Rooney held showdown talks with Ferguson in which the 27-year-old told the outgoing manager he wanted a fresh start. But Ferguson informed Rooney, who has two years remaining on his contract, the wish would not be granted and that he still had a future at United.
On Wednesday night a United spokesperson said: “Wayne Rooney is not for sale.” The Liverpudlian has had an uneven season in which he has been played out of position by Ferguson and was dropped for the club’s biggest match, the Champions League last-16 second-leg meeting with Real Madrid in February.
Moyes, who was identified months ago by United as their ideal candidate to replace Ferguson whenever their manager stood down, was Rooney’s first manager when the striker broke into the Everton side in 2002.
After Rooney moved to United two years later, he and Moyes fell out, with the Scot suing the player regarding allegations he made in an autobiography. But after Rooney made a personal apology three years ago the pair’s relationship is thought to be healthy.
Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Bayern Munich may be among potential suitors for Rooney but, with his demand to leave coming before the surprise decision of Ferguson to retire, Moyes’s arrival may change the dynamic and convince Rooney he can make a fresh start under him.
The champions moved quickly to replace British football’s most highly decorated manager once a tearful Ferguson told executives two days ago that he would be stepping down. Confirmation regarding a 1 July appointment of Moyes is expected within the next 24 hours and may be as early as Thursday lunchtime after he has informed his Everton players of his decision. A source close to Moyes did not deny he will take over from Ferguson, who guided United to a 20th title this season.
United’s desire to secure Moyes took Everton by surprise, with the Merseyside club aggrieved they did not receive the courtesy of an official approach from the champions. However, as Moyes’s contract with Everton expires on 30 June United were not required to do so.
The news had been so unexpected at Goodison Park that until 2pm on Wednesday, four hours after Ferguson made his plans public, Everton’s chairman, Bill Kenwright, had no idea that Moyes was wanted by United.
Moyes took training day morning, before saying to the squad only: “I’m off to Chelsea”. He then went by car with his brother, who is also his agent, to London, where he met Kenwright and informed him of his decision.
As things stand, the 50-year-old’s normal press duties on Friday have not been cancelled and he is due to lead Everton for the visit of West Ham on Sunday, the same day that Ferguson oversees his last home game for United, against Swansea City, with huge tributes to the 71-year-old expected. Moyes can expect a good reception from the Goodison Park crowd before he ends 11 years in charge of Everton at Chelsea on the season’s final day on 19 May.