The decision of United manager Sir Alex Ferguson to leave Rooney out of his starting line-up to face Real Madrid in the Champions League on Tuesday has sparked intense speculation that the 27-year-old could leave Old Trafford, with all of Thursday's national newspapers carrying stories suggesting the England forward's time at the club could be coming to an end.
But McClaren, who also worked as Ferguson's assistant from 1999 to 2001, believes too much has been made of Rooney's omission and told Sky Sports News: "It is premature and obviously stirred up by the media. Everyone is looking for controversy and some like to find it in the selection Sir Alex made."
He added: "But there are many good players at Manchester United. One player is not bigger than the football club - that is Sir Alex's mantra, that has always been his saying.
"He picked a team on Tuesday to beat Real Madrid and he very nearly succeeded.
"I wouldn't say he (Rooney) was dropped. I would say this was well planned, weeks and weeks ahead. Wayne Rooney would have known this decision was coming.
"He will have explained the reasons to Wayne Rooney why he was not playing, when he will be playing next, what he expects and what he expects in the next game.
"That is what he has done in the past, that is what I expect he has done on this occasion.
"That is how he keeps the squad happy and everybody on board.
"Everybody has to play, they have many big games. Wayne Rooney will be a big player for Manchester United to come."
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- Wayne Rooney
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