Sir Alex Ferguson Had to Offer Wayne Rooney an Olive Branch at Manchester United
It was left to David Moyes to talk us through the Wayne Rooney saga this summer. There was barely an instance when he wasn't asked about whether or not the England striker was staying or going. But the situation wasn't of his making.
It was a problem he inherited with Sir Alex Ferguson's desk, leaving him to explain the mess. The protagonists were Rooney and Ferguson, but they stayed silent while the new man was left to fend off a series of awkward questions.
Until this week.
First, Rooney was up in front of the cameras, talking about his two goals against Bayer Leverkusen that took him past 200 as a United player. However, he then reacted angrily to questions about his future.
Next, it was Sir Alex's turn, who praised Rooney's "fantastic" performance against the Germans. It was Ferguson's first interview since his retirement, given to the club's in-house television channel, MUTV.
For some, the timing was strange, only coming a few days before United's trip to City on Sunday. But really, it couldn't have been any better. Rooney's performance on Tuesday night at Old Trafford gave Ferguson a get-out-of-jail-free card.
He was free to talk about Rooney's "energy" and "determination," both of which were on display against Bayer Leverkusen, but without mention of the unpleasantness this summer. Thus, the Rooney issue was swept under the carpet in a barrage of compliments.
It was billed as an olive branch, but Ferguson could hardly have done anything else. It's not his job to cast public judgement on United's players anymore. He gave up that right when he hung up his dark grey coat for the last time.
As hard as it is to separate Sir Alex and United, it's Moyes' team now.
And as much as Ferguson did for the club during his 26 years there, the last thing Moyes needs is a back-seat driver. It's hard enough to replace the irreplaceable without the old boss peering over your shoulder while you work.
Moyes will hope that this week marks the end of the Rooney saga. The 27-year-old is back in form, looking fit and scoring goals.
Ferguson's eagerly-awaited first words have come and gone, and he's only had nice things to say. Rooney, too, has said he's "concentrating on his football," which can only be good news after a summer of turmoil.
From now on, it will be left to Moyes to do all the talking. Just as it should be.
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