Blog: Rooney rebellion highlights lack of competitiveness

Sir Alex Ferguson remained unperturbed during this turbulent week for United. His reflections on Rooney’s rebellious statement to the press presented a man who was keen to get on with his job, while his press were keen to chase the story. Depending on how conspiratorial you are in your outlook, this sensational side-tracking could just be down to another case of intrepid work from the master of mind-games and well timed publicity stunts.

Besides the fact that it seems strange that Ferguson should remain so tranquil when one of his players had dared to cross him (Stam, Keane, Beckham, Van Nistelrooy anyone?), none of us were as appalled by Rooney’s point as we were by his front to question his knighted manager. The outraged words of the press and the fiery repulsion of United’s fans focused entirely on the 24-year-olds astonishing arrogance and potential move to Manchester City. They were not talking about how average United’s season has been so far. In fact, none of us have, really.

Ever since they were completely outclassed by Barcelona in the Champions League final of 2009 and following the exit of their superstar game-winner Cristiano Ronaldo, United have not been the same side that won 3 successive league titles between 2007 – 2009. Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival at Chelsea has inaugurated a frighteningly effective and devastatingly consistent winning machine – one very different from the one Ferguson tamed under Jose Mourinho – and this has highlighted United’s inconsistency so that they are now on par with the likes of, dare I say it, Arsenal, and Manchester City.

The league table tells this story. It is not lost on me that Ferguson usually rallies his sides to have a charge later on (and who am I to question the ability of Sir Alex’s side?) – But to suggest Rooney may have a point, well, is fair. Under their manager, United have been synonymous with victory, they have been synonymous with destroying teams and having a line-up – injuries or not – that can compete with anyone in the world. But it just is not the case at the moment, and this, I think, is a far more pressing point for any follower of United than a misguided moment of their main striker.

It is fanciful to say this has been dreamt up by anyone at Old Trafford, but all the attention following United’s average performance against Buraspor was still focused on a man nowhere near the Old Trafford pitch. Something particularly convenient for a time when the man in charge needs to get his house back in order.

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