New era begins at United

David Moyes clocks in for duty at Manchester United with the future of striker Wayne Rooney top of his priority list.

    New era begins at United
    Rooney handed in a transfer request last season after frustration at his game time [Reuters]

    As a new era began at Manchester United on Monday, a lingering problem from the final days of Alex Ferguson's trophy-laden tenure was casting a shadow over David Moyes' first official day in charge of the English champions.

    Nearly two months after being hired as successor to Ferguson, Moyes was met by a row of photographers under gray skies when he arrived at United's training ground to start his planning ahead of the new season.

    Moyes has already put his stamp on the new role, bringing in three coaches from former club Everton to join his backroom staff, but it's the future of Wayne Rooney that will be the Scot's biggest priority this week.

    Speculation over where the England striker will be playing next season has been dominating the sports pages in British newspapers this offseason - and will continue to do so until he sits down with Moyes and the pair decide where Rooney's future lies.

    Transfer request

    Rooney, who isn't due in for the first day of training until Wednesday or Thursday, sat out the final matches of Ferguson's 26-year tenure after putting in a transfer request because he was frustrated at being substituted in some matches last season, notably the Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid.

    Arsenal, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have been heavily linked with the burly striker, even though Ferguson insisted before he ended his time at United that Rooney wouldn't be leaving.

    The situation is even more delicate because it was Moyes who sold Rooney to United back in 2004, when manager of Everton, and then launched successful legal action against the striker over allegations in Rooney's autobiography that the Scot leaked details of a private conversation to the media about the factors behind the move from Everton.

    The pair's relationship has improved since then, but Moyes has to decide whether to persevere with a player who has tested the patience and loyalty of United fans after putting in two transfer requests in 2 ½ years.

    If there is no official announcement regarding Rooney over the next week, the make-up of the United squad to tour the Far East from July 10 will make interesting reading.

    Life at United will be much different compared to Moyes' 11 years at Everton, where he was heralded as one of the brightest managers in English football despite never winning a major trophy. Silverware will be demanded at United in the first year of his six-year deal, with the northwest club having been accustomed to capturing titles under Ferguson.

    Moyes will also be under the spotlight much more off the pitch. United's global appeal was further underlined Monday when it added True Corporation Plc, one of Thailand's leading telecommunications companies, to its growing array of commercial sponsors on a three-year deal.

    True will become United's official mobile partner for Thailand, the club's official in-house TV broadcaster in the country and also be the associate match sponsor for the Bangkok leg of the preseason tour, when United plays Singha All Stars on July 13.

    Tough start

    Moyes will need his squad to be in perfect shape for the start of the new Premier League season, with United having been given a tough early fixture list that includes games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City in the opening five matches.

    Steve Round will be Moyes' assistant, replacing Mike Phelan, after being the Scot's No. 2 at Everton since July 2008.

    Former England international Chris Woods also arrives from Goodison Park to be goalkeeping coach and Jimmy Lumsden will be another coach on United's books.

    "I have worked with Steve, Chris and Jimmy for a number of years and I am delighted they have decided to join me at this great club,'' Moyes said.

    "They bring great qualities in their respective fields and I know that, like me, they feel that this is a challenge to relish.

    "I have great faith that, together, we can build upon the success this club has enjoyed over many years.''

    Ed Woodward, United's executive vice chairman, said: "This is an exciting and challenging time for the club and I have great belief that David and his team will have all the energy and attributes needed to help this club continue in its long-standing traditions.''



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