But United may decide to traverse a much more slippery slope than that.
From Press Association, via The Guardian:
With two years to run on Rooney's, the perceived wisdom has been if the striker is to remain at Old Trafford then an extension will have to be negotiated, otherwise United risk either a collapse in the 27-year-old's value or him leaving for nothing should he remain for a further two seasons. Given their aggressive approach to the financial side of their club, it seemed impossible the Glazer family would allow that to happen.
However, speaking to reporters in Thailand before Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Singha All Stars, [chief executive Ed] Woodward said that is not the case.
"There are no contract renewals that are being discussed. I am not sitting down with any player on an extension and there is no trigger date in the diary," Woodward said. "Would we be afraid to run a contract down? Of course not."
With Moyes saying in no uncertain terms that Rooney would be retained, it seemed likely it would follow that a contract negotiation was being ironed out. Apparently, that isn't the case.
The question is: Why?
Perhaps United is sending the message to Rooney that the club wants to see him both commit to remaining at Old Trafford for the near future and wants to see his performance raised after a subpar (by his standards) 2012-13 season.
That's a risky play, however, especially considering Rooney has been an elite player for years. He may take that approach as an affront and simply demand a move in a summer from now.
On the other hand, perhaps United fully plans to sell Rooney but doesn't want to appear as though it is pushing him out the door, which surely wouldn't be popular with fans. By publicly announcing an intent to keep him but failing to negotiate a contract extension, United would essentially be telling Rooney he would have to remain a Red Devil on the club's terms.
And that could be enough to inspire Rooney to formally hand in a transfer request.
Bada bing, bada boom, United doesn't take the public relations hit but still gets to ship out Rooney. It's a good summer to move him, as his selling price will only go down as he nears 30.
Again, however, it's a risky approach. If Rooney simply decides to stay and honor his contract, his leverage only increases. United won't want to give him up on the cheap, but if he doesn't have a great season again this year, his market value will go down.
Manchester United should...
One would think United would either want an assurance of Rooney's intent to remain with the club for years or to move him this summer and maximize his value.
So Woodward may be telling the truth about a lack of contract negotiations, but it's hard to imagine United going into this season without extending Rooney or selling him.
From a business perspective, it would be an unwise approach for the Red Devils.