• Supporters Trust chief executive says manager got it right
• Allowing striker to go would 'probably be the right decision'
Wayne Rooney is no longer regarded as an integral part of Manchester United's future by influential supporters' groups, who believe Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to leave him on the bench against Real Madrid was justified.
Rooney's future has come under intense speculation after Ferguson omitted the forward from his starting XI for United's last-16 Champions League defeat on Tuesday. Paris Saint-Germain, Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City have all been linked with a move for the striker, although his reputed £300,000-a-week salary could prove a stumbling block in any potential negotiations.
Duncan Drasdo, the chief executive of the Manchester United Supporters' Trust, said he would back the manager if Ferguson did decide to sell Rooney in the summer. "Everyone recognises Rooney's talent, although perhaps there is some frustration that he hasn't quite pushed on and developed in the way people may have thought he was going to," he said.
"We always back Sir Alex Ferguson's judgment in the end and, if he did decide to let him go, then that's probably the right decision in the best interest of the club.
"It was such a big match for Ferguson – it could be his last season for all we know. I don't think he would have picked a side for any other reason than it was the best side that might get the best result.
"It's crazy to think that he would snub a player by not playing him in a match like that. In the cases of Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jaap Stam and David Beckham it was more difficult to see the tactical argument for dropping them but I think people could see it in this case. As supporters, though, I don't think many would like to see Rooney go."
Barney Chilton, editor of the Red News fanzine, also supported Ferguson's decision-making and questioned Rooney's form. "For parts of his career if Rooney didn't perform, United didn't – and this season that has changed," he said. "The dynamics changed in one swoop for Robin van Persie – Rooney was no longer the player we overly relied on.
"It feels like history is repeating itself, minus a boot scar, with David Beckham – eliminated by Madrid and intense speculation. Rooney's form has been of concern – especially his passing – and while I would have hoped for more stardust by now he can still turn a game United's way.
"There have been concerns over match fitness for some time now and it could be argued that missing Blackburn last season [when Rooney was dropped following an alleged night out] was crucial to how the season ended. So this could be brinkmanship as he's given another chance to get properly sorted."
Beckham was left out by Ferguson for a Champions League game against Real Madrid in 2003 and left the club shortly afterwards while Van Nistelrooy was not selected for the 2006 League Cup final and departed the following summer.
Rooney made an explosive start to his United career in 2004 but has arguably not fulfilled his potential since. Parallels have been made to the situations involving Beckham, Van Nistelrooy and Jaap Stam, following Rooney's contract demands in 2010 that resulted in a climb-down from the club and a lucrative new deal for the player.
John-Paul O'Neill, a contributor for the Red Issue fanzine, said he believed the 2010 transfer request had contributed to a loss of faith in Rooney among supporters.
"In 2009, when Ronaldo left, a lot of United fans thought Rooney would kick on and become one of the best players in the world. But he's never hit that level," he said. "His stock with United fans has definitely plummeted since he put that transfer request in back in October 2010. His relationship with Ferguson has been an ongoing issue ever since.
"I think the performance showed that Ferguson was right to drop him. Until the sending-off the performance and tactics were spot-on. Maybe he's gone a bit stale and a move would do him good."