Rooney must play by Ferguson rule-book to secure his Man Utd future

Following an alleged bust-up between Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and striker Wayne Rooney, a joint statement from club and player dismissed a newspaper report claiming that Rooney is to be forced out of the club. While Rooney added via Twitter that there is no on-going conflict between himself and Sir Alex, history would suggest that the United boss has never been afraid of making sensational changes to remove disruptive influences from his squad.

Rooney’s two goals against Manchester City and the delight with which he celebrated adds credence to the denials from the player’s side, but Ferguson, clearly unhappy after a second-half that saw United give up two goals to leave the FA Cup tie a far tenser affair than the 3-0 half-time score suggested, compared Rooney’s treatment in the Press to Paul Gascoigne’s in his post-match interview. Ferguson may have been defending his player, but the comparison between Rooney and England’s troubled genius of another generation was likely not co-incidental.

The reported fallout between Rooney and Sir Alex was believed to have stemmed from Rooney’s performance in training, following a night out with teammates and their partners. While the details of the evening in question are disputed among the media, with sources quoted in the press contradicted by the player’s representatives, the decision to omit Rooney from the match day squad for United’s shock 3-2 defeat at home to relegation candidates Blackburn Rovers did little to dispel any rumours of disharmony in the camp.

With United dominating the back pages after two successive defeats, a 3-0 defeat away to Newcastle United following the defeat to Blackburn, the timing of this story has done little to lift the mood at Old Trafford. While the official line from the club is that no rift exists, this latest incident holds the potential to anger a manager famous for offloading rebellious players from his squad.

After a number of alleged off-field indiscretions during his time at Old Trafford, as well as publicly declaring his desire to leave the club only to sign a new five-year contract just days later, the manager’s patience may be thinning. Having just celebrated a highly-decorated 25-year spell at the club, with no immediate sign of retiring, Sir Alex’s methods have at times been questioned, but as his medal collection would attest, often lead to greater success.

Despite enhancing their reputations at the club, dominating competitions both in England and on the continent, many a star player for United has left, often in their peak years, after disputes with the manager. The likes of Paul Ince, Jaap Stam, David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy have all moved onto pastures new after reported clashes with the management.

In demanding nothing but complete respect from his players, Ferguson has created a legacy which will see him remembered as one of the greatest football managers of all-time. For those that have embraced to the Ferguson methods, many of whom from the early stages of their careers, the United boss has led his players to continuous success. While Rooney has earned a talismanic reputation at United, Ferguson has proven on numerous occasions that no player is bigger than the club and that Manchester United will continue to be a successful club long after the departure of any star, should it be decided that their future lies elsewhere.

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