Closing time is fast approaching on the transfer window, and whilst many deals are just starting to gather pace, one of the summer’s major transfer sagas looks to be running out of steam. The future of Wayne Rooney has been a hot topic over the past few weeks, but with a move to Chelsea looking increasingly likely to fizzle out, the England forward will be readying himself for another season at Old Trafford.
It’s no secret that Rooney wanted a move to Chelsea, and the London club obliged with three bids for the England forward. But Manchester United manager David Moyes has maintained that Rooney is not for sale and the club have been true to their word; both Chelsea bids were immediately rejected.
So, after such a turbulent summer, what does the future have in store for Rooney as a Manchester United player?
United’s stubborn stance has been admirable, but the situation has been far from ideal, especially with the club on the brink of one of the most important campaigns in their recent history. You could argue that at the start of a new era, Moyes should only have players within the ranks who are fully committed to the cause.
With his intentions to move on abundantly clear, concerns have lingered about whether Rooney fits this model. They were compounded further when he seemed reluctant to celebrate with his teammates in United’s opening day win at Swansea.
But that is by the bye, the crucial factor from United’s point of view now is whether Rooney is doing the business on the pitch. Up to now, he’s been excellent.
The world was watching against Chelsea, with plenty waiting to see the first signs of a dejected, fed-up player. Waiting for the United supporters to turn on Rooney after a skewed shot or misplaced pass.
But there were no signs of the petulance or lethargy that so many seemed to anticipate. Instead, Rooney turned in an all-action, man-of-the-match display. The supporters responded and gave the striker a stirring reception.
You wouldn’t really expect anything else from Rooney or the fans. Rooney takes flak for a host of different things, many of which are not remotely football related. But his attitude on the pitch is beyond question. It never has been.
Anyway, it would be ludicrous for him to think about sulking. Even if he is still looking for a way out of United, what would any potential suitors think of Rooney taking to the pitch with a strop on? It certainly wouldn’t reflect well on the former Everton man.
There is also the small matter of a World Cup next summer, should England qualify of course. He will be desperate to shine at a major international tournament having not done so since bursting onto the scene nine years ago (yes, nine years!) at Euro 2004. With the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck showing early promise, Rooney can’t afford to take his foot of the gas.
But there are no early indications of that happening, and those merely emphasize that United hold all the cards.
The end result is that Rooney seems determined, hungry and willing to contribute, whilst the supporters seem happy to forgive and forget. Mourinho was seemed almost quizzical of Old Trafford’s backing, describing their reaction, quite curiously, as ‘very English’. But that is the very nature of the beast; football fans are notoriously fickle. Regardless of what a player has said or done, if they go out on the pitch and put in performances for the team, supporters will back them.
The rest of the United squad must also accept that Rooney is going to be around for a little longer yet. There was talk earlier this summer of a players revolt against the England forward, with the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs apparently unhappy with Rooney’s conduct.
For players of that stature and experience, it must be difficult to see why anybody would want to leave a club like United and it is easy to see why they might take Rooney’s intentions to heart. But a situation like that – assuming it still remains a situation – is for David Moyes to pacify.
But the United players, when push comes to shove, would rather be on Rooney’s side than coming up against him, for he remains a genuine world class talent. That’s exactly why United have been so desperate to hold onto him after all.
Rooney is a player who is at his best when he is loved, and if the fans, his teammates and the manager can create that environment for him – regardless of what has gone on before – they will have one of the world’s most fearsome strikers at their disposal. So far, it looks as though that is exactly what United are trying to do.
Looking even further ahead after the 2014 World Cup, Rooney would have one year left on his contract. United will be hoping the England man rediscovers his affection for the club and extends his stay. If not, you suspect that losing the player for free would be seen as a more desirable outcome than selling to an immediate rival.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter: @MattJFootball