Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho gave his two cents on the Wayne Rooney saga on Monday, saying that he expects the star striker to stay at Manchester United. The man whom many expect to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford is right — even if that means the string of Ferguson-player fallouts ending with exits must end.
Rooney may be a star at odds with Ferguson, just as David Beckham, Ruud Van Nistelroy, Roy Keane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez were prior to their United exits, but Rooney’s case is different.
Keane’s and Van Nistelroy’s fallouts were as much with their teammates as they were with Ferguson, and both were clearly past their prime when the left Old Trafford. It wasn’t a tough call for Sir Alex.
Tevez was simply too good of a player to not be in the lineup for every match, and he was clearly under-appreciated at United. With Manchester City, he has become captain. Clearly, that exit made sense for Tevez, beef with Fergie aside.
For Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid was always set to be his ultimate club — not United, and it was simply a matter of time until that occurred.
As for Beckham, his exit from United came towards the end of his peak as a player, and though he is an Englishman, his desire to be a global icon meant it was always sensible for him to take his talents abroad. His subsequent moves to the U.S. and Italy have further underscored such.
Then, there’s Rooney — the face of English soccer and the face of Manchester United, which is in turn the country’s most emblematic club. He’s not just the face of the game as Beckham was, however. He’s also the best player — at least when he’s fit enough to score 34 goals in a season like he did last year.
As a team, Manchester United’s star has somewhat faded since the departures of Tevez and Ronaldo. They have only one international superstar in Rooney, and if they let him leave, they’ll have none. That’s simply not acceptable for the world’s biggest club.
For Rooney, leaving United for another team in England wouldn’t benefit his career, nor would a move abroad. Manchester City may be interested in him, but moving to Man City would be akin to LeBron James’ move to the Miami Heat. It would be the easy way out to go to a manufactured, villainous “super-team.” The only other club in England with the ability to afford him when the January transfer window opens would likely be Chelsea, but EUFA’s new financial rules may make that difficult, and would Rooney want to be the second best scorer on his team? Rooney blossomed in 2009 without Cristiano Ronaldo. Playing alongside Didier Drogba may likewise put a damper on his scoring output.
Abroad, Rooney has been linked most heavily with Real Madrid, but does a club with Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain on the attack have any use for the player? It just doesn’t make sense, even if Rooney is transferred in return for Benzema or Higuain, who are of a similar age and class.
Barcelona has no use for Rooney, particularly after signing David Villa, and there really aren’t any other feasible locations that could near Rooney’s like 50 million pound price tag.
All of the above leads to Rooney staying at Old Trafford, angry as he may be that Sir Alex benched him over issues in his private life and that the two have quarrelled over Rooney’s form and injury status.
The reality is that the ball is mostly in Ferguson’s and United’s court, and Sir Alex is just too smart to let him go. Much like when Kobe Bryant appeared to want out of Los Angeles during the summer prior to Pau Gasol’s arrival, cooler heads should prevail in Rooney’s case, and the team should add a supporting star to give him some help too. The championship results would likely prove to be similar if United follows such a path.
While Rooney’s 34 goal season in 2009-10 may have been extraordinary, he’s a veritable superstar and a world class striker when fit. If you’ve watched Manchester United this season, you know how much they need both. It should also be noted that Rooney is under contract until 2012, meaning that he and Sir Alex have nearly two whole seasons to patch things up.
They’d be wise to do so.
See Sky Sports’ report on the situation below.
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