You know, sometimes people change jobs, and when you leave one place of employment, it’s fairly usual for a bit of a whip-round for a present and a Good Luck card to be exchanged. In the rarified world of Premier League football however, if many of the newspapers are to be believed, Wayne Rooney will be disappointed if he’s expecting either of those from his workmates if he leaves Manchester United for Chelsea.
Of course, you never know the truth of these things, and there’s so much political posturing by clubs involved in high stakes transfer business, but it’s widely reported that many of the England striker’s teammates are turning against Rooney. Identified in some ‘papers as Ferdinand, Giggs and Evra – all three former United captains – you have to wonder if this is some kind of concerted effort by the club to prepare the ground for the player’s departure. With another Chelsea bid rejected, the ‘Not for Sale’ sign hung around Rooney’s neck appears pretty consistent, but that’s often the way before deals are completed.
Consider for a minute a scenario wherein United were prepared to sell. The first thing they’d need to do is to get the best price. Knocking back bids is a good way of upping the ante, but also is indistinguishable from genuinely not being interested in selling. The second issue is to get the politics right. To do this, the club would need a scenario where they can say that the sale was in the best interests of the club. Marshalling stalwart players such as the triumvirate mentioned above isn't a bad start.
Painting a picture of the player causing disharmony and damaging team spirit – the thing that Ferguson always enthused about at the club – isn’t a bad start. If they can push the player into submitting an official transfer request, that will be another box ticked. Finally, all they then need is to make a purchase of a ‘marque’ player – Ronaldo would be ideal, but Fabregas or someone similar would fit – and they could wave Rooney out of the door and say it was in the best interests of the club.
The world of the transfer window always involves speculation and rumour, but so much of it is smoke and mirrors that obscure reality. The Rooney saga is far from decided, and it’s of course possible that he will stay and make statements about being ‘re-energised by the club’ or similar. Conversely, the deal may go through. In either instance, at its denouement, there’ll be a number of fans, both of the red and blue persuasion, who will be thoroughly bored of the shenanigans.