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Unacceptable lack of fight seals Rooney's fate

Wayne Rooney no longer belongs at Manchester United. He doesn't belong at a club that is shaped by the personality of Alex Ferguson. He doesn't fit in with an ethos that demands maximum effort and a relentless will to succeed. He is no longer producing the football he used to, but his way of dealing with that is why United should sell him.

His relationship with Ferguson can no longer be the issue. Rooney gave no indication of a u-turn in his desire to leave following the announcement of Ferguson's retirement. His relationship with David Moyes is now the focus for some but the central issue in my view has nothing to do with either men or what Rooney thinks of them. It doesn't have anything to do with him being dropped for the Real Madrid game either.

His frustration at his downgraded status is understandable but his response to it is unacceptable. It has been a long time since anyone in the Manchester United dressing room walked away from a challenge, which is what Rooney is now seeking to do. The only acceptable reaction to a lack of game time or a loss of form is an increase in effort.

Anything else, particularly a desire to leave, is not the action of a player worth keeping. If he believes he is better off elsewhere then he is probably right, and United would be better served by his departure.

Ferguson's decision to omit him from the United squad for the win over Swansea last weekend was seen by many as an act of revenge or a show of power, but I read it as an entirely reasonable call given the historic significance of the occasion. If he wants no part in the future of the club, he deserved no part in the celebrations of the day.

This isn't about whether he is worth nearly a million a month in wages. That money would be better spent on someone who wants to play for United, but finances should not be the driving force in the decision to offload him. Obviously his sale value decreases as the contract runs down, but his speedy exit would be beneficial in other ways.

The United dressing room has been like no other for over 20 years which is why it has been so successful. Driven by immense character, it has always been about more than talent. Such a fiercely competitive environment is not the place for him any longer. The transition it is about to go through will be problematic enough without the presence of a player who wants away.

The difficulties facing David Moyes should not be unnecessarily enhanced by retaining a player of his stature with such questionable commitment.

Rooney was fortunate that his first transfer request was spun as the work of a meddling agent, but there is no disguising this one. He genuinely believes his career would be better served by leaving the club so there should be no reason to hang on to him any longer. In any case, retaining him for next season will only give him the opportunity to ask for a transfer a third time or leave the club for free in two years.

Despite what Ferguson said, early indications would suggest the club might be willing to sell him. If they were genuinely intent on keeping him, there would be little point in speaking publicly about his desire to leave. Ferguson has always kept issues of this nature in-house, so if keeping him was the plan then he would not have said a word to Geoff

Shreeves last Sunday. Or at his pre-game press conference on Friday.

Such a stance makes sense. United are not in the business of convincing want-away under-performers on massive salaries to remain. Their dressing room is no place for someone who isn't fully committed to being there. Moyes will have enough on his plate without Rooney's attitude contaminating the squad.

Ferguson is not a man to invite public criticism of United players so the obvious conclusion is that he no longer sees Rooney as one of those. His transfer value decreases the moment the club says they no longer want him, so assurances he is not for sale should be ignored.

Whether Moyes will have much of a say in what happens is unclear. He doesn't formally take charge until July 1 but he is expected to begin work as early as tomorrow. Events may have evolved beyond his influence already but his own view will be of enormous significance. Whatever the outcome, it is important he is seen to be behind it.

Stamping his authority on the players must be done as early as possible. Dispensing with Rooney would be his first opportunity.

rsadlier@independent.ie

Irish Independent