It was the right move, even if it turns out he isn't telling the truth.
But first, his comments, via Phil McNulty of the BBC:
On Friday, Moyes made his first public appearance since succeeding the retired Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford—and Rooney's future was at the top of the agenda.
"Wayne Rooney is not for sale. He's a Manchester United player and will remain a Manchester United player. Wayne won't be sold by Manchester United," the former Everton boss said.
"Whatever happened before has gone now," insisted the new United boss.
"We are working together now. I have seen a glint in his eye, he looks happy and looks as if he is going to knuckle down."
Moyes said Rooney's meeting with Ferguson "was a private meeting between two people".
"I was not privy to it," added Moyes. "I don't know what those two gentlemen said. That conversation was private and as far as I am concerned I'm looking forward to working with Wayne."
You can make the argument that Moyes didn't really have a choice but to say what he did, and you would perhaps be right. He wasn't going to come out and publicly say, "Hey guys, come make me an offer, I don't want Rooney on my squad."
But by saying Rooney wasn't available in definitive terms, he resolved any issues with the player, at least for the time being. And in the process, he didn't sacrifice any leverage in case Rooney is eventually sold.
If Rooney enters the season with Manchester United, he'll still save face. Moyes essentially put any issues in the past, meaning if Rooney sticks around the United fans can always fall back on the idea that it was Rooney and Ferguson who had the dispute, not Rooney and the club.
In other words, Moyes is giving Rooney a fresh start in a new era of Manchester United football.
But if the club is actually still interested in selling the star forward, Moyes let it be known they won't be lowballed. If there is any inclination from another club that Rooney wants to force a move—or that United want him gone—any offers coming forward would be below Rooney's market value.
Not now. Now, a team better get United's attention with a deal.
Of course, it was probably always a long shot that Rooney would be moved anyway. This entire situation got blown way out of proportion, seeing as England's biggest star on the country's most successful club will sell papers with his every word (or any rumored words).
And with the notion floating about that Rooney might leave and Cristiano Ronaldo might come back, well, pigs started flying above the houses of a few writers—let's just leave it at that.
So, the question now is simple: Do we believe Moyes? Is Rooney really not for sale? Is this early summer saga finally over?
The answers are (very tentatively) as follows:
- For the time being, yes.
- Unless another club makes the Red Devils an offer they can't refuse, he'll be sticking around.
- Of course not! Rumors are fun...
For a day, we can consider Rooney very firmly a member of Manchester United. But hey, who knows what tomorrow holds?
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