United: No new Rooney news to report
Wayne Rooney's Manchester United future remains shrouded in mystery despite Sir Alex Ferguson's claim that he wants to "put the matter to bed". Instead, after a frantic day of comings and goings, United tonight released a statement which only brought greater confusion to the matter. "We are aware that there is intense public and media interest on the club at the moment, but there are no developments of note to report today," read an official club statement, released at 7pm. "I can confirm a number of meetings have taken place today, including with the player's representative. "The outcome of those meetings will become clear in the near future. In the meantime, fans are asked to be patient." Ferguson made his statement immediately after his side's Champions League victory over Bursaspor at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, knowing that his star striker had released a statement which effectively claimed United no longer matched his ambitions, but before he had read the full text. The Red Devils chief added that a meeting with chief executive David Gill had been scheduled for 10am on Thursday morning, at which Rooney's fate was expected to be sealed. As it turned out, it was the afternoon before Ferguson and Gill had face-to-face talks, which took place at Old Trafford, rather than at the Carrington training complex as had been expected by the mass ranks of the media, who had gathered believing they were about to witness the death throes of an illustrious United career. After spending approximately an hour inside the stadium, Ferguson drove off, with Gill eventually following. Yet still there was no confirmation of what had been discussed, nor any reason offered for the delay to the timetable Ferguson had laid down. Many theories could be offered. Beyond dispute is that with the Glazer family based in Florida, transatlantic communication would have put the deadline back if it had been required, even though Ferguson had already revealed conversations took place on Wednesday between Gill and United's controversial owners. It is quite possible Rooney's trusted adviser Paul Stretford was involved too, even if the possibility of United lodging a gross misconduct charge against a player who cost them £27million when he signed from Everton in 2004 was regarded as impossible to force through despite his damning assessment of the club's recruitment policy. Although the chances appear slim in the extreme, it cannot entirely be discounted there has been some kind of thaw in relations. A succession of managers, including Roberto Mancini and Jose Mourinho, have claimed this week that Rooney will remain at United. Even today, following the most recent outpouring of bad blood, there were some, like Bolton's Owen Coyle, who suggested Rooney's place remained at Old Trafford. Without some kind of clarification, the void can be filled with all kinds of rumour. Ferguson launched a passionate defence of his own transfer policy on Wednesday night, which directly answered one of Rooney's main complaints. And, while there have been rumours that some within the United playing squad have been left deeply unhappy at Rooney's insinuation of them being sub-standard, others have openly expressed hope that the striker, who celebrates his 25th birthday this weekend, can be persuaded to stay. "Wayne is one of the best players we have. Everyone knows that," full-back Patrice Evra said. "I don't really know what he has said but I hope he gets fit quickly and I sincerely hope he plays for us again. "But I am not Wayne Rooney. I am not Sir Alex Ferguson."
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