MANCHESTER - Wayne Rooney turned the spotlight firmly on Manchester United's American owners on Wednesday when the striker blamed the club's lack of clout in the transfer market for his desire to quit Old Trafford.
A day after manager Sir Alex Ferguson's candid news conference revealed that the 24-year-old wanted to leave, Rooney issued a statement explaining his reasons.
"I met (chief executive) David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad," the England striker said. "I then told him I would not be signing a new contract.
"For me it's all about winning trophies, as the club has always done under Sir Alex. Because of that I think the questions I was asking were justified."
Ferguson responded to Rooney's statement by saying he would meet Gill on Thursday morning in a bid to avoid the whole issue dragging on.
"David has spoken to the owners tonight which is important. What is really important is for us to put it to bed, we don't want it to become a saga," Ferguson told a news conference after United's 1-0 win over Bursaspor in the Champions League.
Like the deposed Tom Hicks and George Gillett at Liverpool, the Glazer family are deeply unpopular among United's hardcore fans who blame the huge debts the Americans have amassed to buy the club for the steady stream of top players leaving.
Cristiano Ronaldo was followed by Carlos Tevez and Ferguson's replacements have not been of the same calibre.
The only strikers the Scot has bought in the last couple of years are Michael Owen on a free transfer and the unproven Mexican Javier Hernandez.
United have a gross debt of 522 million pounds and fans have mounted an ongoing protest against the Glazers, citing a lack of investment in the squad and rising ticket prices.
A protest march is planned before United's home match against Tottenham Hotspur next week while the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) issued a statement after the Rooney bombshell was announced.
"The contrast could hardly be starker between the owners at Manchester City who are pumping millions into their club while the Glazers are leaching huge amounts out of ours," their statement said.
"People talk about players being greedy with multi-million pounds contracts but those figures pale into insignificance compared with the hundreds of millions the Glazers have extracted from Manchester United through their takeover."
Rooney's statement was loaded with praise for Ferguson despite reports of a fall-out between the pair.
"I know I will always owe Sir Alex Ferguson a huge debt. He is a great manager and mentor who has helped and supported me from the day he signed me from Everton when I was only 18," said the striker whose contract runs out in June 2012.
"For Manchester United's sake I wish he could go on forever because he's a one-off and a genius."
Rooney has scored only one goal for United this season, from the penalty spot, and his general form has been poor while allegations about his private life have filled the tabloid newspapers.
He also suffered a below-par World Cup in South Africa in June.
"I have never had anything but complete respect for MUFC," added Rooney in his statement.
"How could I not have done given its fantastic history and especially the last six years in which I have been lucky to play a part?"comments