Wayne Rooney: From Super-Star To Dumb-Star

Wayne Rooney has told Manchester United he wants to leave Old Trafford as soon as possible after a massive fall-out with manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The troubled England striker has told his employers he will not sign a new contract and would prefer them to let him leave when the transfer window reopens in January. He has complained that his relationship with Ferguson has completely disintegrated, and likens it to the split that occurred between the United manager and David Beckham in 2003.

Manchester United were surprisingly swift in denying reports that it was their intention to sell Rooney, issuing a statement to that effect. It is understood that the initiative is actually being taken by Rooney, who feels aggrieved with Ferguson for what he sees as a lack of support over the recent turmoil in his private life. When news first broke of the scandal involving Rooney and two prostitutes, Ferguson chose not to play him at Everton, publicly citing a recurrence of the ankle injury the striker suffered in Munich last season.

But Rooney considered the decision to be more of a punishment than an effort to protect him, and was similarly unimpressed with Ferguson's decision to leave him out of the team for the encounters with Fulham, Sunderland and Valencia. It came to a head when Rooney then publicly defied Ferguson by telling reporters after England's game against Montenegro last week that he was not even injured. "I've had no ankle problem," said Rooney, which contradicted statements he had made in recent weeks. Ferguson responded by leaving him on the bench for 70 minutes of Saturday's 2-2 draw with West Bromwich.

Rooney has 18 months left on his contract and the club may have to sell or risk losing him for nothing. When he cost close to £30m, that would be hard for the Glazer family to accept. United said suggestions they had already decided to sell Rooney were 'nonsense'.

Exclusively by Matt Lawton

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