Want-away Rooney threatened at home by United fans
Wayne Rooney was visited at his Cheshire home last night by a gang of militant Manchester United supporters wearing balaclavas and with a banner threatening him personally if he chose to join Manchester City.
Early reports last night said that Rooney, whose shock decision not to sign a new contract at United first came to light on Sunday, came to the window of his house but did not venture further. There were suggestions that the banner made a death threat against Rooney although that could not be confirmed yesterday.
The Cheshire police force last night said that they were called to the disturbance in Prestbury, the village that is also home to Rooney's United team-mate Wes Brown and Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland.
Meanwhile, Rooney has been handed an 11th-hour chance to salvage his Manchester United career after a day of talks failed to bring an end to the "saga" of the 24-year-old's Old Trafford future.
United boss Alex Ferguson had insisted on Wednesday that talks with chief executive David Gill yesterday would put the "saga to bed." There is a sense within Old Trafford, however, that Rooney's stance might now have softened, to the extent that a rapprochement -- unthinkable just 24 hours earlier -- could be negotiated.
Ferguson spent almost two hours with Gill in a meeting at Old Trafford before leaving the stadium just after 2.0. Gill also held further talks with Paul Stretford, Rooney's representative.
A club spokesman said: "There are no developments of note to report today. A number of meetings have taken place, including with the player's representative.
"The outcome of those meetings will become clear in the near future. In the meantime, fans are asked to be patient."
Ferguson has been careful to express his hope that the player can be persuaded to reconsider his stance and commit to a new long-term contract.
When asked whether he was considering suspending Rooney, Ferguson also quickly played down such an outcome.
The manager has been angered by the content and timing of Rooney's remarks, while the player was subjected to derogatory chants and banners during the Champions League victory against Bursaspor on Wednesday, which he missed due to an ankle injury.
Ferguson has been given the full backing of United's owners, the Glazer family, to take whatever action he feels necessary with Rooney, but his insistence that the club can attract the top-level players demanded by Rooney, appeared a direct message to his star player that his concerns were misplaced.
The Glazers are aware of the need for United to possess a player of Rooney's global standing, while Ferguson admitted this week that Rooney's talent is enough to fuel attempts to persuade him to stay.
United believe they can offer Rooney, who turns 25 on Sunday, a salary to reflect his elevation to the football superstar bracket, but remain concerned that wealthy rivals such as Manchester City and Chelsea could offer equally -- or in City's case superlatively -- lucrative packages.
Talks are expected to continue between both parties today and possibly into the weekend. (© Daily Telegraph, London)