Wayne Rooney has been sent to America to continue his comeback from injury and escape the furore of the heated Manchester derby build-up.
Rooney, a transfer target for Manchester City last month after he declared United no longer matched his ambition, has been packed off by Sir Alex Ferguson, who has once again asserted his authority over the struggling England forward.
The 25-year-old flies to a state-of-the- art fitness centre in Portland today and will spend the next seven days honing his physical condition to the level demanded by his manager, who completes 24 years in charge at Old Trafford today.
Portland, in Oregon, claims to have more strip clubs per capita than any other major city in the United States, though they are unlikely to figure on the itinerary for Rooney after Ferguson handpicked a team of fitness experts to escort him to the West Coast.
The Scot made it clear he expects Rooney to be ready for an instant recall on his return. Ferguson, whose side face Wolves today and City on Wednesday, has booked Rooney on a 10-hour flight to the far north-west corner of America, rather than let the striker complete his return to fitness at United’s equally well-equipped training complex at Carrington.
A virus kept Ferguson away from United’s training complex yesterday, but assistant manager Mike Phelan left little doubt that the player’s trip to Nike’s world headquarters was another example of Rooney being brought into line.
While his recent excursion to Dubai was designed to smooth over any marital difficulties, following reports of off-field indiscretions, this time he will be leaving family members back at home.
‘It’s a week’s intensive conditioning, under the supervision of our medical team and sports science department,’ said Phelan.