After a decade of mostly very successful seasons and football, Wayne Rooney is once again somewhat, more than an ever, an unsettled figure at Manchester United, caring too much about what fans think of him and how he is presented by the club through the media.
There is somewhat of a version war between Rooney, who wants the club to declare he never asked to leave (not including 2010), and Ferguson and his followers, making it quite clear that Rooney handed in a transfer request at the end of last season.
Now, the rumors suggest that Rooney will decide on his future, which pretty much means further pushing for an exit or beginning to calm down the choppy waters around him and possibly even more around David Moyes, who is presented by those “wishing him well” as someone way in over his head. Friendly matches not being won don’t say anything. Big-name players not wanting to be a part of United is a little bit more worrying.
So Rooney wants to hear the fans at the Old Trafford cheering for him, unlike last season’s finale, when he was booed by some when he received his championship medal. There is no Robin van Persie this summer to fill in the void of a player like him leaving. Rooney feeling unwelcome means worse football and form than before, and maybe finally getting that bus ticket to London he seems to be waiting for.
The transfers aren’t done until the end of August, but bringing in a player once the season begins seems too much like a panic move from a club that has always been about the exact opposite. Planning, confidence. The first test will be the Charity Shield match against Wigan on August 11. Robin van Persie came in quite late last season as well, but he was being chased all summer long. The players United have been trying to sign this summer are no longer an option.
Rooney leaving means Moyes doesn’t just need to replace him, but he’s left without a suitable solution to his central midfielder problem. Fellaini seems like the most likely player United will pursue at the moment, but the current status is a team without someone they feel confident about playing next to Michael Carrick. Rooney, with all of his personality faults that sometimes seep on to his ability on the pitch, can do that role quite well, even if it isn’t something he likes to.
And replacing Rooney in general? A striker who can play anywhere on the front line, and in the midfield? Maybe Moyes doesn’t plan for him to be in their lineup, you cant plan ahead for a season without having adequate backup. Rooney, like it or not, might just be the best sub in the world, if that’s what United are planning for him to be. While he might not be a fan favorite for his behavir and crossing Alex Ferguson one time too many, a United without the attraction properties of the past just won’t be able to replace him.