It’s hard to say if Wayne Rooney was feigning injury in order to avoid playing for Manchester United or it was the club using that excuse in order to explain why he hasn’t been playing for them in the most recent friendly matches. Despite the animosity between the sides at this point, ruling out a very good season from the England forward would be a bit hasty.
Rooney has been in a situation where he’s wanted to leave United before. It came, just like last season and what this offseason offers, with bad form, injury, and some sort of feud with the manager. At the end, it resulted with Rooney signing a new contract, and helping United cruise to a league title in 2011 and the Champions League final.
For now, it looks like Rooney is immensely unhappy. With United not selling him to Chelsea, with David Moyes putting him behind Robin van Persie in the rotation, with the way the club and Alex Ferguson have made him look to fans and the general public: As a spoiled rich player who disrespected the greatest manager who ever lived.
But Rooney just wants to be happy, and play somewhere he feels respected. Maybe he deserves to be recognized as the best player on a team, maybe he doesn’t. That’s not the point. The point is that over the last year, he hasn’t exactly been getting the star treatment from the club despite working very hard on the field, regardless of the position he’s been put in and the numbers (12 goals and 10 assists) he produced.
Rooney shouldn’t be a substitute striker, and Moyes knows that. Some of the things Moyes has been saying seem to be some directive from above. Unlike Ferguson, Moyes isn’t in a position where he can say whatever he feels like, and his words equal what the club’s stand on a matter is. For now, he’s still someone who needs to prove himself, and it seems that running prarllel with his failure to secure a big-name signing for the midfield is also his handling of the Wayne Rooney situation.
Rooney might sulk and use other tactics to try and push his way out of the club in the next three weeks before the end of the transfer deadline, but Rooney knows that he’s not a wonderkid anymore. At 27, every season left to make the most of your football career is precious, and if he does remain a Manchester United player by the end of August, you can expect a very good season from him, as long as Moyes actually uses him correctly.
Rooney might be a poster child for a lot of the things that are wrong with the modern day British footballer, but he’s never been blamed for not giving everything on the field. At the end of the day, if he’s a starting Manchester United player this season, happy or not, he’ll be once again one of the best players in the Premier League, just without smiling too much about it.