Wayne Rooney has accused Manchester United of lacking ambition.
Twenty four hours after Sir Alex Ferguson’s devastating attack on his star striker, Rooney entered the fray.
In confirming he wishes to leave the Red Devils, the 24-year-old outlined why his future lies away from Old Trafford.
Ferguson claimed not to have an answer yesterday.
This evening, Rooney placed the Glazer family right in the spotlight, revealing that he asked for assurances from United chief executive David Gill in August about potential signings as he was concerned about the direction the club was heading in.
Last week, having been left completely unimpressed, the final blow was delivered.
“It is absolutely true that my agent and I have had a number of meetings with the club about a new contract,” he said.
“During those meetings in August I asked for assurances about the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world.
“For me it’s all about winning trophies – as the club has always done under Sir Alex. Because of that I think the questions I was asking were justified.
“I met with David Gill last week he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad,” said Rooney.
“I then told him that I would not be signing a new contract.”
Rooney will hope his comments take away the stigma of greed which Ferguson raised with his own devastating attack.
They will certainly strike a chord with those United fans opposed to the Glazer regime, who have constantly campaigned against the huge levels of debt the Americans incurred with their hugely leveraged buyout.
Less than two weeks ago, United announced losses of £83.6m, from a record operating profit of £100m.
Yet these were written off by Gill, who emphasised the club’s healthy bank balance, which is in excess of £165m.
The problem for United’s anti-Glazer faction – and now Rooney it seems – is that the money remains unspent at a time when United are haemorrhaging star players.
Although both Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez departed in the summer of 2009, United failed to attract world-class replacements.
The Manchester United Supporters Trust view the obstacle as being a £526m bond, and payment-in-kind notes of over £220m levied against the family themselves and attracting interest at a high rate of 16.25%.
Instead Ferguson brought in Michael Owen on a free transfer and Gabriel Obertan on a modest fee from Bordeaux to supplement Antonio Valencia, who arrived for £17m from Wigan.
United’s top target – Karim Benzema – went to Real Madrid instead, with Ferguson left to make the first of numerous claims that there was “no value in the market”.
When it was anticipated Ferguson would make major signings this summer following the loss of his side’s Premier League title, the Red Devils again limited their spending.
Javier Hernandez has made a decent impact following his arrival from Mexican outfit Chivas but England Under-21 international Chris Smalling has been purchased with an eye to the future, whilst winger Bebe has made just two substitute appearances since his shock £7m capture from Vitoria Guimaraes.
Various big names were linked with United, including German World Cup star Mesut Ozil, who like Benzema and Ronaldo, ended up at Real Madrid.
At the same time, nearby Manchester City were recruiting one-time United target Yaya Toure – on wages estimated to be around £200,000-a-week, twice Rooney’s current salary – and Mario Balotelli.
Rooney was left to conclude that United were no longer the club to be at, especially as Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar and Gary Neville are all nearing the end of their careers.
The same is also true of Ferguson, who will celebrate his 69th birthday on New Years’ Eve.
Now the Scot is left to contemplate picking up the wreckage from a quite disastrous week in terms of morale, knowing his star player will almost certainly leave in January, with no obvious replacement in sight and major questions now being asked about the capability of the club to bring in star names.
The one sliver of comfort for Ferguson is that Rooney has used this opportunity to dispel once and for all, the claim that he no longer respects his boss.
“I have never had anything but complete respect for MUFC. How could I not have done given its’ fantastic history and especially the last six years in which I have been lucky to play a part?” he said.
“Despite recent difficulties, I know I will always owe Sir Alex Ferguson a huge debt. He is a great manager and mentor who has helped and supported me from the day he signed me from Everton when I was only 18.
“For Manchester United’s sake I wish he could go on forever because he’s a one off and a genius.”