In October 2010 Wayne Rooney seemed to make the decision that his time at United was up, he requested a transfer from the club giving the reason that he felt the club were unable to attract top players and therefore unable to match his ambition. This decision resulted in a “mob” of United fans paying a visit to Rooney’s home to make their feelings on a rumoured move perfectly clear.
To cut a long story short, Rooney miraculously changed his mind after being offered a new contract with reported wages of £250,000 per week. He then went on to say how his request to leave United was one of the biggest mistakes of his life and that he would be here for years to come. The issue seemed to go quiet, despite rumours of ill feeling between him and Sir Alex as a result of the whole transfer charade. That was until the final third of last season.
Most of last season Rooney just didn’t look himself, he lacked sharpness and wasn’t delivering the hard working, bright performances we had all come to expect. Robin Van Persie had become the man whose name was being chanted by the United faithful and songs of “the white Pele” weren’t quite as loud as seasons gone by. Then came the Real Madrid champions league tie, the football and sporting media went in to a frenzy as Rooney was left out of the starting eleven in arguably United’s biggest game of the year. The media sensationalise a lot, but even I thought the decision to leave Rooney indicated issues. By the end of the season Sir Alex Ferguson said Rooney had asked to leave the club, again.
Since the night of that Real Madrid game we have had to put up with constant speculation and talk about Rooney’s future. It has become tiresome and at times it has threatened to over shadow the start of the new era at Old Trafford under David Moyes. The summer transfer window for United fans has been dominated by this saga. Jose Mourinho has returned to manage Chelsea, much to the English media’s delight and he has insisted on continually discussing his desire to bring Rooney to the London club. Journalists in England seemed to indicate that the feeling was mutual and Rooney was chasing a move down South. Chelsea proceeded to lodge two bids with United, both of which were rejected off hand with the club stating that under no circumstances would Rooney be sold. At the time I didn’t know how to feel, on one hand I was glad that Rooney wasn’t being sold to one of our closest title rivals, as he is undeniably an exceptional footballer. However, on the other hand I felt confused as to why the club wanted to keep a player that was reported to be completely set on a move away from United amid reports of him being excluded by other first team players and having a rift with David Moyes (over completely misinterpreted and misreported quotes regarding Rooney’s squad status).
Rooney missed the Community Shield game, the curtain raiser for the new season and the exit talk rumbled on, with Mourinho still continually dropping Rooney’s name and disrespecting United. Then came the Swansea game, the first league game of the new season. Rooney had played for England prior to our trip to Wales and had recovered from his injuries and as a result was in the squad for the Swans game, albeit on the bench. When he eventually came on as a substitute he got a frosty reception, despite what many journalists say. Some fans chanted his name, some booed him and some chose to remain completely indifferent. It wasn’t the brilliant reception so many outlets reported. The main point was, Rooney was still very much a United player as the club said he would be.
Our first home game of the season couldn’t have been more appropriate for this saga. Chelsea were to be the first visitors to the home of the Champions and with Rooney still at United and Chelsea still openly pursuing him it was sure to get a lot of column inches. Mourinho had decided to take the moral high ground and kindly said he wouldn’t bid again for Rooney until after the match. The big question was, would Rooney play against his suitors? The answer was unequivocally, yes. Rooney was given his first start of the season and proceeded to put in a man of the match performance, looking sharp, hungry and lean throughout. The United fans chanted his name loud and clear for most of the game, it was a very vocal public backing for a player who seemed to have done everything possible to alienate the United faithful.
Typically the Chelsea fans embarrassed themselves, choosing to chant Rooney’s name as if to poke fun at the situation whilst forgetting to acknowledge their own players or team for a vast amount of the game. After the game Mourinho proceeded to talk openly about the situation again, yet didn’t want to talk specifically about Samuel Eto’o by name because he doesn’t like doing it apparently. He pointed out that Rooney started the whole issue with his desire to leave and presented Wayne with an ultimatum of sorts, 48 hours to decide whether he wanted to join Chelsea or stay at United. I couldn’t help but feel that Mourinho was hoping to persuade Wayne to hand in an official transfer request. David Moyes spoke after the game about how Rooney had looked sharp and committed to the United cause, the club’s stance remained the same, Rooney was going nowhere.
We are edging closer to the end of what has been an underwhelming and slightly frustrating summer transfer window and it looks very like Rooney will still be a United player for the mean time. This issue still presents me with a number of thoughts. I worry about Rooney’s state of mind if he is being “forced” to stay but the Chelsea game seemed to indicate he was just fine. Now that he realises he is staying at United and is no longer being managed by Sir Alex (a key reason for Rooney’s unrest) I think United will probably try and extend Rooney’s contract. If he signs a contract I think he will settle at the club where he is on course to break Bobby Charlton’s goal scoring record. Many journalists say he still wants out and has no love for United or the fans, but at the same time these journalists stick the boot in to United at every opportunity and optimistically await some sort of capitulation and fall from grace for our club. Given the large amount of anti-United bias from a lot of journalists I tend to take what they say about our club and players with a large pinch of salt.
I am not saying Rooney hasn’t behaved poorly and I am not saying that he didn’t want a move to Chelsea but I am saying that keeping Rooney at United is the best possible outcome of this boring saga. He is top class and no top club should sell their best players to their rivals. At some stage we will hear publicly from Rooney on the matter, my guess is that he will probably say he is happy at the club. I also expect United will try and get him to sign a new contract in the not too distant future. Despite all of this, I really don’t know how to feel as a supporter. I will find it hard to sing his name at the matches but at the same time I will support any player that wears the red shirt of United. If he is to sign a new contract, with talk of renewal discussions in the next couple of months, then I hope this issue is finished once and for all. The fans seem largely receptive to the idea of him staying, I just hope that he is too.