The previous post made right after Ferguson announced his retirement did not really get any attention or bring forth any discussion at all. I guess people didn’t like the quality, what was written or were too fed up with the amount of blogs and newspapers sharing their opinion, to care about a rreddevils-post. Fair enough. Following is an attempt on a better one.
It has been a couple of very hectic days for us Man United fans. Ferguson is retiring, Gill is leaving and Scholesy has kicked his final ball at Old Trafford. A lot of rumors about players coming in and players leaving followed the hiring of David Moyes, and the rumor with the most momentum has been that Wayne Rooney wants out. This was confirmed by Sir Alex Ferguson a couple days ago, and the latest news tell us that Giggs, Moyes and Ferguson met with Rooney in a hotel to discuss his future. Seeing as Giggs was brought in by the managers, it seems pretty obvious that Ferguson and Moyes have set out on a mission to convince Wayne to stay. This post is going to look at the concequences of Rooney staying at United or leaving for another club. Who is getting the short end of the stick here?
The signal effect
Rooney wants out? How dare he! Many different opinions have been voiced out when it comes to Rooney leaving or staying. The fact that he comes in with a transfer request for the second time in three years has made me and most of the other United fans I’ve talked with, furious. He can stay or he can go, but either way, the transfer request can have a bigger impact on the future of the club than one first might think.
First of all, if he changes his mind (is convinced by Giggs, Ferguson and Moyes), we come off as weak. Is Manchester United a club where a player can dick around like that, TWICE, and still be wanted? Shouldn’t a player like that be thrown out? After thinking about it for a while, I realised that even if we might come off weak, it also shows strength. Being able to keep a player that we wanted to keep, shows some strength. Rooney also probably has the highest maximum level of performance of any player in the squad. A Rooney in top form is a top 5 player in the world. Other players would love to partner up with that, and having a player like Rooney in the club could be the deciding factor if another star player is debating whether to join United or say Arsenal.
Secondly, the way we are treating Rooney is very unlike Manchester Uniteds’ tradition. Having a look at previous players going against the way of the club, be that by whining about not getting enough play time, wanting higher wages, losing focus on the game or screwing with the team spirit, Ferguson has always offloaded them quickly. Jaap Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Carlos Tevez, David Beckham. Players that in some way betrayed what the club stood for, justified or not, have always been thrown out as fast as possible. Yet, we are, for the second time in two years, doing everything we can to keep Rooney.
Third, what does this show the other players at the club? You can whine your way to a better contract, the club still wants you. A couple of seasons later, you can be unhappy because you didn’t get to play full games (because you played sub-par), and then whine again. What happens? We still want you. That said, I realise it isn’t as black and white as I am writing it, but I figured this is how it could come off to some players. I also realise Rooney is a very special player, with the potential of leading Man United to five or ten new titles, and keeping him would have great benefits.
So Rooney leaves, what then?
The most important point for me is selling him to a club outside of the Premier League. A Rooney at Chelsea or City wouldn’t just improve the team he joins by a lot. It also fucks with the team morale, the morale of the fans and ultimately can lead to a very weakened Man United.
The positives would be that Kagawa would finally get to play in his best role, behind Van Persie, and next to Rooneys replacement signing. With Rooney in the club, and on the pitch, Kagawa is very often pushed out to the left attacking midfield position. He is good at it, but he is A LOT better when he gets to play centrally. When Shinji is given the ball, faced forward and with team members moving, he is in my opinion just as good at orchestrating attacks as Cazorla, Mata and David Silva. He just has not been given the chance too many times. With Rooney in the club, Kagawa tends to get the short end of the stick when we put our starting XI, and Wayne is given the central position. And don’t get me wrong, Wayne is a fantastic CAM/SS, but it has kind of been crippling Shinji in many ways. They tend to run into eachothers’ space, and what happens is that we lose a valuable passing option by both of them having the tendency to drift into the middle of the pitch.
A replacement would also have to be made. Not necessarily because we don’t have players to fill the gaps ability-wise, but because with a world star leaving, you need a boost. You need a signing that shows that United means business. We mean to win it again in 2013/2014. If Rooney leaves, I see Kagawa claming the role Rooney has had this season, with a top class LAM/CAM coming in to take the wide left position. That would be the ideal way to utilize both Kagawa, Van Persie and the new guy.
Rooney is convinced to stay, how do we solve this?
First off, an apology way bigger than last time. This is going to take a lot of time to heal. He will never be our captain or vice-captain now. He is going to have to find a way to make it up to his team mates and the fans, and find his way into the top form Wayne Rooney that we all know is world class.
In the formation department, Moyes will have to figure out if he wants Rooney as a midfielder, as a support striker, as a part of a three man attack behind Van Persie. Best case scenario for me, would be to have a fully motivated Wayne Rooney being part of a United attacking force next season, that has worked out a way for Kagawa and Rooney to play together. Having watched Steven Pienaar talk about how Moyes works on specific movement details in the attacking part of the game, I am pretty sure that the offensive movement patterns and team play between Rooney and Kagawa is only going to get better, and eventually flourish into something fantastic. We have seen glimpses this season, and there is no reason to think that it is not going to get even better.
If Rooney stays, the only position we have to strengthen, is the midfield position. Someone to play next to Carrick, or replace him long term. Perhaps Moyes brings Fellaini with him, or looks to Scotland where he has bought many players from during his time as Everton manager. A lot of fans want Victor Wanyama, and he could be the machine we need to control the midfield. With such an attacking line-up as we usually send out on the pitch, and seeing how Carrick has become more directly involved with the offensive play, a midfielder that can box-to-box it up, or be our anchor would be great. If Rooney stays, we can focus on that. Because our offensive 5-6 players are more than good enough with Rooney, Kagawa, RvP, Welbeck, Nani, Young, Cleverley, Valencia and the young players like Januzaj and Powell coming through.
With or Without Roo
Whether Rooney stays or leaves, he most definately deserves appreciation for his time here. Since he joined us in 2004, he has been our talisman. Our star player. Our warrior, our winner. He started out as an immature kid who just loved the game. He was sent off for an ironic applause in the Champions League, he got booked constantly by referees for his big mouth. He has matured with us. He has won countless awards, including PFA player of the year, PFA young player of the year, PFA fans player of the year. He has been on team of the season, he has won 5 league titles, 2 league cups, 3 community shields and of course the Champions League in 2007/2008.
Most importantly, he was always an instrumental part of us the team winning the titles. He worked his ass off for them, and we should be thankful for that. No matter how betrayed we feel, we should thank him for what he did for us.