Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Rooney Saga - From the eyes of a Man United fan

Wayne Rooney was a Man United hero that may have turned into a pantomime villain in the space of a few months. Rooney has been a great servant to Manchester United football club, creating more than 100 assists, and is almost Man United’s all time highest goalscorer with 197 goals to his name. He had the potential of being a United legend, until in 2010 (because of a ‘lack of quality signings’), Rooney tarnished his reputation by handing in a transfer request. Some still haven’t forgiven him for that…however Sir Alex performed a Houdini act and made him perform the biggest transfer U-turn of all time – an act which saved face and made many United fans forgive Rooney for wanting out. 

From 2010-2013, Rooney has had a roller-coaster ride, being mediocre at times for a player of his class and talent. Until May 2013, many United fans were still supportive of Wayne Rooney despite inconsistent form.  But the moment Sir Alex said that Wayne Rooney handed in a transfer request again (in one his last interviews as United manager) – that for me was the point of no return. I felt that was the earth-shattering moment for Rooney’s Man United career.  I believe that even the most loyal of Rooney fans would struggle to ever see him in the same vain ever again. One transfer request was hard to stomach, but a supposedly second transfer request felt like a real killer blow to United supporters.

I know it’s just speculation that he indeed handed in another transfer request, but if you see his final performances of the 2012/3 season, it was quite obvious that something was not right. He was playing without that vigor, enthusiasm we all know he is capable of.  For me it was evident that is heart is not with Man United anymore. Of course it’s not impossible that he will perform another U-turn of epic proportions and be happy at Old Trafford. However, ever since the end of the 2012/3 season, Rooney hasn’t said a word – the silence speaks volumes in my opinion. Bale is a very similar case.  He remains deadly silent after an alleged Real Madrid world record £85m bid.  Rooney could quite easily speak to the press, like Cesc Fabregas, and reaffirm his love for the club and quash transfer rumours.  Or be like Suarez and say he wants to leave full stop.  However the silence suggests Wayne Rooney is playing it safe for me.  So if he wasn’t sold he’d just about manage to handle another season playing at Old Trafford without losing face further.

If one did a survey among United fans and asked how many think Rooney wants to leave, I think an overwhelming majority would say he wants out. With top quality strikers being sold this summer (i.e. Cavani, Falcao, Neymar, etc.) there does not seem to be many world class strikers that MUFC could buy to replace Rooney. This therefore means that selling him would be a mistake unless he can be replaced at short notice.  In my eyes there is only one man that can replace Wayne Rooney and that is ex-United hero Cristiano Ronaldo. Of course it would take a gigantic effort to reel him in from Real.  But if we have the “Unlimited budget” like Moyes claimed, a return home for CR7 may not be too far-fetched an idea. 

Many players leave Man United and remain United legends i.e Beckham, Ronaldo etc however this prolonged saga is continuously frustrating United fans and I fear that Rooney whatever he does will not be considered a United legend after this farce of a saga. The irony is that Wayne wanted to leave in 2010 due to a lack of quality signings.  In 2013 he is being overshadowed by United's quality signing - Robin Van Persie. Many fans may say they want to keep Rooney at OT but I think that is more out of desperation to keep a world class player rather than keep a player they still love and admire.

I personally think Rooney has to go. I think we must not sell to Chelsea though, because I strongly feel selling Rooney to a title-chasing rival like Chelsea is selling the title to them for £30-40m. We have first-hand evidence in the form of Robin Van Persie what happens when a Premier League club sells to another competitor – that transfer was the transfer that bagged the 20th League title for Manchester United. Hence we must sell abroad, i.e. Real Madrid need a striker after selling Higuain and Callejon, Dortmund are going to sell Lewandowski and may need a striker etc. We have to wait for a big European team to come in for Rooney. I’d rather we sell to a foreign team for £25m than to Chelsea for £40m. If a foreign team doesn’t come in for Rooney then I guess we may have to try and keep an unhappy player at the club for another year. The only way I personally think we would sell Rooney to Chelsea is if a massive marquee signing i.e. Ronaldo / Bale was purchased by United.
Many United fans dread seeing this in the upcoming season.

The main issue for the United officials in my view is to consider this question; Is it worth keeping an unhappy player to prevent possibly selling the title to a PL rival? If Rooney was sold to Chelsea and no major signing was made, I think Man United would struggle to win the 2013/14 PL title and find it hard to make it to the latter knockout stages of the Champions League. If Rooney was sold abroad then I think United would still have a great chance to win the Premier League. If United keep Rooney and make signings on top of that, I think United will win the 2013/14 PL title and more than compete in the CL. If a marquee player was signed I think we could win multiple trophies despite selling Wayne Rooney.

It’s safe to say that the possible permutations and possibilities are endless depending on how this Rooney saga will culminate. The fact there are so many things that could happen conditional to the Rooney Saga means that this is a very important transfer saga.  The way this saga ends will determine Man United’s fate for the upcoming season in my eyes. It is one of most crucial transfer sagas in the last decade for Manchester United fans and one which needs to be resolved amicably.

Hesham Bilal-Hafiz