In the furore over the sending off of Nani an last night’s controversial Champions League match at Old Trafford, the fact that Wayne Rooney did not start the match seems to have gone under the radar!

Asked after the match, Mike Phelan, assistant manager at Manchester United, said that Rooney’s exclusion was merely tactical. However, he has played in all of Manchester United`s important matches since his move to Old Trafford from Everton a few years ago. In the past, his name was always first on the list, and the thought of playing such an important match without Wayne Rooney starting seemed impossible.

All of this has added to speculation that Sir Alex has grown weary of Rooney’s seemingly constant battle for fitness. The manager has finally run out of patience with Rooney after a number of lack lustre performances which, on a couple of occasions, have led to him being substituted. With the incoming Van Persie, being paraded by Sir Alex as his number one striker and Danny Welbeck putting in more mature performances, maybe it is time for Wayne to ante-up.

Rooney has not put in a commanding performance in a big match for a long time now, so maybe Sir Alex is looking at cashing in on him. It is not as ridiculous as it may at first appear. Sir Alex has not shied away from selling players who have been at the top, if he feels that they are waning. Of course, the other interesting side issue is that of Ronaldo. He again gave a rather ambiguous response when asked if he would return to Old Trafford, sparking speculation that he may be heading out of Real when Mourinho leaves at the end of the season.

An interesting proposition would be some kind of swap with Real Madrid, who has coveted Rooney for some years. It would mean that United would not have to spend any real cash to finance a Ronaldo swap deal and would allow them to offer him a similar wage to that which he already enjoys at Real Madrid.

Watch this space, as I have my Manchester United sources hunting down any suggestion that there is a deal afoot.