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Rooney confirms he will not re-sign with Manchester United

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Associated Press
10/20/2010 4:33:26 PM
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LONDON -- Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and chief executive David Gill will meet Thursday to discuss what to do next after Wayne Rooney blamed his decision not to sign a new contract on the club's failure to spend heavily on top-class players.

Having already told United that he wants to end his six-year association with the 18-time English champions, Rooney issued a public denunciation of the club's transfer activity -- or lack of it -- hours before Wednesday's 1-0 Champions League win over Bursaspor.

Ferguson said that he had yet to read the England striker's statement in full but that he would talk it over with Gill. The most decorated manager in English soccer history said he still hoped to persuade the 24-year-old Rooney to stay at Old Trafford.

"We'll probably put it to bed tomorrow," Ferguson said. "The door is open. We're that kind of club that we want to keep good players, particularly when they're as good as that."

Rooney has 20 months remaining on his contract and Ferguson made public his player's decision to turn down a new deal on Tuesday, while stressing his desire to hang on to a player who scored 34 goals last season.

But Rooney's statement only clarified his dissatisfaction with United's failure to bolster its squad.

"I met with David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad," Rooney said. "I then told him that I would not be signing a new contract. I was interested to hear what Sir Alex had to say yesterday and surprised by some of it.

"It is absolutely true, as he said, that my agent and I have had a number of meetings with the club about a new contract. During those meetings in August I asked for assurances about the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world."

United finished second in the Premier League and only won the Carling Cup last season after losing Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid and striker Carlos Tevez to newly rich Manchester City -- without signing similarly high-profile replacements.

United's ability to compete for the world's top players is hampered by its debts of more than 750 million pounds (C$1.2 billion), resulting from the 2005 leveraged takeover by the Glazer family.

Rooney has won three Premier League titles and the Champions League once since joining United in 2004 from boyhood club Everton for 25.6 million pounds (then US$40 million).

Rooney has also seen neighbour Manchester City dramatically outspend United in the last two years since being bought by Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour.

Like Ferguson, Rooney downplayed talk about a rift between the two -- calling the manager "a genius" -- and said his decision was based solely on ambition.

"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?" Rooney said. "For me its 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.

"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."

Ferguson showed signs of tension as he spoke later Wednesday about the Rooney speculation, rejecting questions about the issue after the European match.

But he hinted that Rooney might be mistaken by assuming the grass is greener elsewhere.

"Sometimes you look in a field and see a cow," Ferguson said. "You think it is a better cow than the one you see in your field. It never really works out that way.

"Some players like to think the world is better somewhere else. It never really works."

While Britain's famously excitable newspapers have been speculating feverishly on which of Europe's financial heavyweights might try signing the England international, City manager Roberto Mancini insisted that his club had not been in contact with Rooney.

"We must think about our season and our players -- that's what's important at this moment," Mancini said. "In the summer, if there is a good player that could change something for us, we can talk about this.

"Rooney is a great player but I think he'll stay at United."

Real Madrid has also been identified as a potential suitor but coach Jose Mourinho said he expects the player to remain at Old Trafford.

"(But) if at the end of the day Man United decide that he is to leave, then give me a call," Mourinho said.

Ronaldo struck up a superb partnership with Rooney before leaving for the Spanish giants for 80 million pounds in June 2009.

Rooney's recent form has fallen woefully short of last season, when he scored 34 goals in all competitions to establish himself as one of the world's top players. He has scored only once for United this season -- a penalty against West Ham -- and faces a spell on the sidelines after injuring his ankle.

Wayne Rooney (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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