In his press conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Bursaspor, Ferguson appeared hurt that Rooney wanted out, and left the door open for the striker to sign an extension to his current deal, which expires in 2012. It is rare that a player leaves against Ferguson's wishes.
Ferguson said he was "shocked" and "couldn't understand" why Rooney wanted to move away from Old Trafford. The player had previously stated that his wish to stay at the club "for life," and Ferguson suggested this was an example of the game having entered into a "new world," with greed and player-power ruling.
Possible reasons for Rooney's desire to leave:
1) More money. Rooney's 'people' have made it clear over the last few days that the player wanted his next contract to be in line with the very elite of the world game. Rooney currently earns a basic salary of £90,000-a-week but was believed to want closer to £150,000. While Ferguson says the club were willing to offer Rooney a deal that would be "difficult to better elsewhere," it may be that the two parties could not meet in the middle.
2) Private life. With the News of the World having last month revealed that Rooney cheated on his wife Coleen and slept with a prostitute, could it be that the player wants a new start in a different country? Rooney has never appeared suited to a life abroad, but an escape from the relentless press intrusion and the goldfish bowl of English soccer may now be more appealing than ever to the couple.
3) A club in decline. Manchester United are in more debt than ever before, and it may be that Rooney believes they can no longer compete financially with Chelsea and Manchester City. A player's career is short, and Rooney may feel he is more likely to win the major trophies elsewhere.
I can't help but feel there is something else at work here. Ferguson has denied any falling out with Rooney, so taking the manager on his word, we can rule that out. I would be surprised if allegations over his private life, or frustration over the club's financial state, would prompt such a reaction, but can this really be just about money?
For all that United have given the player since signing him as an 18-year-old from Everton, he owes all at the club a hasty explanation.
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