|photo by freezelight||via PhotoRee|
Yesterday's Column Kicked Up a Bit of a Fuss. Can't imagine why.... All it discussed was the apparently very real possibility that one of Manchester United's best players, indeed its very talisman, may be leaving the club after a significant dustup with the manager.
I obviously take no credit at all for breaking the story, or even doing anything more than reporting on the blog that it had broken in multiple newspapers across the UK. That I was able to relate this news more quickly than most others was due to a simple accident of geography, as the real action (and reaction) on the story hotted up after most web readers in England (and Europe for that matter) were asleep.
Bedtime in England means the early part of the evening here in the US, or just about the time I was finishing my report on the City - Blackpool game..... Before publishing that story for the next day's blog I decided to check my Twitter account, which was (figuratively, not literally) exploding with reports about Rooney at that very moment in time. I quickly re-wrote the column to offer a brief overview of the Rooney situation, and posted a link to one of the many newspaper articles that had just begun appearing online at that late hour in the UK.
After posting the column, I also wrote several comments and notes in various footie websites that I frequent. The vitriol my posts received was somewhat impressive, with one reader branding it "shameful underhanded spamming," as if I had made the story up out of whole cloth. I'd like to know if that same reader feels differently now that the entire football world has been riveted by the saga that is Wayne Rooney.
Let Me Be Very Clear: I don't want Wayne Rooney to leave Manchester United. I hope Wayne Rooney doesn't leave Manchester United. But when even sources close to the club, specifically some of them connected to MUTV, acknowledge the story's existence, it would be naïve to think that there's no shred of truth to it. In fact, some reporters claim the story has been developing for months.
I'm certain something is going on between Sir Alex and his star striker. That much is clear, and beyond any
shadow of a doubt. What is going on is much harder to pin down, and I don't pretend to know anything more than what I have read or already written about. Has Sir Alex been protecting his star player from certain abuse after accusations of his extramarital affairs hit the English tabloids? It's certainly possible. Is Sir Alex furious at Rooney, and punishing him by starting him only four times to date this season? Again, certainly a possibility. Neither of those plausible story lines would be unprecedented: one has only to look back at the Gaffer's illiustrious career to see examples of both kinds of behavior with players in the past.
What I Also Know For Sure is This: I'm on Sir Alex's Side on This One. My love for United is bigger than any one player, even if the player in question is Wayne Rooney. Although I was incredibly disappointed (as I've written previously in the blog) when David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo left the club, my love for the team didn't diminish in any way. In fact, truth be told I've become an even more rabid United fan the last several years. So if the guy in charge of the squad decides it's time for Rooney to move on, so be it. I'll get over it.
To be Sure, I'd be Disappointed -- for all that Roo has done over his time at United, and not just last season; for what he has grown to mean to the club, especially since the departure of CR7; for the sense that he was the next in the long line of United standouts who were intent on playing all, or at the very least, the most meaningful years of their career, at Old Trafford. Yes, I'll be disappointed for all that and more. But I will not hand in my fan card, or suddenly become a supporter of another English football club. I'm a United fan, not born and bred, but by choice. I intend to stay one.
Would United be better off with Rooney gone? I don't think so. In fact, even if we had unlimited funds (which we don't, a la City), who out there would one pick to replace Rooney? To me, he's one of a kind, and no one else in the world springs immediately to mind. It's similar to the situation with Ronaldo; there are no replacements for players like that. There are others who play the same position, often very skillfully, but there are no replacement for one-of-a-kind players.
Rooney's hustle, drive and ambition have endeared him to almost every United fan over the years. This same determination in the face of any adversity may be what's compelling him to bite the hand that has fed him all along. If this gambit is a negotiating ploy, he'd better be careful, because my sense is that Fergie's a pretty good poker player, and he holds a lot of the cards.
If Rooney is truly intent on leaving, he should be careful what he wishes for. Barcelona, Real, Chelsea and City may indeed be interested, but not many men have left the Red Devils and gone on to greater heights. And if Rooney thinks the world is against him now, wait and see what happens if he takes the supposed £100 million offer to move into the "noisy neighbor's" house. Now that would be a sight to see: Number 10 in sky blue returning to Old Trafford.
Sir Alex didn't appear overly worried last night at the Blackburn - Sunderland game, and Ican't wait to hear what he has to say in his press conference tomorrow. Let's hope Rooney's departure isn't already preordained, but if it is, be prepared -- and go easy on the shameful underhanded spamming.
I'm farlieonfootie for October 19.