - he would join a glittering cast of United heroes who have come and gone under Ferguson.

As well as Beckham and Ronaldo, the names of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jaap Stam, Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Andrei Kanchelskis can all be added to a stellar array of talent to leave before reaching their sell-by date.

Before them were fan favourites Paul McGrath, Norman Whiteside and Gordon Strachan as Ferguson stamped his authority on the club in his early days after moving south of the border from Aberdeen.

The reasons for each of those departures are varied. But be it age, discipline, profile, autobiographical indiscretions or simply a desire on the player's part to move on, the consistent thread has been Ferguson's willingness to wave goodbye to even the most famous of names when he believes the time is right.

That was not the case in the autumn of 2010 when Rooney came so close to ending his time at United in acrimony.

With City waiting with arms opened wide, the England striker, concerned about United's ability to compete for major honours, looked certain to be on his way out of the club.

Inspired On that occasion Ferguson pulled a masterstroke - taking the unusual step of revealing his hurt. It turned the focus squarely on Rooney and effectively scared him into a rethink. It was an inspired act from a desperate manager who simply could not afford to let his talisman go.

Certainly not to a City side awash with Abu Dhabi oil - and not so soon after Carlos Tevez had already swapped red for blue and Ronaldo departed for Madrid.

United's reputation was on the brink. From super power to selling club.

It was a pivotal moment in their modern history.

But the landscape for club and player has changed over the last two years plus.

While Rooney was outstanding last season, he admits Robin van Persie is now United's talisman after the Dutchman's stunning impact since his move from Arsenal.

Now 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League there is clear evidence that Ferguson is moulding what will be his last great side at United.

His interest in Robert Lewandowski from Borussia Dortmund is real, with a move for the Polish striker expected at the end of the season. …

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