Beginning of the end! Why Manchester United should prepare for life beyond Wayne Rooney
Already a week into the new season, it is clear that a decision must be made soon about Wayne Rooney’s future. David Moyes repeatedly insists that Rooney will not be sold, especially after the first game, where the gaffer hailed his performance saying the maverick star is “incredibly committed” to his job.
But does he really want to be at Manchester United? The fans’ boos from the Premiership victory parade will still be ringing in his ears and he will see his old nemesis Sir Alex Ferguson lurking in the shadows wherever he goes at Old Trafford. Also, his mysterious injuries have prevented him completing a full pre-season – despite starting for England against Scotland – and, together with the deafening silence about his future, he does not seem committed to the club. United fans might worry about losing such an influential player, particularly given the lack of significant transfer activity, but Rooney leaving is not the end of the world.
Do the Champions really need him?
United supporters have seen their best players sold before, albeit with the indomitable and unflinching Ferguson at the helm: Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy, David Beckham; even the superlative Cristiano Ronaldo have departed for pastures new. Yet the club adapted and reshaped its resources, powering seamlessly to more Premiership titles. Other players were drafted in or stepped up their game: Javier Hernandez took over the goal-scoring mantle in the 2010-2011 season, Michael Carrick was voted into this year’s PFA team of the year and Robin van Persie netted 26 times in the league last season.
Concerned United supporters might stress that Rooney was an intrinsic part of this success and that losing him would irreparably blunt their potency but the ever-shrewd Sir Alex signed Shinji Kagawa last summer to cover Rooney’s departure, with the writing on the wall for the England striker after he publicly questioned Ferguson’s ambition back in 2010. The skillful Japanese international had been on fire for Borussia Dortmund, forming a devastating partnership with Robert Lewandowski, prompting Ferguson to sign him in 2012 for £12m.
This season Kagawa will slot into Rooney’s number 10 role, becoming the main play-maker behind Van Persie. Whilst his contribution last season was muted, sidelined for several months with a twisted knee and getting used to the demands of the Premiership, Ferguson is on record stating that Kagawa “has fantastic composure on the ball and his decision making is good. There’s a physicality to our game which is different from Germany but next year he’ll be better.”
Moyes’ Minors will also dig in deep with Rooney gone
While the embittered Rooney was absent from United’s pre-season tour of Asia, David Moyes was quietly grooming a new batch of promising youngsters. Adnan Januzaj, Jesse Lingard and Wilfried Zaha have been a revelation in front of goal and, with Moyes a firm believer in giving youth a chance, they will be chomping at the bit to prove themselves to their new manager.
Nick Powell, signed last year after his play-off heroics with Crewe, is also an attacking midfielder full of goals and the youthful potential also includes the raw talent of Phil Jones, David De Gea and Jesse Lingard plus the exciting twins Will and Michael Keane.
Has Rooney played his last game for United?
With senior players Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs rumoured to be incensed by Rooney’s lack of loyalty to one of the biggest clubs in the world, the former Everton striker will not be welcomed into the dressing room and it will be in his best interests to leave United.
Chelsea, who have declared that he is their main transfer target of the summer and are backed by Roman Abramovich’s billions, are playing a waiting game with United as the Manchester club desperately search for a marquee signing to announce before they sell Rooney and appease the frustrated fans.
Some United supporters would rather keep Rooney than sell him to their Premiership rivals but he is clearly unhappy at the club and such a disruptive influence augers badly for team morale. Other United supporters believe that he is past his peak and, burnt out after years of poor dieting and cigarettes, argue that selling him for £30 million would be a shrewd deal.
Wayne Rooney needs to be loved and supported, to be the main striker at the head of a new team that will re-energise him and turn him into the devastating goal machine that we all admire. A move away from Old Trafford is essential for Rooney’s career and the future success of England’s national team as they desperately seek to qualify for the World Cup in 2014. After all, who else do we have?