| 2.4°C Dublin

Decision day for Rooney

ALEX Ferguson kicks off the opening Champions League week of the season with a king size headache. Does he leave Wayne Rooney benched or does he back his man?

Fergie gave Rooney the day off at Goodison on Saturday to shield him from a Merseyside savaging but the lurid headlines show no sign of abating.

Manchester United host Rangers at Old Trafford tomorrow and if the abuse showered on him by Everton fans in his absence is anything to go by, a big Glasgow contingent won't spare his blushes either.

However, Ferguson is preparing a new contract offer for Rooney which tells us exactly what he thinks of his best player and underlines his belief that, in time, the current controversy will blow over.

Rooney is pondering an offer rumoured to be worth £130,000 a week over five years, a deal which would effectively tie him to Old Trafford for life and is reckoned to be £50,000 a week more than his existing salary.

Negotiations were due to begin three weeks ago but in the current atmosphere, headlines trumpeting a new £6m a year salary for Rooney would hardly be helpful.

But Ferguson will want talks to begin as soon as possible, particularly now that Jose Mourinho is installed in Madrid and likely to be able to afford any player he desires.

"Signing Mourinho has upped the ante for Real. They'll have a better chance now - he's got a better squad," he said. "He's the first Real coach that's bought players with a plan."