…on his reasons for leaving
• If we believe Sir Alex Ferguson, then “you can only guess yourself” is the answer. Rooney declared his intention to leave in the summer, at a time when Manchester United fans thought that Rooney would be glad to come back to the safety of his domestic outfit after a dross World Cup with England.
• Rooney’s personal problems have been extremely well documented, as has his desire to repent and save his marriage. Is it not possible that he sees a clean break from Manchester (and its escorts) as a way to achieve this goal? A fresh start at work and a fresh start in his marriage?
• Or could it be that Rooney has merely predicted the downturn of a great club? During the summer his Manchester neighbours bought Milner, Balotelli, Silva, Boateng, Toure and Kolarov. United bought Hernandez, Smalling and Bebe. Has Wayne’s head been turned by the progression by Europe’s elite, while his club has, at best, stood still?
• Inevitably Manchester United fans will feel that Rooney has shown disloyalty, and he will therefore receive the wrath of fans and media. After all, this is the man who declared just a few months ago that he wanted to remain at Manchester United because they were the “best club in the world”.
• But is this not the same man that revealed a t-shirt while playing for Everton that said “Once a blue, always a blue”? Maybe Man Yoo fans should not be surprised.
• Perhaps the most pertinent question is whether Rooney owes United anything in terms of loyalty. He has stagnated at the club recently, is not even a regular starter at present, and has seen his reputation decline. Is it not therefore natural that he would want a fresh start? Why does he have a duty to stay?
…on Manchester United
• The big question remains: Is this the end of the empire? Cristiano Ronaldo leaving was a blip, because he had almost been bred for Real Madrid: he was a Galactico. Wayne Rooney is different. He is a North West lad, and until now if you are from the North, your pinnacle is Manchester United. Manchester City have changed all this. The king is dead. Long live the king.
• But there is a way out of this scenario. Fergie has previously said that the money is there to spend. If this is true, and he has a war chest, then the money can be invested wisely. If Benzema, Sneijder and Lloris are purchased for next season, United will have the opportunity to rebuild. Tabloid reports saying that United may never recover are guesswork at best. Above all, United fans retain the mantra: in Fergie we trust.
• Concerningly, it is more likely that there will be little money to re-invest. The money will pay off the considerable interest payments the club must match, and in a year’s time David Gill will be all smiles declaring smug happiness at United’s improved financial figures.
• Perhaps the only genuine positive in the story lies with the England team. Rooney has been stagnant for a while, culminating in his outbursts at supporters after the Algeria game.
• Given the fact that this stagnation has stretched onto the domestic stage, a move for Rooney could well help England. He has the demeanour of a player and a man who needs motivation and drive, and he requires both to function at his highest level. United’s loss could be England’s gain.
…on where he will go
• Real Madrid is the automatic choice. Jose Mourinho has admitted both that he would like a striker added to his squad, and that Rooney would be welcome. In addition to this United would clearly prefer to sell abroad than to a Premier League rival. Questions would remain over whether a man who has just grasped English could adapt to foreign life, but a move away from the British tabloid media may seem attractive.
• Closer to home, Man City and Chelsea are the only viable alternatives. In Drogba, Anelka and Lampard, Chelsea have three players over 30 who will need replacing, and a cut-price Rooney is too good an opportunity to miss. City, however, are the loose cannon. Ferguson would surely be loath to sell to his rivals, particularly in terms of reforming the Tevez-Rooney strike force at Eastlands. But City have the money. And if one thing is clear at Manchester United currently, money talks.