David Moyes has shown the first signs of exasperation as Manchester United boss — because he keeps having to say Wayne Rooney is not for sale.
Rooney may be back home in England, his pre-season tour ended after less than 24 hours with a grade one hamstring tear that will keep him on the sidelines for up to three weeks. But the questions about his future keep on coming.
In the latest instance the trigger was a comment from Jose Mourinho, who landed in Bangkok yesterday and took even less time than Rooney was in the country to make his presence felt.
While Mourinho said it was not proper to talk about the player of another club, neither was he prepared to stay silent.
“You know me,” said Mourinho. “It is not in my character to speak to you with a little bit of hypocrisy. “I always say what I think and, being fast and direct, I like him very much.”
Had the former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson been addressing the media a couple of hours later in a different part of the same city, it is easy to imagine what the response would have been. But there is a new man at the helm, who is still feeling his way through the early stages of the job and has opted to avoid direct confrontation just now.
The undercurrent is one of growing irritation.
“Unless I was speaking double Dutch, I have said ‘Wayne Rooney is not for sale’,” he said. “I have really covered all the things on Wayne.”
It was typical Mourinho mischief making around a player who could end the debate immediately should he so wish by confirming he intends to remain at Old Trafford.
Yet Moyes did not see the Chelsea manager’s comments in those terms. “People are entitled to talk about good players,” he said.
“I am being asked plenty about Wayne so I am sure Jose will be getting asked about lots of players as well. “It is hard to keep repeating myself — but I will. Wayne is a Manchester United player and will remain that. You mustn’t forget Manchester United is about a team, not any one individual. In lots of ways I am only interested in the team and some of the questions are reverting back to stuff I covered last week.”
Out for up to three weeks
At least Moyes was able to deliver positive news on Rooney’s injury. Though the problem is evidently worse than thought when it first surfaced at Carrington prior to departure on Wednesday, the United boss feels Rooney could be fit by the time his teammates return home at the end of the month.
“We didn’t expect it,” he said. “We wouldn’t have brought him if we had known. But once we had it checked, there was no point taking a risk. We could have taken him to all the other places but he wouldn’t have played the games. We thought for the benefit of the player, the best thing to do was get him back right away and let him get on with his rehabilitation.
“Wayne should only be out for two or three weeks, so we will keep his work up. With a hamstring injury you can do lots of work in the swimming pool and some work in the gym. And when we return from this tour we still have the game in Stockholm, the Community Shield and Rio’s testimonial.”
. Wayne Rooney’s sudden departure from the Asia tour did not ease speculation about his future which has been swirling since former United manager Alex Ferguson said the striker had asked for a transfer.
. The 27-year-old has denied asking to leave the club but he has not confirmed his intentions either.