We’ve heard all the old standard spin in the past. ‘There’s no value in the market ‘ and then looked on as Man City bought players like Ya Ya Toure for £24 million and David Silva for £26 million. Two players who you’d think would surely rather be playing in front of 75,000 crowds at Old Trafford for a world-famous club like United than across town in front of 46,000 at the Etihad for City. So it obviously comes down to wages, there’s a degree to which we can talk about footballers as being ‘too mercenary’, but as a footballer you get maybe 4 or 5 years at the top of your game in your life to earn top dollar, so as a human being you’d be a mug to play for £50k or 100k a week less for a team who you may prefer emotionally but at the end of the day, will cast you off when you’re best days are gone. The Problem at United still remains that footballers who expect top wages as top players at a top club is you’ll look at how many millions are being taken out every year in interest payments and consultancy fees and think, well if you can afford that, why are you being so cheap in these negotiations. As the old saying goes – money talks , bullshit walks.
United have spent big in the past, but never consistently and for all the managers before Ferguson there was that frustration of not getting the players they wanted. Wilf McGuinness wanted to buy defenders Colin Todd and Mick Mills, both fantastic players. Big Ron Atkinson was keen to buy Terry Butcher to play alongside Paul McGrath at Centre half – what a partnership that would have been and Tommy Docherty wanted to buy Peter Shilton, and though the United board agreed with the large transfer fee from Stoke, they wouldn’t pay him his weekly wages which were between £200 and £300 a week, so instead he went to Nottingham Forest in division 2, because Brian Clough could and would pay him what he wanted. United then finished 3rd in the league in a season where Paddy Roche played several games in nets, Forest meanwhile got promoted on goal difference above Bolton Wanderers and went on to win the league and two European Cups because unlike United they had a world-class keeper that would have cost United as a club an extra 2,000 quid a year.
Now that for me is the worry with Rooney, because despite the ever-increasing sponsorship money pouring into United and the seemingly efficient businesslike exploitation of the Manchester United brand worldwide, we still seem reluctant to match the top squad wages on offer at competing teams in Europe. So Wayne is effectively on £1million a month at United, way above most other players in the team and to get Wayne Rooney off United’s books will save them a good 6-8 million quid a year.
Whether it’s true or not the rumour going around is that Rooney was miffed at being dropped from the starting line-up against Real Madrid at Old Trafford. To be fair I think 90% of United fans were also shocked at his omission that night and have the same sneaking feeling that had he started we’d have won quite easily. He’d had a bust up, so the rumour goes, with sir Alex and basically said if you’re not going to pick me why don’t you sell me, or words to that effect – hence the ‘Rooney puts in transfer request’ stories in the press. It’s all guess-work as to what both Rooney’s and the Club’s motivations are behind this mini soap opera. As usual when it’s season ticket renewal time, United are linked with desirable players early doors i.e Ronaldo’s coming back , Fabregas , Thiago etc. The season has now started and still the ‘Rooney is he staying or going (maybe to Chelsea)’ , still rumbles on. Is there a suspicion that Rooney isn’t what he once was given the amount of games at the top-level he’s played since he made his stunning debut at 16 for Everton, after all it is wearing on the joints and Rooney does smoke and is said to like fast food and a drink so United are reluctant to up his wages and give him a new improved contract or is it simply that Rooney feels he could get an extra 50-100,000 quid a week at Chelsea or elsewhere plus a percentage of his transfer fee if he’s sold without putting in a formal request.
The worry is how this is effecting team spirit at United and whether United are prepared to continue to say to Rooney , you’ve got two years left on your contract so play your best for United until you’re free to go. The whole Rooney to Chelsea saga does make Monday night’s game an enticing one. Looking at Chelsea up front with Demba Ba, Torres and Lukaku, you can easily see how Rooney would definitely fit in like a missing piece in the jigsaw and that could be all the current Chelsea team need to go on and win the league at a canter.
We do have major problems in terms of available central midfield players. Who plays alongside Carrick, is it Giggs, Cleverly or Anderson or do we try Jones there. Cleverly is still learning , Anderson is suffering from a lack of confidence and inconsistency due in the main to the number of long-term injuries he’s picked up since arriving at Old Trafford so has never been able to show just how good he really is and Kagawa is more of an out-and-out attacking midfielder so would be played out of position (as Anderson has been ever since he arrived at Old Trafford) and have to adapt to a different type of game.
For all the deserved plaudits poured on to Van Persie after his excellent first season , Rooney to me is still key for United whether on or off form. Rooney has far too much ability and is a natural leader and naturally takes responsibility and never hides in games. Perhaps he will be sold in the next week or so, but against Chelsea we’ll need him in our starting line-up if we’re going to spoil Mourinho’s day and I believe we will. Chelsea will come to United and be satisfied with a point and my worry is that given the amount of cynical fouls on and off the ball committed by Ivanovic on Benteke the other night at Stamford Bridge ( why wasn’t he sent off), there’s the danger that United could pick up some ill afforded early season injuries and God forbid one of them is Van Persie Carrick or Vidic. My only hope is that Wayne Rooney, if he is set on leaving us, puts in the sort of performance that will have Mourinho wishing he’d signed him 6 weeks ago, after all it was back in 2010 that City tried to sign him and it was a done and dusted deal for a while and we all remember what Rooney did to City in that Derby. My prediction for Monday night – Manchester United 3 Chelsea 1.