Manchester United: Wayne Rooney Is Facing a Losing Battle at Old Trafford

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Manchester United: Wayne Rooney Is Facing a Losing Battle at Old Trafford

The words from Manchester United to Wayne Rooney could not be more emphatic: this club is bigger than any player.

Both manager David Moyes and chief executive Ed Woodward placed the ball back in the forward's court over his future at Old Trafford.

The United boss, who oversaw a 1-0 defeat to Singha All Stars XI in his first match in charge on Saturday in Thailand, said Robin van Persie was his first-choice striker for the defence of the Premier League title next season, as Steve Bates of the Sunday People reported.

Wayne’s got a major part to play because we need to try and get him as many goals as we possibly can.

Overall, my thought on Wayne is that if for any reason we had an injury to Robin van Persie we are going to need him and I want as many options as possible.

It’s going to be a time to see how I work with him. Wayne, in a way, fits that as well. We need to see how it works. Maybe in a year’s time we might have to look at something else

Manchester United isn’t about Wayne Rooney. Manchester United is about the team, the club.

We are talking about him now, and rightly so, but I won’t allow Wayne Rooney to become more important than the football club.

However, it is the words of Woodward, as reported by Sky Sports, which hold the true strength of the message to Rooney, who has two years left on his current contract.

No contract renewals are being discussed. I am not sitting down with any player on an extension and there is no trigger date in the diary.

Would we be afraid to run a contract down? Of course not.

Effectively, the England international has been placed on probation for a year, and playing understudy to Robin Van Persie during that time is not where Rooney will have envisaged himself.

Following his move from Everton in the summer of 2004, Rooney immediately became one of the core figures in the Old Trafford team.

Adored by the supporters, his name was one of the first on the team sheet, but now the forward is a relatively peripheral figure with Moyes highlighting his name as cover for Van Persie.

That is not the situation Rooney will have been looking for after former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson claimed the player had submitted a second transfer request before the end of the last Premier League campaign.

Rooney has denied making this second request after originally asking for a transfer in October 2010, and was looking for an apology over Ferguson's comments, as Steve Bates of the Sunday People reported last month.

Ferguson might not be the manager of the club any more, but he is remaining at Old Trafford in a boardroom role. And if one man can claim to have an influence at the club, it could only be the man who guided the team to so much silverware during his tenure.

According to David Maddock of the Daily Mirror on July 2, Ferguson has also been highlighting that, at 27, Rooney is at an age which should be maximised in the transfer market.

Questions were raised over Rooney' future when Moyes was appointed to succeed Ferguson, following the Scot's successful libel court case against the striker in June 2008, as BBC News reported.

But Moyes has consistently maintained that Rooney is part of his plans for United and issued a "not for sale" notice on the forward in his first press conference after succeeding Ferguson, as Phil McNulty of BBC Sport reported.

The question over Rooney's future, though, has refused to go away and Moyes barely disguised his frustration at being quizzed on the issue again ahead of the friendly in Bangkok at the weekend after Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had expressed his admiration for the player, as Tony Banks and Richard Tanner of the Daily Express reported.

Rooney, of course, had returned to England due to a hamstring injury before the opening match of the tour and will be out of action for a month, as Jamie Jackson of The Guardian reported, but the shadow of his future hangs over the current tour.

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Moyes has already displayed exasperation in a press conference at being asked persistently about the forward. There is little chance he will not be asked again after arriving in Australia for next week's match against an A-League All Stars team in Melbourne.

For Moyes, this is a relatively new experience after 11 years at Everton, where the media spotlight is not as intense as it is at Old Trafford. But the current furore will act as a vital learning curve for the United boss.

Rooney has not been short of links with other clubs this summer. Arsenal remain the only club to have made an official move for the striker, as Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror reported, while Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid have also been credited with an interest, according to Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail.

There is no dearth of interest in the former Everton striker. In fact, it is arguable that the only place where he, seemingly, isn't coveted is Old Trafford.

The ball has been returned to Rooney's court with gathering top-spin and force. Rooney's only answer has to be smashing the return into the net and asking for an official transfer.

Wayne Rooney is in a battle he will not win. It is time to move on and accept the defeat in order to restore his credibility and form elsewhere.

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