Sir Alex Ferguson surprisingly confirmed following Sunday's 2-1 win over Swansea that Rooney had asked for a transfer. He explained it was the reason why the 27-year-old had been left out entirely from his squad for the Old Trafford encounter, declaring Rooney needed to get his head right and that he would not be sold.
Mark Lawrenson told the BBC's Match of the Day 2: "You would be reluctant to sell a player of his ability but Rooney should speak to (Paul) Scholes and (Ryan) Giggs and think about what he wants to do. Why would you want to leave a football club like that?"
With two years remaining on his present contract, there is a commercial reason to sanction Rooney's sale if it is felt he would not extend his time with the Red Devils, with his price tag set to plummet if his current deal ran down by another 12 months.
Lawrenson feels certain Ferguson would have jettisoned Rooney this summer had be been remaining at Old Trafford. Soon-to-be Manchester United manager David Moyes may have an alternative view, although the feeling persists that the change in attitude must come from the player.
Ferguson feels Rooney's discontent stems from being left out of the Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, and the generally minor role he has played in United's run-in. He has completed just one full game - against Stoke - out of United's last nine and has not scored since netting his 16th of the season against Reading on March 16.
Although he has started more matches overall than both Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck, following Robin van Persie's arrival last summer, it is clear he is no longer as central a figure as he was when he publicly asked for a transfer in 2010 and questioned the club's ambition.
Whether Moyes sees the situation in quite the same way is open to interpretation. However, as Rooney's performance levels have dipped, Ferguson has had no hesitation in reducing his role. "He is not happy at being taken off but Wayne in top form would not be taken off," said Ferguson.
Rooney is no longer a favourite of the Red Devils support and was booed by some as he went to collect his fifth title winners' medal. Now, with United's hierarchy deciding whether they are to mark Moyes' arrival with a marquee signing such as Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale, Rooney's influence could be diminished even further.
"He is a talisman-type figure but it will be interesting to see who they buy and whether Rooney continues to be key for them," Cardiff manager Malky Mackay also told Match of the Day 2. "But if I was him I would think long and hard about leaving before I left."
- Sports & Recreation
- Sir Alex Ferguson
- Mark Lawrenson