The timing of Wayne Rooney’s statement released last night was insensitive, so too was it’s nature. The timing was insensitive on Rooney’s behalf, the nature of it on the club and the owners.
Rooney claims he has not been given, “assurances
Had Rooney been watching last nights Champions League victory over Bursaspor, he couldn’t fail but notice the partisan support towards club and manager, yet what would have been just as noticeable, was the manner in which the Reds went about their task. Following on from a catalogue of recent poor performances, it was another underwhelming show from Sir Alex’s men.
Bursaspor were bad. The sort of fodder that would have been put to the sword in the not too distant past of the marauding front three of Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez. Two thirds of that world class triumvirate has gone, so too the Premier League titles and European Cup they acquired. That in itself speaks volumes about why Rooney wants to leave, and does dampen the constant reassurances Ferguson tries to give when he rebuffs suggestions his side are on the slide.
However, whilst the vehemence of the fans was directed at Rooney via banners and terrace songs, the undercurrent of discontent towards the Glazers has yet more substance. The squad Rooney now looks at every day in training is a shadow of what it was, and although there is promise in the likes of Chris Smalling, Javier Hernandez and Federico Macheda, at present it remains just that. From what was the finished article – two successive Champions League finals – United are now relying on unfulfilled potential to come good. It is hard to argue things haven’t taken a step backwards, even harder to argue that Ferguson would have let it happen entirely on his own terms.
Essentially, Rooney is being selfish. He was happy whilst the sun was shining, during those three successive championships, in Moscow, and prior to Rome. But at the first sign of cloud obscuring the rays, he wants out, believing the club cannot match his ambitions and win the trophies he craves. This being the club and the manager who have made him into what he is today, the club and manager who have polished that rough diamond into a sparkling gem. This is not loyalty, this is not respect.
An interesting comparison to draw would be to his mate Steven Gerrard. Twice Gerrard could have moved to Chelsea, twice his loyalty – or blind faith – kept him at Anfield. Had Gerrard opted to move to the Blues he could have reflected on more silverware and prestige than he currently has. The morale of the story here is though, that he was prepared to stay and battle, to try to improve his team and bring glory to the club he loves, where moving would have been the easy option, but the sense of gratitude he had towards Liverpool kept him there. Only Steven Gerrard knows whether he regrets this – and with his side currently sat in 19th place in the premier league with Chelsea top – maybe he might, but at least he was prepared to give back to a cause which had given him so much.
Beyond this saga, when Rooney either stays or goes, once the anti-scouse songs have died down and the banners put away, the Red Army will not be quiet for long, and simmering already is a reinvigorated assault on the American ownership. It is a pertinent question to ask as to why Rooney hasn’t been given his assurances, if all is well at the club? Ferguson may claim he has money, he may claim he can sign the top players if he sees fit, and that the squad is healthy and that United are in a strong position to compete, but Rooney’s directives were hypothetical, yet his reassurances were still not in the affirmative.
The word ‘respect’ has been one batted back and forth from all parties through the various press gatherings and it is this perceived lack of it from Rooney which has rankled the Old Trafford natives. It is those same faithful who would quickly depart whichever faltering business they worked for in similar situations, but the situation is not the same, this is football; tribal, religious football.
Rooney’s choice to leave Manchester United is one made of morality, whether he is right or wrong to go is a decision he needs to make, and by stating his worries and grievances and by declaring he wants to leave, at least he is being honest and front on about the issue. Can the same be said about the club?