Wayne Rooney, do fans care if he leaves?
When Manchester United shelled out £25.6million to bring an 18 year old Wayne Rooney from Everton to the club there was mass excitement. That goal against Arsenal, those explosive performances in Euro 2004 and then a hat trick on his debut left us fans thinking we’d got a gem of a player, a player who will become the best in the world.
Fast forward 9 years and we’re left with the feeling of unfulfillment. The spark, the explosiveness, the excitement is all gone. We’re left with a player who only functions. We’re left with a player who hasn’t really ‘done it’ with the burden of being the main man, both for Manchester United and for England.
The downwards trajectory of Wayne Rooney both in terms of performances and popularity began in the 2009/10 season after he was injured in the 2nd leg quarter final against Bayern Munich. Up to that point in March he had scored 36 goals, with almost a whole 2 months left of the season. That was Wayne Rooney at the peak of his career, a peak he has not reached since. Underwhelming performances followed; A horrendous world cup, a transfer request (or 2 now), many instances of poor first touches, a poor European Championship, a distinct reduction in pace as well as good many occasions where he looked physically unfit and out of shape.
For me, his fitness is a constant irritation. Whilst out of shape he’s been sent to Nike headquarters in USA, he’s been dropped, he’s been persevered with. Nothing quite seems to work. He’s gone through spells where he’s looked sharper but the fitness issues occur far too often. It’s downright unprofessional that Rooney can’t keep himself physically sharp enough to play football at a level that his wage packet requires.
Despite still being in his first major slump after barely scoring a goal since March of that year and having a poor World Cup, when rumours broke of Rooney’s first transfer request I was pretty disappointed. Only the previous season we had seen what Rooney could do at his consistent best. It wasn’t so long ago that I’d think he couldn’t get back to that level again.
Would Rooney really have gone to Man City? Or was he doing it to eek out money from the club? It’s a matter of opinion I guess but it’s probably a bit of both. He intimated he wanted to leave Man Utd. He was linked with £60million moves to Man City and to other clubs in Europe but in the chaos he eventually got his £200k-£250k a week contract. At the time, the performances he had put in the season before, it was unthinkable to lose him, especially to a divisional rival.
Last summer, we signed Robin Van Persie, Arsenal’s former talisman and captain. The man has the talent, the man puts in the performances that justifies his transfer fee and what he’s paid. Every time he opens his mouth to the media he says the things that makes every United fan swoon at him. You can tell he loves being a Manchester United player. He behaves like a United player should, he conducts himself in the way you’d hope Wayne Rooney would.
The thought of letting go of Rooney now doesn’t seem too bad. He questioned the ambition of the club and ironically the ambition we showed has now made him less relevant. He isn’t an automatic starter in his own position. He was left out of the 1st leg against Real Madrid, the biggest game of the season at the time. The indispensability of Wayne Rooney had gone. The effect that certain tactics would have in that game was deemed to be greater than the effect Wayne Rooney could have by Sir Alex Ferguson – this being the greatest statement of Rooney’s current status at Manchester United.
Nowadays the pile of cash that one would need to prise Rooney away from Manchester United seems to have dropped to £25million. On the surface it appears that his agent has touted his client around to the very best clubs in Europe and they’ve replied with what appears to be a ‘no thanks.’ Unlike in 2010 when United had to yield to Rooney’s demands, we are now in the position of power. It will be interesting to see how the saga unfolds.
For so long, Man Utd have not sold anyone of any talent to a divisional rival. Juan Veron seems to be the only real exception when he was sold to Chelsea, though his impact at Chelsea was still much less than it was at Man Utd. I’d expect this trend to continue if we were to sell Rooney. Having said that he’s been linked with Arsenal lately. I could probably live with him being sold to them. Maybe a few trophyless years will make him appreciate what he had at United?
If he was to stay, however, is there a way back for Rooney with the United fans? Though he was never my most favourite player I’ve always been glad we’ve had Wayne Rooney in our team. Despite poor form he’s still been quite productive in terms of goals and assists. He’s a useful player to still have around but I suspect the love many fans had for Wayne Rooney is lost. Here we have a player whose performances have generally declined in recent years and a player whose 2 transfer requests indicate that he doesn’t really want to be at United. Should we fans care about Wayne Rooney any more? I know I don’t.
What do you think on the Wayne Rooney saga?