Manchester United chief executive David Gill has pleaded for patience as delicate talks with Wayne Rooney continue.
The 30-strong mob that turned up at Rooney’s Prestbury mansion last night should help to focus minds on what is believed to be a final attempt to persuade the player, who celebrates his 25th birthday this weekend, that his future does remain at Old Trafford after all.
No damage was caused to Rooney’s property, but the ill-feeling was an indication of what might lie in store should he opt to quit the Red Devils, especially if he subsequently turned up at Manchester City.
After claiming on Wednesday evening, hours after Rooney released a statement confirming that United no longer matched his ambition, that he wanted the whole matter “put to bed”, Alex Ferguson held talks with Gill at Old Trafford yesterday.
Gill subsequently spoke with Rooney’s trusted advisor Paul Stretford. While there was nothing positive to announce, there was nothing definitive on the player’s exit either.
“We are aware that there is intense public and media interest on the club at the moment, but there are no developments of note to report,” read an official club statement.
“We can confirm a number of meetings have taken place today, including with the player’s representative. The outcome of those meetings will become clear in the near future. In the meantime, fans are asked to be patient.”
Former team-mate Carlos Tevez is said to have provided a positive CV for City owner Sheikh Mansour in a telephone conversation between the pair that club officials were unable to confirm or deny.
This will be noted by United, who, whilst winning the PR battle, face a backlash over the longer term if they lose another world-class talent without bringing in adequate replacements.
Although words can be interpreted in many different ways, the toned-down content of the statement suggests plenty of heat has been taken out of the entire situation.
A succession of managers, including Roberto Mancini and Jose Mourinho, have claimed this week their belief that Rooney will remain at United.
While there have been rumours that some within the United playing squad have been left deeply unhappy at Rooney’s insinuation of them being sub-standard, others have openly expressed a hope that the striker can be persuaded to stay.
“Wayne is one of the best players we have. Everyone knows that,” said Patrice Evra. “I don’t really know what he has said but I hope he gets fit quickly and I sincerely hope he plays for us again.
“But I am not Wayne Rooney. I am not Sir Alex Ferguson.”