There is consolation for Manchester United’s botched summer of business. Wayne Rooney is still a United player, despite a saga, stretching all the way to the curtain call of Alex Ferguson’s managerial career, indicating that a move was imminent.
It’s in fans’ nature to forgive and forget. Who needs loyalty and all that when you can say with plenty of certainty that you’re safe on the transfer front for at least another year? Rooney’s name was sung by the United support against Chelsea, and funnily by the Chelsea fans too, offering a prelude to the warm welcome he would have received had he made the switch to Stamford Bridge.
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But for United as whole, Rooney has a lot of making up to do. Despite the fact that the club have held onto one of their best players and certainly one of the leading names in the Premier League, Rooney is still a striker who goes through dry spells in front of goal, who’s inconsistency means he’s never been able to sit at the head table of the world’s finest alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. On paper, this United team are not as strong as their closest title rivals in Chelsea and Manchester City. If David Moyes is to capture the Premier League title in his first season as United boss, he’s going to need far more from Rooney than just a quiet acceptance of an extended stay at Old Trafford.
The figure Rooney cut at Swansea was one of a player who seemed destined for the exit door. There are two types, of course. A number of Real Madrid players, for example, looked destined for a move but nevertheless tried to talk up their value to the club in order to cancel any impending transfer plans. Rooney, on the other hand, and based on reports that suggest he’s far from settled in the dressing room, has been adding logs to the fire to create the idea that his departure would be a positive for the club as much as it would be for him.
Loyalty doesn’t come in the form of contract extensions and promises to the media; Thiago Silva left AC Milan for PSG only weeks after signing a new contract with the Italian club. And such is the way of the modern game, the integrity of a contract can be as weak as United’s transfer activity this summer. Instead, Rooney needs to put forward big performances and a believable front that he wants to remain at Old Trafford. The transfer window is closed, and this matter, at least seriously, won’t be brought up for another 10 months.
Under David Moyes, Rooney may also be offered a permanent place in the front line, rather than moving about the midfield to either accommodate for others or make up for a loss of personnel. His reluctance may not be too evident, but it’s hugely unlikely that a striker would be happy to move further away from the goal, especially during his peak years.
Rooney is far from a liability following the recent transfer affair, but United will also be aware of the image they’ll portray after talking up their desire to hold onto the player. We assumed that any ill feeling had been swept under the carpet against Chelsea, likely to emerge closer to the deadline. But if there is genuine weight in Moyes’ stance on retaining Rooney and the positive working relationship, the player, regardless of disappointments, needs to play his part.
Does Rooney have to make it up to Man United this season following the recent transfer saga?
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