Hands up who could have seen this coming. Anyone? Thought as much. Not since the days of one David Beckham have the red half of Manchester been faced with a transfer dilemma as daunting as this. A lousy World Cup, a troublesome ankle injury, a few appearances from the bench and suddenly it’s over. Rooney off to pit his wits (if there are any) elsewhere. Is it me or does something seem to be missing? The surfacing revelations about his private life appear to have knocked him far from his usual Shrek-like figure into a more Puss in Boots role when on the field. Moreover, United’s unambitious summer in the transfer market may well have been noticed when compared to their rivals at City. It must have taken something fairly serious to tell the ‘nice guy’ of football, Sir Alex Ferguson, that you have had enough.
Ferguson’s bemused reaction to the story reflects what most of the country were thinking. The logical reasons of leaving the biggest and perhaps the best club in English football seem to be minimal at most. But maybe we’re doing Wayne a discredit. A new challenge, possibly in Spain, could be exactly what he needs to regain his magic touch. As we know Beckham left, and it hasn’t fared him too bad on the footballing or the money side. Saying this I think it will be many years till Rooney goes in search for his millions in America. In the already infamous six and a half minute interview Ferguson gave last Tuesday, he reiterated several times that, ‘the door is still open’ as ‘he is such a good player’. He also said that he hoped Rooney would, ‘honour and respect the club’s position’. For all Rooney’s short comings, I think even he knows that professionalism is the key in this situation.
Another topic which was brought up was that of the fabled ankle injury which Ferguson once again confirmed. After claiming the injury was the main reason behind his lack of form, he was contradicted last week by Rooney himself who spoke out saying he was fit and ready to play. Capello stated that Rooney seemed to be training perfectly in the wake of England’s game against Montenegro. However, Ferguson seems to have had the last laugh as Rooney was seen stretched off the United training ground on Tuesday with, of course, an ankle injury.
Having lost Ronaldo to Real Madrid inevitably only the summer before last it is a given Ferguson will do everything in his power to keep Rooney from leaving. A well publicised shortage of money at the club doesn’t necessarily mean selling all their best players, especially as Man United’s strike force is without Ronaldo and of course Tevez, who were both instrumental in their most recent European success. Rooney has cited a lack of depth in the squad and insufficient assurances on future purchases to be behind his decision. Looking at Ferguson’s summer intake it could be hard to blame him. Fresh signings Chris Smalling, Javier Hernandez and Tiago Bebe were all relatively unheard of and as of yet have failed to live up to the money spent. But Ferguson’s tenacious attitude and stubborn persistence (for example he still refuses to talk to the BBC) means that in Rooney’s case at least, he will never give up.
Changing tact, it would also be relevant to consider the money side of the affair in more detail. Rooney’s current wages are believed to be around the £90,000 a week mark, but this is about half of what City’s Yaya Toure is supposed to be earning; something in the £200,000 region. Even if Rooney, as is widely thought, wants an increase in money, it is strange to think United wouldn’t be able to give him what he wished. Ferguson in the interview said specifically that David Gill, the club’s Chief Executive, was willing to provide a deal which was impossible to turn down. This is unless there were other undermining problems. If we accept that Rooney will leave, the best time for United to sell him would be in January, with still a year and a half left on his existing deal. And with Ronaldo having left for £80 million, could it be that United may have the two most expensive transfer sales in history sometime soon? Their figures announced in October show a record loss of £83.6 million which in most people’s minds would be the catalyst for more sales to help the bank out. Getting rid of Rooney may well re-coop much of this needed cash.
Speculation about Wayne and Coleen Rooney’s private life has been splashing around for years. It doesn’t help if you are videoed by CCTV visiting a back street brothel to be perfectly honest. After admitting paying for sex once well before getting married, it was released by the News of the World recently that he repeated this vice even when his wife was pregnant. Due to this behaviour he was also dropped from a Coca Cola campaign with a statement released saying they, ‘did not feel it was appropriate’ to use Wayne Rooney for their promotion. Such undesired publicity just after England’s humiliatingly failure in South Africa may easily be accountable for Rooney’s determined stance to turn over a new leaf. The problem for him now is that wherever he goes, stories, whether fact or fiction, will follow.
So taking everything into account, if there were any moment in Rooney’s career to move on it would be now. With Chelsea, Man City, Milan and Madrid all waiting in the wings, the money he feels he deserves may not be too far away. But this is a clear case of mercenary against loyalty. If he does make a u-turn in his decision then he may well recover some of the respect that is quickly slipping away. Ferguson wants to keep him; the fans want to keep him; English football wants to keep him. Maybe, when he realises this, and is given the assurances he craves, Wayne Rooney will stay as a United player.