x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Liverpool's Luis Suarez should stay

Footballers all over the world dream of playing up front for Manchester United or Liverpool, except, it seems, the two who actually play up front for them.

Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney is one of team's best players and they'll miss him if he goes. Andrew Yates / AFP
Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney is one of team's best players and they'll miss him if he goes. Andrew Yates / AFP

Manchester United players were celebrating the 20th league title and I was encouraged to go to the Old Trafford dressing room. Given his problems with Sir Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney could have been forgiven for cutting the celebrations short, making his excuses and going home. My old manager had told television that Wayne asked for a transfer – which Wayne disputed – an announcement which didn't go down well with fans.

The pair didn't see eye to eye and didn't agree. On exactly what I don't know, but there are two sides to every story. All I know is that Wayne wasn't happy at the end of last season.

It was the calm at the eye of the storm, Wayne was sitting in the dressing room and we talked. He told me that he would have loved to have played with me. It a bit of flattery – but I would have loved to have played with him. We would have done a bit of damage to defenders, though (Dwight) Yorke might have got a bit jealous. Few sportsmen look back, but it was good to do it then.

I like Wayne and get on with him. He's a great player and a decent lad, with a sharp Scouse wit similar to Robbie Fowler's.

Wayne is not happy and has let it be known – or, rather, his people have – that he wants to leave. I'm not convinced it's a good idea to leave United at such a young age and it's nothing to do with him being close to Sir Bobby Charlton's club scoring record.

Players, from my experience, don't think about records. It seems to me that he's fallen out of love with United after nearly a decade there, a decade when he's been largely idolised by fans.

That happens in life, in relationships at work or with other people. Sometimes people want a change, they say 'enough's enough' and nothing will change their mind. They fancy a fresh challenge.

I did. Like him, I was a striker at United. I got to the stage where I wanted to leave because I wanted to play more minutes. Ruud van Nistelrooy had joined and he was considered the main striker in a new formation. I was prepared to knuckle down, but I wasn't happy with my limited number of games. I told Sir Alex Ferguson that I wanted to leave. He told me that he wanted me to stay, but respected my decision to go. I left for Blackburn and later regretted it.

I hope Rooney doesn't leave and United are adamant that he won't, but, if he does, I hope that he doesn't regret it, as I did. And I can't fully understand why he wants to leave. If he's fallen out with Ferguson, why is that an issue now he's left? Or is it his relationship with David Moyes – the new boss who impressed me hugely on the pre-season when I spoke to him?

Rooney is one of United's best players and they'll miss him if he goes. He didn't have his best season in 2012/13, but allow him one less-than-spectacular season in nine. And allow him to make a decision himself, as he has done in the past. He might be advised by my former agent, Paul Stretford, but Wayne has made big decisions, he's not stupid and he knows what he wants.

Luis Suarez has a different problem, but it's also puzzling and, like United, Liverpool are unwilling to sell their striker. If he really wanted to leave Liverpool, why did he sign a new long-term contract a year ago?

I can understand why Suarez is having second thoughts. Top players want to play in the Champions League, it's that simple. But why sign? Liverpool are not even in the Europa League this season.

He's now being asked to apologise. And if he doesn't, which I don't expect him to, are Liverpool not going to pick him and deprive their side of their main source of goals once the final six games of his ban have finished?

Suarez has been accused of not being loyal, but is anyone loyal in football? Do clubs stay loyal to players who are not playing well or do they try and get rid of them?

So we have a situation going into the new season where England's biggest two clubs have forwards who both want to leave, but whose clubs are refusing to sell. Footballers all over the world dream of playing up front for Manchester United or Liverpool, except, it seems, two who actually play up front for them. But, neither United nor Liverpool want to watch their game-changers knocking goals in for their major domestic rivals – as Arsenal did with Robin Van Persie all last season.

Andrew Cole's column is written with the assistance of European football correspondent Andy Mitten

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