Manchester United boss David Moyes has revealed how he challenged Wayne Rooney to show him that he hadn't gone 'soft' - by signing a new deal at Old Trafford and helping the club in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era.
Rooney put pen to paper on a brand new five-and-a-half-year deal worth a reported £300,000-per-week that will keep him at Old Trafford until 2019.
The news is a major boost for Moyes and Manchester United, who are looking to rebuild following the retirement of Ferguson at the end of last season.
The Red Devils have struggled on the pitch this season, and currently sit in 7th place, 11 points off qualifiaction for the Champions League.
Moyes will hope that Rooney will be central to that process after commiting his future to the club, and has now revealed some of the details from behind the scenes that led to the striker signing on the dotted line.
"I said to Wayne that I wanted him to stay before I’d actually come in here. I’d met Wayne privately a couple of times to talk about his situation, to try to understand," he said.
‘He came up to my house and I said to him, “if you ask me what’s missing I think you’ve gone a bit soft”. I thought he hadn’t been the hard-working, aggressive player he was. I needed to try to get him back to that level.
"When he came into the team I felt as though he nearly had to re-invent himself again. Go back to being the old Wayne Rooney, fighting for everything that’s there but with the technical ability of a top player.
"I think he’s done that. He’s back, he’s showing leadership qualities and he’s shown exactly what it is to play for Manchester United.
"I’ve heard people saying he wouldn’t be here at different times but, as you know, football deals don’t get done quickly now. I’ve probably known for three or four months that this would probably happen. In fact, I’ve felt it since August."
With Rooney on board alongside club record buy Juan Mata, who arrived at Manchester United in January, Moyes will hope he is laying the foundations for more success in the future.
The striker, who joined the Red Devils from Everton back in 2004 and is currently 4th in the club's all-time top scorer's list, says he is delighted to have the chance to help Manchester United restablish their dominance in the Premier League and beyond.
"There was a lot of speculation in the summer but I was pleased when David Moyes came in to the club," said the 28-year-old.
"I’ve got a great relationship with him and he’s shown a lot of trust and faith in me. Talks have been ongoing for a long time – I’m delighted to be signed up now.
"This is one of the biggest clubs in the world and to know that I will be playing here for the majority of my career is something that I’m looking forward to. I’m happy that everything is now finalised and I can carry on concentrating on my football.
"I’ve been here since I was 18 and this contract will take me through to my thirties, which is almost my entire professional career. I’ve played most of my best football here and am looking forward to hopefully playing even better football in the next few years.’
He added: "It’s not a massive concern for me. This is because I know the direction that this club is going in, and if we don’t make it this season then we will come back stronger and claim a Champions League spot next season.
"The future is bright for Manchester United. This is still one of the world's leading clubs, and we have seen this with the signing of Juan Mata.
"People have been saying that we may have trouble attracting the world’s best players but I think the fact Mata came here shows this isn’t true.
"This is a new era for the club. We have a new management team and a great new manager in David Moyes – there has to be some time for change.
"We have some great players here and despite our recent form everyone has stuck together and the team spirit is still good. We will continue to work hard and get Manchester United to the top where it belongs."
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