There’s been a lot of u-turning going on in Manchester over the last few days as Rooney, Manchester United and even City fans have done the sort of about face you’d associate with Nick Clegg. First Rooney was on his way, cue loads of United fans-myself included- trying to act as though it’s not such a bad thing after all.
“He’s overrated, he’s a flat-track bully, he’s not been playing well for months anyway, he’s not scored a screamer in years, with the money we’ll get we can rebuild half the team, he’s only had one prolific season, he’s scouse.” The Red and White Army propaganda machine went into overdrive as fans fearing the worst tried to downplay the consequences of Rooney’s imminent departure.
It seems last season’s top scorer and a player who only a week ago was revered as United’s talisman and one destined to join the holy ranks of the likes of George Best, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona, as a true United legend, would actually be doing United a massive favour by leaving at the earliest juncture, to give the Reds the maximum profit and allow Dimitar Berbatov and Paul Scholes to carry on leading the team.
Then there were the other more militant factions in the camp who simply decided that Rooney wasn’t going anywhere despite what he or his agent, the lovable Paul Stretford, thought. Action not words were needed and the time for persuasion had gone, so a small squad of highly-trained shouters were dispatched to Rooney’s headquarters to issue some late night threats before war was finally declared.
Meanwhile City fans were rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of Rooney crossing the Manchester no man’s land and planting his flag in Mancini’s trench- figuratively speaking of course.
Now of course, City fans didn’t want him, United fans still love him- although more than a few are still expecting a real apology and more importantly Sir Alex Ferguson seems to have forgiven him, so hopefully the whole sorry saga can be forgotten about fairly swiftly.
Had Rooney left would it really have been that bad for United? Well the answer is obviously a resounding ‘yes!’ regardless whether his destination was Eastlands or anywhere else.
United with or without Rooney, will survive of that there is no doubt. United have survived the worst disaster imaginable only to come back stronger. United have gone over a quarter of a century without a title only to win 11 in 18 years and have seen countless players leave for ‘greener pastures’- possibly with cows in them- only to cast an envious eye over at Old Trafford as their former colleagues go from triumph to triumph.
I know as a United fan it may seem easy to sit here and now wax lyrical of Rooney’s greatness, but I said the same thing in my article two days ago on this very site- Rooney leaving would be a disaster.
Manchester United will always be one of the world’s biggest clubs, without or without Wayne Rooney. However my problem wasn’t for the long-term prospects of the club as a whole- although I like every other United fan have more than a concern about the Glazer situation, my worry was could United afford to lose their best player and still challenge in the short-term? If Rooney left then United wouldn’t have been just missing a player who’s gone from unsung selfless grafter in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo to prolific leader over the space of 12 months, they’d be losing one of the few true superstars in world football.
It’s easy to use Rooney’s form as an excuse for him not being missed but as is often said ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ and Rooney will without a doubt come out of the barren spell he’s wallowing in, with venom, sooner or later.
Last season United missed out on the Premier League title by two points- okay it was one and goal difference but you know what I mean- and had Rooney stayed fit towards the end, then the title would no doubt have been staying at Old Trafford.
Ditto the Champion’s League, if it wasn’t for the injury Rooney picked up in Munich, it’s safe to say United would have been facing Internazionale in the final, after all the semi’s against Lyon would hardly have been a major task. Rooney was immense last season and actually improved on the superb player he’d been in the previous two seasons. There’s no reason why once he gets over the poor form and lack of full fitness that’s been dogging him since that seminal night in Munich, that Rooney can’t go on to get even better. After all at only 24 years of age he’s five years away from his peak and there is no end to just how good he could become.
In the past when big players have left such Paul Ince, Mark Hughes, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, David Beckham, and Kleberson, United have simply found new ones to replace them usually through the youth system or the young signings. I think the same could definitely happen again if Rooney left. Kiko Macheda, Chicharito and Danny Welbeck could all have bright futures at United but I can’t see them leading a title charge for at least another two seasons.
The worrying thing about Rooney leaving was that, Fergie may only have three or four seasons left in him at United and if this is a similar situation to 2003/04 where the rebuilding process began and took three years, then by the time it’s done he may be ready to retire. Call me a sceptic but I think there’s far too much dead weight in the United squad at the moment- I’ll leave the names for another blog, and losing Rooney may have been the start of a massive overhaul that could have taken a while.
Let’s not forget that three of United’s most experienced and important players are not going to be around in two season’s time. Rooney is the type of player you can build a team around and despite the money United may have got for him, who could they buy that’s in a similar class?
United will go on whether Rooney’s leading the attack or someone else, but there’s no doubt that with him in the team the future looks a hell of a lot brighter.