United could progress without hat-trick hero Wayne Rooney: here’s why



66 seconds.  That was how long it took for Wayne Rooney to give Manchester United the lead in Munich almost exactly a year ago today.  It was his 34th goal of the season, and it came at a time when United was chasing success in the Premier and Champions Leagues, and there was genuine optimism that Rooney would lead England to glory at the World Cup.  90 minutes later, and United had lost with Rooney carried off the field with an ankle injury, leaving United fans to fear that the club’s chances of success had evaporated. To suggest selling Rooney at that point, you would have to have been mad, or one of the Glazers.

But events in the last 12 months have led many to question Rooney’s future at the club, despite the signing of a new contract worth a reported £240,000 a week, despite the striker’s recent improved form

There are many reasons why United shouldn’t sell Rooney of course.

First, the 25-year-old is still a player who can influence big games.  His recent goal at Stamford Bridge.  THAT overhead kick. The weekend hat-trick at West Ham United. Rooney  retains the ability to make something happen in a game, and for all the heavy touches, the sluggishness, and seeming lack of interest, there is simply no-one else in United’s that offers all of this.

Rooney  still carries an aura that creates fear in opponents; they know he can single-handedly win games, or lift the crowd with a moment of inspiration.

Third, despite the transfer request and utterly contemptible actions back in October, Rooney still has a place in the hearts of many fans.  The banners that sent a strong message about where the fans’ loyalty lay in the aftermath of the game against Bursaspor have long gone, and now the former Evertonian’s name is sung louder than any other at Old Trafford once again.

Supporters, like a cheated partner, know what he did, but are simply trying their best to go back to normal.  The betrayal will always be there, but letting go would still be painful, because regardless of everything that has happened, Rooney has come to represent the beating heart of the club since Roy Keane retired.

Despite this, there are some compelling reasons for selling Rooney this summer.

For all of Rooney’s half-hearted apologies, he will never undo what happened in October.  A simple look back at that turbulent week shows that he didn’t merely ask to leave the club, but he treated the club, the manager, and his team-mates with disdain.  It started with the leaked stories to the press.  The story first broke late on the Sunday night on Twitter –journalists had been briefed by Rooney’s people and there was talk of his relationship with Ferguson being beyond repair.  Before that, there was the saga of his injury; an injury which he had publicly denied existed before the big story broke.  His form and his own words since have proved this a lie.

Then there was that press conference.  The press release where Rooney – who fans were told had broken off talks over a new contract that he had instigated months earlier – tried to shift the story to being about ambition, citing a lack of investment in the team and a lack of assurance about the club’s ability to attract top players.  It was a carefully managed script, and it was delivered just two hours before a Champions League match.

The financial situation at the club is well known, and many people have given a better insight than this article will, but Rooney’s attempts to win the moral argument were spectacularly misguided.  Not many supporters believed the striker then, nor believe him now.

Indeed, Ferguson himself rebutted Rooney’s claims about ‘ambition’ that same night, responding when questioned about Rooney’s comments, by asking: “have I won 30 trophies or what?”  Ferguson’s response and his plea to fans to trust him with the future of the club was more re-assuring, more convincing than Rooney’s attempt to backtrack on his position and become a martyr for the fans disillusioned with the Glazers ownership of the.

The whole saga left a bitter taste in the mouth.  Rooney’s betrayal seemed far worse than Cristiano Ronaldo’s.  Ronaldo had always been clear that he wanted to play for Real Madrid; Rooney said he wanted to stay at United for life.  No matter how many overhead kicks he scores, he will never undo what happened that week.  His name will never be as revered as Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona or Roy Keane.

But whilst it is possible to argue that, with the episode in the past, supporters should move on – after all, even Keane had a very public dispute with the club over a contract ten years ago– there is another, less emotive reason why the club should consider selling the player.

Last season, in a team that had lost Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, Rooney was simply brilliant.  For much of the season, a side that lacked real creativity relied almost solely on Rooney’s goals, and would probably have won a fourth consecutive league title but for the player’s injury.  Throughout that season, Rooney predominantly played as a lone striker, particularly after Christmas, when he scored an inordinate amount of headed goals.  For the first time in his career, Rooney demonstrated what he could do when a team was built around him.

But this season a combination of factors has seen Rooney play increasingly deeper role.  At the start of the season Sir Alex Ferguson finally decided to play Dimitar Berbatov in the position that he occupied at Tottenham – closer to goal –  and has been rewarded with 21 goals so far this season, his best return for the club.  Also, as the season has progressed, Javier Hernandez has gone from impact sub to challenging for a regular place in the starting 11.  The Mexican’s strength is high up the pitch, on the shoulder of the last defender.  Both players have exceeded Rooney this season, and whilst neither has scored as many goals as Rooney did last season, each has contributed to a team that is better balanced and less predictable.

The pair’s form has seen Rooney pushed either out wide, or into an old-fashioned ‘no. 10’ position recently; arguably two positions he is not fully equipped to play in.  He is a good passer, but not great.  His movement is excellent, but his positional sense is not – too often Rooney drifts when he doesn’t see the ball.  The days of Rooney beating a defender with pace and power are long gone.  He is capable in those positions, but does not excel.

All of this leaves Ferguson with a dilemma.  Does he sacrifice Berbatov and Hernandez to let Rooney lead the line again, whilst at the same time adding another barrier to the first team for the promising Danny Welbeck?  Or does he do something more controversial, and sell his one-time star player, and evolve a new team without him?

The latter choice is not without precedent.  Andrei Kanchelskis, Mark Hughes and Paul Ince were sold and replaced with Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt.  Keane was replaced by a completely different player in Michael Carrick.  Ruud Van Nistelrooy was not even replaced, Ferguson instead trusting Ronaldo to step up.  Ronaldo was replaced by Antonio Valencia and a resurgent Nani.  Each time the team evolved, forging a new identity and a new way of playing.

The need for some reinforcements in midfield is long debate and the club has been linked with bids for Jack Rodwell, Wesley Sneijder and Javier Pastore among others. That is for the summer – what we do know is that Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Anderson and probably Scholes will all be at the club next season (the first three having all signed new contracts recently, and an offer is likely to be made to Scholes), but all of them are more comfortable playing deeper in midfield.  If United sells Rooney, and buys an attacking midfielder of genuine quality to play behind Berbatov or Hernandez to link the midfield and attack, the same process of evolution could take place again.

Certainly, there is much evidence that Ferguson prefers a 4-2-3-1 system or one of its derivatives; a player in the mould of Mesut Ozil, or the aforementioned Sneijder, would fit into that set-up.

We have heard much about the talents of some of the younger players at the club.  Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley have been impressive at Sunderland and Wigan Athletic respectively, Federico Macheda is still to fulfil his potential.  Next in line are genuinely brilliant prospects in Paul Pogba, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Ravel Morrison.  Perhaps moving Rooney on, with all the baggage he has accumulated, will allow some of these youngsters – along with an astute signing or two – to shape the evolution of the next, and potentially Fergie’s last, great United side.

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  • captainhormone

    ffs, im not reading all that

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Yeah, well you didn’t miss out on anything.

    • GeorgiaJon

      You sure visit the site and comment on articles a lot for a hater.

  • Jay Shon

    You’ve presented a balanced argument about Rooney vis a vis his relationship with the fanbase.

    Not to sound too harshly but why should Ferguson care about what fans think as long as he continues to win?

    Rooney does not play as an old fashioned “10″ but as a more direct attacking midfielder nowadays and that is a role Rooney is tailor made for. In a 4-2-3-1 variant, Rooney could occupy the central attacking midfield role or lead the line.

    There is very little tactical reason for letting Rooney go… so what if Rooney will never be the new Eric Cantona as long as he does well and fits in well with the tema?

  • Ted

    Anyway! What time is family guy on?

  • dozer

    Blog Commenter said:

    There is very little tactical reason for letting Rooney go

    Yeah right.

    A good player, but irreplaceable, he is not.
    Ronaldo, Keane and now Scholes are harder to replace. Especially Scholes. Xavi isn’t available is he?

  • http://www.newhallmedialtd.com Calvino

    dozer said:

    Yeah right.

    A good player, but irreplaceable, he is not.
    Ronaldo, Keane and now Scholes are harder to replace. Especially Scholes. Xavi isn’t available is he?

    Scholes is not hard to replace. xavi will be hard for Barcelona to replace because that is how they have ALWAYS played. Before Xavi they had their current manager now and they have a few in their squad like that.

    Utd on the other hand under SAF have not always played with a deep lying playmaker which what the current Scholes has become. With another young ball winner/fighter we can have a proper platform in midfield and then have Rooney in the hole behind a central striker. The player I believe we need to replace is Ryan Giggs. We need a left footer who can also fly down the left flank.

    By the way, this was not an attack on Paul Scholes. if you think it is, tough.

  • dozer

    You mean the other welshman to replace him right? 40m at least

  • http://www.newhallmedialtd.com Calvino

    No need to spend all that money on Bale. Not prudent at all. Besides, let us see what he does next season anyway. But Giggs has been so regular down our left flank over the years that we have taken it for granted that he will always be there. Well, he won’t and he will be a great miss. Frankly, he is no great shakes now but can still offer the odd cameo. At the moment, when he is not playing Evra is our only left-footer and we suffer for it.

    Ashley Young will just be another Nani. That is why I will go for Downing instead. Lovely left foot, technically very sound, very quick, strong engine to go up and down the flank. Just what we need.

    • Victor

      This is why I hate United’s interest in Young. It was obvious to all Downing should have been bought years ago. Better than that over rated cunt at White Hart Lane.

  • http://www.sourceofgravity.com Bill

    We are complaining that we don’t have enough top quality players and we want to sell our main playmaker = odd. How do we know if the likes of Pastore would settle in English football.

    • Ashish

      “We are complaining that we don’t have enough top quality players and we want to sell our main playmaker = odd.”

      Ditto.

      I do not understand why this argument about selling Rooney has cropped up despite him performing well in recent matches and scoring a hat trick in his last game.

      Doesn’t make sense.

  • Zi Indefatigable

    I could see us without Rooney, with 3 midfielders that would complete the team. I’m also very excited about Cleverly, Welbeck, Macheda, Morrison, Pogba and Tunnicliffe.

    AND we’re gonna sign about 30 18 year old Brazilians in a variety of positions in the next 5 years. The future is very bright and I think Fergie will do everything in his power to set up for the next cycle of players and avoid the horrid years of 2003-2006.

    If we sell Rooney and get Pastore or Sneijder, I would not complain.

  • Spider

    Utterly ridiculous to seriously suggest Rooney should go. As for the days of beating players with pace and power being long gone – nonsense. Rooney is still capable of that. He has played very well as a no.10, e.g. against Arsenal in the cup when he was superb. Berbatov has been better this season but often goes completely missing away from home and I would not want to be depending on him as our main striker. Hernandez is terrific but needs a strong player playing near him. A central attacking duo of Hernandez/Pastore or Hernandez/Sneijder is too short and lightweight.

  • herbie simms

    If Rooney can keep his head on straight, he is a damn good player. Could make a very good attacking midfielder, if only he can stay focused. Too many distractions makes him look ordinary. And yes there seems to be quite a bit of talented Brazilian youngsters coming into the academy team. This will be good for the future but we must mix it up with some just as talented UK youngsters also.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Selling Rooney would piss me off… end of.
    You can talk about the young talent coming through, or bringing in possible replacements… it doesn’t matter… as long as the Glazers are in charge, I would never get past the idea that we were doing anything but selling assets for their benefit.
    If they had true form of supporting the team with investment, then I might entertain the idea… MIGHT… if it was a case of selling 1 star, to bring in 2… or some other logical, and reasonable plan.
    But you’re just suggesting the notion of selling Rooney and let’s see what we can do without him… that’s just lunacy.
    He’s by far our best player… individually, he’s excellent… but as a team player, he’s IMO, one of the best 3/4 in the world…
    United under the Glazers has NO credible form of investing the money neccessary to make us one of the best teams in the world. The team that we are watching right now, is based on a core of players that were in place before the Glazers… or brought in, when the Glazers were actively trying to win over doubters…
    It is obvious, to me at least, that they no longer give a shit what the fans think…
    So we sell Rooney for… say… £50/60 mill… add that to the pile… with what is claimed to be in the bank now… that would make, what, £200+million????
    Fergie and Gill… “all is well, we have plenty of money in the bank, and the full support of the Glazers”… £200mill in the bank… what the fuck do we need £200mill in the bank for?
    We need talent on the pitch, not money in the bank… this “no value” crap, holds less weight, the more money we have… and yet the more money we have, the more clubs will try to gouge us for their players… it’s a catch 22 situation that takes the piss out of the “no value” argument.
    This is of course, assuming that we in fact, do actually have… all this money in the bank…

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  • Ted

    Bill said:
    We are complaining that we don’t have enough top quality players and we want to sell our main playmaker = odd. How do we know if the likes of Pastore would settle in English football.

    The phrase your looking for Bill is “fuckin clueless”!

  • Ted

    Blog Commenter said:
    I could see us without Rooney, with 3 midfielders that would complete the team. I’m also very excited about Cleverly, Welbeck, Macheda, Morrison, Pogba and Tunnicliffe.

    AND we’re gonna sign about 30 18 year old Brazilians in a variety of positions in the next 5 years. The future is very bright and I think Fergie will do everything in his power to set up for the next cycle of players and avoid the horrid years of 2003-2006.

    If we sell Rooney and get Pastore or Sneijder, I would not complain.

    Just how you’d get excited about 5 players who’ll never play for United is, well, quite frankly, its perverse.

  • bman

    The original article lost all credibility when it argued that Rooney wasn’t a great passer, that’s just fucking retarded. Rooney’s a great player, greater than Cantona for sure, Keane, etc. You could ask him to play anywhere on the pitch and he’d do well, he’s just a footballer plain and simple, the complete footballer. A total gobshite mind, and it’s only himself holding him back. With a mentality like Ronaldo’s or Messi’s he’d be competing with those guys. If he was playing in a soft league like Spain’s would all be jizzing about him and wishing we had someone like him. Any manager in the world would kill to have him, as demonstrated by the fact that United pulled out all the stops to keep him.

    • mongoletsi

      Rooney is not greater than Keane or Cantona. You are wrong/on crack.

  • eddieTheRed

    Off topic: There’s a great photo of Sir Alex in the Irish Independent this morning:

    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/famous-faces-go-back-in-time-at-folk-park-2611196.html

  • Bill

    The Ronaldo saga proves that whether its via the Glazers and their bankrupting the club or Fergies there no value in the market, any cash from a big name sale just won’t get re-invested.

    Ronaldo out and the only player over 10 mill we have got since is Valencia. The rest of the transfers balance each other out pretty much. Rooney is an idiot but has to stay. He won’t be the 25+ goalscorer again but will bag 15-20 and set up a similar amount.

  • yusuf

    I do like your article, buh absolutely disagree with letting wayne go, Absolutely not.

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    when hes on top form rooney beats players for pace and power, you can always tell how rooneys form is by how quick hes looking, games like spurs away and arsenal away last season he was making cunts of lightening players like clichy and ekotto, his passing is brilliant an all, and thats on or off form, his passings the one fucking thing you can never doubt about wayne, hes got a fucking amazing football brain, and the positioning stuff, hes still the best at finding space between opposition midfield and back four, hes fucking brilliant, hes wayne ffs, much better player than cantona was, who we dont half overrate, not the best player weve ever had and not our best player at that time, both of those are giggs

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    still not convinced he wont go tho, he dont look happy, hes got that same ‘fuck it i’ll do what i want’ mindset that ron had when he knew he was leaving, and then he started doing wierd stuff like that handball redcard at city and bollocking fergie when fergie bollocked him for missing a sitter at wigan, and generally looking fuck off about summat, except theyre both winners and fucking brilliant so they’ll rooney will carry us over the line at the business end like ron did,

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    its another crap article,

  • Spike

    Blog Commenter said:
    You sure visit the site and comment on articles a lot for a hater.

    and?

  • dozer

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Selling Rooney would piss me off… end of.
    You can talk about the young talent coming through, or bringing in possible replacements… it doesn’t matter… as long as the Glazers are in charge, I would never get past the idea that we were doing anything but selling assets for their benefit.
    If they had true form of supporting the team with investment, then I might entertain the idea… MIGHT… if it was a case of selling 1 star, to bring in 2… or some other logical, and reasonable plan.
    But you’re just suggesting the notion of selling Rooney and let’s see what we can do without him… that’s just lunacy.
    He’s by far our best player… individually, he’s excellent… but as a team player, he’s IMO, one of the best 3/4 in the world…
    United under the Glazers has NO credible form of investing the money neccessary to make us one of the best teams in the world. The team that we are watching right now, is based on a core of players that were in place before the Glazers… or brought in, when the Glazers were actively trying to win over doubters…
    It is obvious, to me at least, that they no longer give a shit what the fans think…
    So we sell Rooney for… say… £50/60 mill… add that to the pile… with what is claimed to be in the bank now… that would make, what, £200+million????
    Fergie and Gill… “all is well, we have plenty of money in the bank, and the full support of the Glazers”… £200mill in the bank… what the fuck do we need £200mill in the bank for?
    We need talent on the pitch, not money in the bank… this “no value” crap, holds less weight, the more money we have… and yet the more money we have, the more clubs will try to gouge us for their players… it’s a catch 22 situation that takes the piss out of the “no value” argument.
    This is of course, assuming that we in fact, do actually have… all this money in the bank…

    Rooney has his merits but if he’s sold you cannot blame the Glazers this time.
    I don’t know if you’re one of those don’t see, hear, speak monkeys but if Rooney’s sold, that’s because he would have wanted to leave.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Blog Commenter said:
    You sure visit the site and comment on articles a lot for a hater.

    You’re an idiot.

    How’s that for a comment?

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    when hes on top form rooney beats players for pace and power, you can always tell how rooneys form is by how quick hes looking, games like spurs away and arsenal away last season he was making cunts of lightening players like clichy and ekotto, his passing is brilliant an all, and thats on or off form, his passings the one fucking thing you can never doubt about wayne, hes got a fucking amazing football brain, and the positioning stuff, hes still the best at finding space between opposition midfield and back four, hes fucking brilliant, hes wayne ffs, much better player than cantona was, who we dont half overrate, not the best player weve ever had and not our best player at that time, both of those are giggs

    And that’s why he’d make a brilliant midfielder.

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    when he plays like yesterday its like weve got three in midfield and two up front at the same time

  • http://none ian

    What a load of hot air. Rooney is no Ronaldo or Messi & he knows it himself. Of course he is nor irreplaceale but it is now extremely unlikely that he will go. Let’s just bloody concentrate on what an incredible opportunity we have got. The league is ours to lose & that would be an aincredible achievement. We beat City & the Cup is there for the taking. We beat Chelski & we are big favourites for the final. Bloody hell if we can’t enjoy the good times I fear when we have a slump.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    “Schmeichel – Rooney should leave”

    http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11661_6860701,00.html

  • sheesh

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    “Schmeichel – Rooney should leave”
    http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11661_6860701,00.html

    Just read that. Not sure whether to believe he actually made those comments or not.
    Edit – Schmeichel on Twitter:
    I don’t want anyone, especially Rooney leaving United, but he doesn’t look happy at the place.
    7 minutes ago via Twitter for iPhone
    Was asked what would make Rooney happy. Only suggested a new challenge, would make him happy. Never said he SHOULD move.
    36 minutes ago via Twitter for iPhone

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    I like Pete, but he’s not the brightest bulb… talks a lot of shit.

    Anyway… Rooneys’ happiness is nowt to do with football, or where he plays… it’s him… he’s really just an angry, chavvy, little yob, who found an out in football… if he hadn’t made it as a pro player, you can just imagine him, living on a housing estate, with a perpetually pregnant girlfriend, a pitbull named Tyson, and a collection of asbos.

    He wouldn’t be any happier playing for a different team in England… and I’d be willing to bet that he’d be isolated and miserable in Spain or Italy.

    United and Ferguson is the best place for him.

  • sheesh

    He’s not exactly clarified his comments. Surely a ‘new challenge’ means a move away from United. He’s hardly talking about taking up belly dancing as a past time.

  • sidney

    Last summer he asked the club whether or not they would sign quality players

    He’ll probably do the same this season, because this is a shite United team and our rivals are improving

    If we persist with Gibson & Hargreaves, he’ll probably put in a request to leave

  • kramer

    i think keano was right, schmeichel seems to enjoy the attention

  • http://www.sourceofgravity.com Bill

    This is another bad side effect of the Twitter/Facebook world we live in. Who cares what he said. The problem is people now can make known to the world the first thing that comes into their head.