Rooney dilemma as Ferguson bows out
United boss leaves question of England star's future at Old Trafford to his successor as forward sits out win after reports of transfer request
Alex Ferguson bowed out in triumph following his last Old Trafford match as Manchester United manager, only to leave successor David Moyes with the familiar problem of what to do with striker Wayne Rooney.
No sooner had the Premier League champions defeated Swansea 2-1 to bring down the curtain on Ferguson's final home match after more than 26 years in charge of United, than the veteran manager revealed that the England international had submitted a transfer request.
Ferguson, who retires at the end of the season, dropped Rooney for the Swansea match and said the forward had not been in the right frame of mind to play.
"I don't think Wayne was keen to play because he's asked for a transfer and he wants to think it through in his mind. I think that's a good idea," Ferguson said.
"We're not going to let him go. I think maybe he's a little bit frustrated that he's been taken off once or twice in the last few weeks," the Scot added.
Although Rooney was not included in United's match-day squad, he took part in the post-match victory celebrations after the players were presented with the Premier League trophy, and was also seen to share a brief on-pitch embrace with Ferguson.
Rooney last asked to leave United in 2010, when he accused the club of failing to match his ambitions, only to change his mind and sign a new five-year contract.
Speculation about his future was sparked after he was left out of the United starting XI for the crucial Champions League last-16 home game against Real Madrid in March, with England teammate Danny Welbeck playing in his place.
He has also been obliged to play in an unfamiliar midfield role in recent weeks, due to top scorer Robin van Persie's status as the club's No1 striker.
Rumours that Rooney had asked to leave the club again first emerged shortly after Ferguson announced last Wednesday that he was retiring from his roles as manager at Old Trafford after a record-breaking 261/2-year spell, in which he won 38 trophies.
Moyes handed Rooney his professional debut at the age of 16 when he was at Everton.
Rooney joined United in a £27-million (HK$320 million) transfer two years later ,and although Moyes sued him over remarks that appeared in the player's autobiography in 2006, the pair later reconciled.
Ferguson - perhaps conscious of the Rooney problem that will confront both Moyes and new United chief executive Ed Woodward, who will replace the well-regarded long-serving David Gill at the end of the season - thanked supporters and urged them to back this successor.
"You've been the most fantastic experience of my life," he said, as the crowd of 75,572 fell silent to listen to the man who revived United following his arrival from Aberdeen in November 1986. "My retirement doesn't mean the end of my life with the club. I'll be able to enjoy watching them, rather than suffer with them.
"I'd also like to remind you that when we had bad times here, the club stood by me, all the staff stood by me, and the players stood by me," Ferguson said. "Your job now is to stand by our new manager."
The 71-year-old later hoisted the Premier League trophy in front of his jubilant players, three weeks after United secured an unprecedented 20th English league title with a 3-0 home win over Aston Villa.
The Everton boss will take over as manager at United on July 1, having signed a six-year contract, with Ferguson taking up director and ambassador roles.
In another sign of the changing times at Old Trafford, Paul Scholes made his farewell appearance after announcing that he is to retire for the second time.
The final game of Ferguson's United reign will be at West Bromwich Albion this weekend.
Moyes was given a warm send-off by Everton's fans after his side beat West Ham United 2-0 at Goodison Park in his final home game of his 11-year reign.
"There's always a worry when you're joining another club, but Everton fans were magnificent for me today," Moyes said.
While Ferguson and Moyes have some measure of control over their immediate futures, the same cannot be said of Manchester City's Roberto Mancini.
A year on from leading City to the Premier League title, the Italian has been the subject of widespread reports that he was about to be sacked after the side's shock 1-0 FA Cup defeat by underdogs Wigan on Saturday.
Reports in Spain suggested that Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini has already been lined up to take over at City.
Mancini did his case little good when he criticised City's Abu Dhabi owners for not quelling the prevailing uncertainty over his future.
"I don't know why the club didn't stop this, because I didn't think it was correct. I don't think that it's true," he said.
The final say:
"Sir Alex just said play the game and not the occasion. He wanted to win the game, wanted it to be an entertaining game and for us to do the things which he has wanted us to as a manager. The memories of him that stick out are when I was younger. When I was 13 playing for Salford Boys and looking to the sidelines and there was Sir Alex Ferguson watching."
Ryan Giggs, veteran Manchester United midfielder
"It will be strange not to see him in the dressing room. This is a big club and will always be a big club but it is sad after so many years, without him is going to be sad. Even on the last day he wanted to win the game. He told us this is the mentality you have to have when I go, always fight, always want to win."
Nemanja Vidic, United captain
"It's an unbelievable day, but a sad one as well. I had the honour to work with him for one year and it's been an unbelievable year. He's made such an impact on me. He may be the greatest manager ever and he's such a nice person."
Robin van Persie, United striker
"It's been a good day. We've won the game, that's all that matters. We'll celebrate tonight and hopefully in more years there will be more trophies for these players. Today, it was just nice to get through the game. I thought Sir Alex handled it well, he spoke really well and he has done a fantastic job here."
Paul Scholes, retiring United midfielder
"It is a special day. It is one thing that a manager in a big club stops, but this is a lifetime, not a small era. It is incredible. I have a lot of respect for Sir Alex to have so many years in the same club, so unique. It is a lifetime."
Michael Laudrup, Swansea manager