The cold war between Wayne Rooney and new Manchester United has apparently warmed up somewhat. With Ferguson gone, it was always going to be important for Moyes to make his mark and show that there’s a new sheriff in town. The fact that he’s chosen to do so by laying out a few home truths to the recalcitrant Rooney can only have endeared the Scotsman to the club’s fans. The ‘no-one is bigger than the club’ is the ideal mantra to lay down the law.
Moyes has declared that Rooney remains important to the club, he clearly indicated the pecking order by stating that Dutchman Robin van Persie remains the club’s first choice central striker, leaving Rooney behind him in the queue. He then went further by saying that he regards Shinji Kagawa’s best position as being in the gap between van Persie and the midfield.
If there was a brewing power battle between Moyes and Rooney, it appears to have been decisively decided in favour of the manger. The question then arises as to where this leaves the England striker. When he recently flew home from the club’s tour with an injury, speculation abounded that there may have been a ‘strategic’ element to the situation. If Rooney knew what was coming, it would be no surprise if he wanted to distance himself from the Moyes declaration.
Conversely, the news can only have gladdened the hearts of Rooney’s suitors. Down in London, both Chelsea and Arsenal will be willing to put a consoling arm around Rooney’s shoulder and convince him that someone still values him.
At this stage, it’s difficult to pick the facts from the speculation, but it seems safe to say that if Rooney was unsure how Moyes would react to him, that probably isn’t the case anymore. It’s understood that one of the reasons for Rooney’s disquiet at United was his failure to regain the central striker’s position usurped by van Persie. The Moyes statement will not have eased this, and with the ex-Arsenal man having netted 30 goals in his first old Trafford season, you have to concede that Moyes has a good point.
Of course, it’s still possible that Rooney will stay at Old Trafford, although the chances of that happening may have diminished a little. All it would take to end the speculation is a declaration from the player to stay and fight for his place. In the absence of that, it’s inevitable that speculation of a move will continue and grow.