Rooney blames Glazers' reign for decision to leave
Wayne Rooney has placed the Glazer family's financial grip on Manchester United at the root of his determination to leave Old Trafford in a devastating 229-word statement lambasting the club's failure to compete for the "top players in the world".
Rooney, who missed last night's Champions League clash with Bursaspor at Old Trafford, confirmed that he would not be signing new terms to replace the final 20 months of his contract in a statement released by his advisers just two hours and 10 minutes prior to kick-off last night.
With United manager Alex Ferguson having detailed the breakdown of Rooney's relationship with the club during a press conference, the 24-year-old immediately found himself vilified and castigated by United supporters, who viewed his actions as being fuelled by greed.
Rooney's insistence his decision to leave has been driven by the lack of world-class players attracted to United since the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tévez in the summer of 2009 will, however, resonate with those supporters who view the Glazers as having placed United's future in jeopardy by attaching debts in excess of £720m to the club.
Despite recently claiming to have more than £160m of cash in the club's accounts, United have spent less than £50m on new players since the £80m sale of Ronaldo to Real Madrid. During the same period, Manchester City have spent almost £260m on a host of star players. And although there remains a strongly-held view within Old Trafford that Rooney's wage demands have proven to be a deal-breaker in the aborted contract talks, the England forward claims his disaffection is solely attributable to the lack of investment in top talent.
Rooney said: "I met with (chief executive) David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad. I then told him that I would not be signing a new contract.
"I was interested to hear what Alex had to say yesterday and surprised by some of it. It is absolutely true, as he said, that my agent and I have had a number of meetings with the club about a new contract.
"During those meetings in August I asked for assurances about the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world. I have never had anything but complete respect for MUFC. How could I not have done given its fantastic history and especially the last six years in which I have been lucky to play a part?
"For me it's all about winning trophies -- as the club has always done under Alex. Because of that I think the questions I was asking were justified."
Although United made tentative inquiries as to the availability of Spain forward David Villa towards the end of last season, the Valencia forward's determination to move instead to Barcelona ended their interest at an early stage.
A move for French forward Karim Benzema was also called off in July 2009 with Ferguson claiming Lyon's valuation of the player was too high, leaving a clear run for Real Madrid.
This summer Ferguson recruited Mexican forward Javier Hernandez, Fulham defender Chris Smalling and the unknown Portuguese winger Bebe, whose £7.4m arrival from Guimaraes came just three days before Rooney informed Ferguson and Gill of his concerns over the club's direction.
While sources close to the Glazer family issued a swift "no comment" when asked for a response to Rooney's claims, Ferguson's consistent rebuttal to suggestions that finances are being squeezed by the Americans has been that there is "no value" in the transfer market.
The Scot has also railed against the so-called "kamikaze" spending of rival clubs, namely City and Real Madrid, but United's failure to compete with Europe's wealthiest clubs has been a long-term bone of contention with supporters.
Aside from Rooney's worries over the club's withdrawal from the top level of the transfer market, his relationship with Ferguson has also been strained in recent weeks.
Revelations that Rooney has slept with prostitutes, followed by the player's public defiance of Ferguson last week when he rejected his manager's claims that he had been suffering from an ankle injury this season, have driven a wedge between the pair. But Rooney issued an olive branch to Ferguson by labelling the 68 year-old a "genius" and "mentor". Rooney, who has won eight major trophies under Ferguson at Old Trafford, added: "Despite recent difficulties, I know I will always owe Alex Ferguson a huge debt. He is a great manager and mentor who has helped and supported me from the day he signed me from Everton when I was only 18.
"For Manchester United's sake I wish he could go on forever because he's a one-off and a genius."
Rooney made no reference to Ferguson's insistence that the door remained open for him to return to the negotiating table, adding further weight to the perception that the former Everton forward has no intention of performing a U-turn on his decision to leave.
The Rooney saga ensured a heavy cloud hung over Old Trafford last night -- Ferguson's 2,000th in club management. Ferguson said: "This is my 2,000th game in management, but it feels like my 10,000th after the week I have had!" (© Daily Telegraph, London)