Moyes' first task will be to allay Rooney concerns

Posted by Mark Payne

David Moyes with Wayne Rooney after the latter signed a three and a half year contract at Goodison ParkPA PhotosDavid Moyes with Wayne Rooney after the latter signed a three and a half year contract at Goodison Park

Two weeks ago, Wayne Rooney reached the end of his tether. After months of frustration, he reportedly approached the club and once again asked for a transfer away from Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson never forgave Rooney for their 2010 contract dispute and pushed him to the point of departure. But the Scot has gone first. Addressing Rooney's future will be the first task the new manger faces.

David Moyes, the confirmed successor to Sir Alex, also fell out with Rooney, during the then-18-year-old's transfer from Everton to United in 2004. Additionally, Moyes was sufficiently upset by some of the comments made in Rooney's autobiography to take the striker to court in 2007.

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However, it is generally accepted that peace has been made between the pair in the intervening years. Rooney is said to be grateful for the mentoring Moyes provided in his early years, and Moyes is proud of what Rooney has achieved.

Ferguson is a less forgiving soul, and in truth, Rooney has been mismanaged by the outgoing legend. Over the course of this season, Rooney has been moved all around the pitch from wide right, to centre midfield and centre forward. It has seemed at times as if Fergie was simply doing this to teach him a lesson.

Fergie hated to lose. But in 2010, when Rooney publicly questioned the ambitions of the club, he effectively held the manager over a barrel. Ferguson relented on Rooney's financial demands and granted him the contract he desired. But he didn't forget it.

What is more, Rooney has been shunned for the biggest games of this campaign for quite flimsy reasons. When the striker was dropped for the return matches against Real Madrid and Chelsea, it made no sense -- it still doesn't make any sense. The fact that United lost both of those games is also telling.

In his resignation statement on Wednesday, Ferguson was keen to outline the strength of the squad he is leaving behind. Whilst that is undeniably true, it is also a squad a bit heavy at the edges. There is a wealth of talented youngsters and a strong contingent of seasoned veterans. It contains only one player in his peak years, though: Rooney.

He is the player most likely to be United's key figure for the next five years. Rooney would almost certainly not have survived another season of Ferguson, but fate has given him another chance.

If Moyes and Rooney are as cordial as is reported nowadays, then things could perk up instantly for the striker. Unhappy players do not play well and Rooney's performances have been very patchy of late. Ferguson had pushed him to the edge when he made that alleged transfer request a fortnight ago.

When motivated, the England striker is a powerful asset to any football club. And getting him motivated is a situation desirable to Manchester United. Because if United let Rooney rediscover his love of the game at PSG, or even Chelsea or Manchester City, they will be much poorer for it.

On the new manger's first day at the office, he would be well advised to do the following: Tell Wayne Rooney that he wants to build the team around him and ask him which position he wants to play. It might be the only way to ensure he stays.

Follow Mark Payne on www.twitter.com/markjpayne

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