It’s a classic playroom scene.
We notice little Dave’s got a toy that looks quite intriguing. A big T-Rex-type Transformer with ginormous lasers coming out of its eyeballs and legs as big as tree trunks and with karate chop action. We want it. ‘Can I play with it?’ we enquire. ‘No!’ we’re told. ‘Please?’ we beg. ‘Give ya a pound?’ ‘NO!’ is the repeated bark into now tear-soaked faces. ‘Get outta here!’
Back we trudge to the other side of the playroom to our own selection of toys. Their good but the set would be complete if we could just snag that other toy. We’ll just have to accept what we have.
As the months go on we slowly start to realise that the playthings we own are actually quite good. So good in fact that there’s no way we can play with them all at once. One of the big-hitters is going to have to be left in the toy box every now and again.
We look back at little Dave and start to notice that he’s now offering admiring glances at some of our toys. His toys are all worn out, broken or just plain useless. One of his better ones is a 40 year old hand-me-down for Christ’s sake.
He’s got that great big toy you so wanted many months ago, but the rest of his collection are average at best. Dave’s eyes are focused on one toy in particular that has been cast aside for the past few months, while the others have been consistently played with. A classy, reliable looking toy coveted by many but doesn’t quite fit into our own playtime plans.
‘Can I have it?’ Asks Dave. ‘No!’ is our vengeful response.
‘Go on then. I barely use it anyway’.
Jose Mourinho must have felt just like that triumphant kid as soon as he answered the phone to a desperate David Moyes enquiring about the availability unwanted toy Juan Mata.
‘Look who’s come crawling back!’
The Chelsea manager spent much of last summer enquiring about and bidding for Manchester United talisman Wayne Rooney, only to be told several times by Moyes that he was not for sale.
Now after contrasting starts to the season, which sees Mourinho’s Chelsea sitting comfortably in third place in the table and Moyes’ United struggling to qualify for next season’s Europa League, the tables have turned and the negotiation ball lies firmly in the court of The Special One.
Mata doesn’t fit into Mourinho’s system and desperately wants to play first team football over the next few months in order to gain a place in the Spanish World Cup squad. Mourinho has expressed his admiration for the player as well his regret that he can’t keep all of multi-talented squad happy. It offers an indication of how little he currently fears United as a rival that he is willing to let a player of such talent head to Old Trafford.
This begs the question. Has he used the potential summer acquisition of Wayne Rooney as a bargaining tool?
Rooney’s apparent desire to leave United last summer before a sudden change of heart and claims he is happy where he is has all the hallmarks of the Cristiano Ronaldo saga of 2008.
Ronaldo, fresh from conquering Europe with United, had his heart set on a move to boyhood heroes Real Madrid. He was convinced, of course, by then manager Sir Alex Ferguson, to commit to the cause for one more year before being granted his wish.
To what extent Rooney wanted out last summer we don’t know, but it’s possible Moyes did just what his predecessor did with Ronaldo and tied Rooney down with a gentleman’s agreement for one more year.
Now, with Mata set to sign for the Old Trafford side for a club record £37 million, we must wait until the summer to find out the fate of Rooney.
With one year left on his current contract, he must either sign an extension or be moved on, possibly even in a cut-price deal. Otherwise he is free to leave for nothing in the summer of 2015.
While the signing of Mata may well turn out to be the shining light of a season of woe for Manchester United fans, will the acquisition convince Rooney that the club can challenge for the top honours next season and beyond?
While Mourinho may not be delighted to see Mata leave today, he might well be rubbing his hands with glee at the potential purchase a coveted toy this coming summer. Big humongous laser eyeballs an’ all.