Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Rooney's United career hangs in the balance

Rooney and Fergie's relationship: merely professional
Those with a long-term memory for detail at Manchester United might favour showing Wayne Rooney the exit door after talks with David Moyes.
 
Sent home with a hamstring injury just 24 hours after his arrival on the club's preseason tour, Rooney's Old Trafford career's dipped to a new low.

Back home, the England striker's "angered and confused" about his future after Moyes hinted he'd not be first choice.

Moyes insists he "has a major role to play", but "if for any reason we had an injury to Robin van Persie we are going to need him. I want as many options as possible."

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward underlined the stance by declaring no fear in allowing Wazza's contract to run down. But what if Chelsea's overtures to sign Rooney become deafening? The tone of the tough talk might then lighten at Old Trafford.

Jose Mourinho's already confirmed his first bid has been rejected, but strenuously denied offering Juan Mata and David Luiz as makeweights in the deal.

Rooney's dispute is 'afters' over the transfer request he slapped in nearly three years ago when declaring the club lacked ambition.

Remember the saga in 2010? How thickheadedness threatened to put a foot through everything of value in his life; his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson and wife, Colleen? I wrote about it furiously - THRICE. here, here and here!

I was right to think settlement between Fergie and Wazza was a ticking timebomb: that Sir Alex Ferguson had re-signed him, figuring Rooney was valuable to the team even if he had to break his own rules about tolerating such behaviour from one of his players.

Peace broke about between them back then but came at the expense of a distance, a coldness between the pair. Their handshake on the pitch as Fergie waved goodbye to management was much less warm than those shared with Giggs and Scholes.

Bridges built look to be burning down.
Three years on and United can cash in on one of their main transfer assets without losing value to Bosman. 

But the club insists it's not rushing to sign an extension to his deal despite just two years left on it. Neither is he for sale.

The message is clear from new boss David Moyes: play yourself back into contention. Robin van Persie is the 'main man'.

Now Rooney has to build bridges with Moyes, with whom he has a rocky past, including a libel suit that resulted in an apology from Rooney and a reported £50,000-£150,000 settlement for Moyes.

In his 2006 autobiography "Wayne Rooney: My Story So Far," Rooney accused Moyes of leaking the details of a conversation they had while they were both at Everton in 2004.

Rooney wrote that he told Moyes he wanted out of Everton after tabloids caught him visiting a prostitute. The next day the Liverpool Echo ran a story about the conversation, and Rooney wrote in his book that Moyes was the one who spilled the beans.

After the book came out, Moyes sued Rooney, HarperCollins, and co-author Hunter Davies for libel — saying the accusation that he threw Rooney out was "wholly untrue."

In 2008, the suit was settled before a trial. Rooney "sincerely apologized" and paid damages and legal costs worth £500,000, according to the Guardian, £50,000-£150,000 of that is believed to have gone to Moyes.

Despite Rooney insisting his battle with United in 2010 wasn't about money - more a lack of ambition at Old Trafford, United gave him a contract extension and a massive pay-hike.

But as Rooney and his representatives consider what to do with New United, perhaps they should be armed with the words of Roy Keane ringing in their minds.

Plain-speaking Keane, who's twelve years at Old Trafford ended after a spat with Sr Alex in 2005 said, "I would tell Wayne, who's a good lad, to make sure he looks after number one.

"Players are pieces of meat. When your time's up, it's up. Luckily for Wayne, he's at a good age and he's fit".

Keano's falling out with Fergie was at the end of his career - a few months at Celtic proved his swansong.

The first years of Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa plus the emergence of Danny Welbeck, put unprecedented pressure on Sir Alex's then 'main man'.

His £10m a year wages plus United's inevitably daunting asking price puts paid to pretty much everyone's interest.

As with every top player in crisis, the only way to emerge better is to play yourself back into contention. Chelsea have emerged from the bushes like speculative hunters and despite his baggage, Rooney would be quite a trophy bagged.

Jose Mourinho can smell an opportunity. He's said England would be affected by a Rooney who wasn't first-choice at Old Trafford, hinting he could be the main man in blue.

Despite the talk, United may well be warned by Chelsea's interest to insist he's not for sale, then listen to eye-watering offers for his services at a time to suit them.