The Libero - Disloyal Rooney set for ultimate betrayal
Published: 20 Oct 2010 - 07:55:43
There are sure to be plenty of words that have failed to make it into Wayne Rooney's vocabulary. After this week's tumultuous events, loyalty is clearly one of them.
Rooney's decision to refuse the offer of a new contract at Manchester United and to seek pastures new is shocking. No, it's worse than that, especially for United fans. It has rocked the football world like no other news has for years - and that's not hyperbole.
Not least because it seems to have come out of nowhere. There has been the odd little sign over the past couple of months, but certainly nothing to warrant the apparent finality of it all.
And the drastic turnaround from Rooney's assertion in mid-November last year ("Unless they tell me otherwise, I can’t see myself leaving, to be honest. I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere soon") to Alex Ferguson's bewildered statement at Tuesday's press conference ("We are as bemused as anyone can be, we can't quite understand why he would want to leave") is nothing short of staggering.
What makes the turnaround even more confounding is the lack of an obvious reason for Rooney to suddenly want out.
There is talk of Rooney being disenchanted with the direction the American owners are taking the club, and most notably the lack of investment in the team since the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo over a year ago.
But Ferguson has always insisted the Glazer family has made funds available to him, despite the club's enormous debts, and that it has been his choice not to splurge money on players with grossly inflated price tags.
And who, other than Manchester City, are ploughing money into transfers these days, anyway? Even Real Madrid have said their days of big spending are over.
Much has also been made of an apparent falling out between Rooney and Ferguson, but if reports are to be believed he made his decision to reject a new deal at Old Trafford known on August 14, well before he contradicted his manager in public over his 'injured' ankle.
Of course, the tabloid revelations about his private life are likely to have put a strain on the pair's relationship, but Ferguson has, publically at least, stood by him throughout. And what more could a player want from his manager under the circumstances?
Even Ferguson's decision to bench Rooney - real ankle injury or not - was made with the player's best interests at heart. If he was genuinely injured, he was being protected from aggravating it further. And if he wasn't, if he was simply being dropped due to his loss of form, he was being shielded from the public humiliation that would follow.
That is what Ferguson does. He looks after his players. And for Rooney repay him with a transfer request - or even worse to seek a Webster Ruling move - would be worse than disloyal. It would be treacherous.
So where next for Rooney? He probably knows already. Why else would he feel confident enough to reject the offer of a new contract at United? Nothing will be signed or sealed yet, but his agent will have made sure they at least have an idea of where Rooney is destined.
Spain? Unlikely. Can you imagine our Wayne learning a new language when he barely has a command of his own mother tongue? Thought not.
And who would have him anyway? Let's not forget that he's in terrible form at the moment. This is more than a temporary blip - it's been too long for that excuse to fly - and would the likes of Real Madrid or Barcelona really be willing to take on board a player who may struggle to adapt not only to a continental lifestyle but also continental football? His physical, all action style of play may not go down too well in some European leagues and a player who spends half a season on the sidelines due to suspension is of no use to anyone.
Anyway, Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has already gone on record to say he doesn't expect Rooney to join, while Barcelona are unlikely to make a move given their finances and their current attacking options.
Forget Italy, where Internazionale - who have never been linked with Rooney - are the only club capable of luring him to Serie A, and forget Germany, where Bayern Munich spent a fortune last summer and are unlikely to do so again in a hurry.
Which leaves England and realistically just two Premier League clubs in with a shout of securing his services.
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti has already registered an interest, but there is a difference between saying he'd like Rooney in his ranks and persuading Roman Abramovich to part with a huge transfer fee or astronomical wages.
So it has to be Manchester City. Wayne Rooney to Manchester City. Five words which several weeks ago were only ever strung together in that order in a City fan's guilt-ridden wet dream. It just wasn't possible.
But City are an ambitious, mega-rich club on the up who will do anything - and pay anything - to get them to the top. If that means handing Rooney a £200,000 a week deal, they are prepared to do it. They'll probably go even higher, if that means blowing the competition out of the water.
If Rooney really has made up his mind to leave Old Trafford, the short trip across Manchester makes complete sense. He'll get even richer even quicker, he won't have to up sticks and move his family anywhere and he'll most likely win trophies. In fact, if he moves there in January, City, with Rooney and Carlos Tevez up front, will run Chelsea all the way to the title. United will be nowhere.
The one thing standing in his way is his conscience. Is he capable of crossing the line, of going from hero to villain in a couple of flashes of a pen on paper? Players of his stature and at his stage of his career simply don't do that. But money like City are offering has never been on the cards before.
Rooney has already shown when he moved from his boyhood club Everton - where he once wore a T-shirt carrying the slogan, 'Once a Blue, Always a Blue' - to United in 2004 that he holds little regard for sentimentality.
And considering his apparent lack of loyalty to United by seeking a move elsewhere, despite everything the club has done for him, it would come as no surprise to see him tread one step further down the line and commit the ultimate betrayal.
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
- Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.
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