Last month The Mirror served as a mouthpiece for Wayne Rooney in his “transfer saga” with him looking for a move away from Manchester United again. With a few weeks having gone by and United rejecting an offer from Chelsea, Paul Stretford has been a busy bee and has briefed the newspaper yet again. This time it is Brian Reade, a Liverpool fan who grew up ten minutes away from Wayne Rooney in Huyton, who has been all too happy to serve as Stretford’s PR machine.

The latest piece starts by explaining why people may feel negatively towards Rooney for wanting to leave United, Reade is quick to turn it around to justify the player’s behaviour.

When a “confused and angry” Wayne Rooney feels he’s being constructively dismissed by Manchester United (for having the audacity to pay him £250,000-a-week without guaranteeing he’ll play every game) he garners as much sympathy as an investment banker being mugged at a cashpoint. But when you look past Rooney’s arrogance and pay-slips, it’s easy to see why he feels that, for months, he’s been eased towards the exit door. Which puts a different perspective on his current behaviour.

Reade blames all of this situation on our former manager, not Rooney, claiming: “the person with his fingerprints all over this mess is Sir Alex Ferguson.”

Remember that game at the Bernabeu when Rooney looked like a lost boy and put in arguably his worst performance of the season? And Danny Welbeck scored our only goal? Ok, just checking.

He [Ferguson] bizarrely dropped Rooney for that crucial game against Real Madrid, which back-fired horrendously.

The decision to drop Rooney after his woeful performance in Madrid was a brave one but it certainly didn’t backfire. Rooney’s replacement, Welbeck, was probably our Man of the Match (if not Giggs) and United were in control of the game. Unfortunately, we were given a referee who didn’t know the rules of the game (or was paid off) and we went down to ten men. The decision to drop Rooney was the correct one and the only people who would believe otherwise could only be the player and his agent. To even suggest that Rooney’s absence contributed to our defeat that evening is laughable, particularly given just how poor he was in the first game against them.

He [Ferguson] announced, unprompted, that Rooney had submitted a transfer request, despite the player’s vehement denials.

Firstly, Ferguson never claimed that Rooney had submitted a transfer request. Ferguson announced that Rooney wanted to leave the club. Secondly, Ferguson wasn’t unprompted. Having not played Rooney in the game after learning the striker no longer wanted to be a United player, the manager was asked about Rooney and he replied. Thirdly, the player hasn’t denied anything, let alone “vehement” denials. Rooney took the time to release a statement to talk about the trivial matter of a bio change on Twitter but has not once denied Ferguson’s claims and has not once said he wants to stay at United.

After hearing Moyes say Rooney was now nothing more than back-up for van Persie, it’s not hard to work out what the mentor has told him to do: Marginalise him.

You would think that being able to read would be a basic requirement for a journalist, wouldn’t you? We can all pick quotes out of context to imply a different meaning to the one intended. I’ll have a go at doing it from the same Moyes interview Reade is referring to. “I think he’s [Rooney] got a major role to play because we need to try and get as many goals as we possibly can. I think Wayne can play up-top he can play dropped in. Overall my thought on Wayne is he’ll be key. I want to be able to play the two of them [Rooney and Van Persie]. The first year I think I have to get a chance to see (all the players) and how best to use them. It’s a chance for me to get Wayne right back to where he was. That’s the challenge and a challenge I want to take on.”

Don’t be conned by the Rooney PR machine. The club are adamant they won’t sell and Stretford is getting desperate.

Why did Fergie allow this to happen? He must have known the incredible pressure that Rooney agitating for a move would put on Moyes and new chief executive Ed Woodward as they tried to find their feet. Why, once he knew he was retiring, did he continue his ruthless attempt to turn the fans against Rooney and push him out? Might it be that old habits die hard and he couldn’t help himself? Right to the bitter end, regardless of the risk to the club, he had to show there was no-one at Old Trafford bigger than him. It was one last hit before the sheriff handed in his gun. With deputy Moyes being left to mop up the blood.

An easy solution is to blame Ferguson, who is no longer manager, instead of pointing the finger at the player or the club. It’s not unimaginable that Ferguson held some resentment towards Rooney for his behaviour less than three years ago, but to suggest that Ferguson is going to purposefully sabotage David Moyes’ start at United and the future success of the club because he was pissed off with Rooney is ridiculous. Is it beyond Reade to imagine that one of the reasons Ferguson made Rooney’s desires public when he did was to protect Moyes? Knowing that Rooney wanted to leave, Ferguson wanted people to know this whilst he was still manager, so Moyes couldn’t be blamed for it? So that Moyes’ first task as manager could be trying to convince Rooney to stay (and possibly being successful) rather than being blamed by the media and fans for the exit of one of the club’s best players?

We don’t know all of what’s gone on behind the scenes but it’s patently clear that Reade doesn’t either, with him more than happy to print the version of events the Rooney camp have briefed him on, seemingly unconcerned with whether it’s true or not.




------------
The RoM 2016-17 Season Preview is available for just £5. It includes an EXCLUSIVE interview with Mikael Silvestre, a Q&A with the country's top journalists about our transfer targets, articles by brilliant United writers, and so much more. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.