Thursday, June 8, 2006

The Player, The Coach and His Boss

So Wayne Rooney is going to the World Cup but do Manchester United want him there?

Absolutely no chance, is the answer. Rooney's scan declared the bone healed but as with all complex fractures the bone is only one part of the story and Sir Alex Ferguson is desperate for the player to remain in Manchester and rehabilitate. But FIFA rules stipulate that the national team takes precedent and Rooney rejoined the England squad.

After all the media speculation, wrangling and sackings Wayne Rooney will be part of England's World Cup squad no matter how much Fergie dislikes it. The most talented Englishman of his generation is at the centre of a fierce club versus country row, which threatens to obliterate relationships between the national FA and the land's biggest team. The argument, which came to a boil inside a private health clinic in Cheshire last night, centres on how fit Rooney actually is. United believe that he has not healed sufficiently to take part in the tournament, while England are desperate to gamble of the Red's prize asset.

In the end the FA insisted on calling in a FIFA doctor to pronounce that the player could be part of the squad and under FIFA rules United has no choice but to release the player. It also prompted a furious phone call between Sir Alex Ferguson, who is looking after the interests of Manchester United, and Sven Goran Eriksson who desperately trying to salvage his reputation in the motherland of football.

So victory to the FA then? Certainly that is the mood inside the camp if Leif Sward, the England doctor's, arm waving, fist pumping triumphalist return to Germany is anything to go by. The player is delighted, naturally, that he's part of the squad - even if it is against the advice of at least some of the medical community

But the presence of Manchester United's lawyers inside the medical centre while the results were being assessed is an ominous sign. This is a row that could get ugly, very ugly. United are already backing Charleroi's case against the Moroccan FA, in which they are claiming compensation for a player injured on international duty that could have a significant impact on how litigious the Manchester club gets. The ultimate scenario being that Wayne Rooney re-fractures the bone and is out for a considerable length of time prompting United to seek millions in compensation.

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