In the dark days of summer discontent as Wayne Rooney once again glanced towards Old Trafford’s exit, David Moyes made his opening pitch as Manchester United manager.
Moyes was sitting in the famous stadium’s Europa Suite fending off questions about Rooney’s future with the same dexterity and determination as he was fighting off offers from Chelsea for a player enduring his latest bout of dissatisfaction with life at United.
The Scot met every question and every bid from Chelsea with the same answer. “Not for sale” – especially not to Jose Mourinho and Chelsea.
And to emphasise his point, Moyes revealed he had made it clear to Rooney that the greatest opportunity to leave a legacy that would last a lifetime lay at Old Trafford not Stamford Bridge. It was the opportunity to become a Manchester United legend.
The rationale behind United’s hard-line stance on Rooney was demonstrated in 83 minutes at Old Trafford on Tuesday as Moyes enjoyed a successful entry into the Champions League group stage with a fine 4-2 win against Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen.
Rooney not only gave the sort of display that Moyes and United could use as compelling evidence to support their case for the refusal to countenance his departure, he also took a significant stride towards that place in Old Trafford history that his manager said could be his prize for staying.
His second goal, a clever finish at the near post, was his 200th goal for United since his move from Everton in summer 2004. In that moment he became only the fourth man to reach that milestone, a feat achieved in 406 appearances.
Jack Rowley’s 211 will be his next target followed by the 237 scored by the great Denis Law – with the pinnacle being the possibility of overtaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s current club record of 249.