As reports continue about the future of Wayne Rooney, it is in his current club's best interests to act swiftly.
On 19 October 2010, Wayne Rooney announced his decision to leave Manchester United – the “club in decline”, the one he was tired of “carrying”.
Three days later – and with a new contract swiftly signed – he changed his mind.
“I’m sure the fans over the last week have felt let down by what they’ve read and seen,” he said at the time. “The fans have been upset, but my message to them is that I care for the club. I just want it to continue to be successful.”
Looking back on those strange few days, Rooney later reflected that handing in a transfer request was a mistake.
“Sometimes you see yourself somewhere else and that plays on your mind and makes you say things you shouldn’t have,” he said.
Fast-forward three-and-a-half years and Rooney’s future is again in the spotlight. And while he has remained quiet following Sir Alex Ferguson’s claims that he has asked to leave the club once more, it appears the player no longer has United’s best interests at heart; this time he is looking out solely for himself.
Because if those fan-appeasing sound-bites from 2010 are to be believed, all the player wanted was United’s sustained success, signings that matched his ambition, trophies to reward a collective effort. But it turns out those signings have rendered him an extra in a show in which he was once the star.
Last time he asked to leave because he felt United weren’t good enough. This time it appears to be because they are too good; or at least good enough to make do without him.
And for all the talk of interest from abroad and of possible resolutions with incoming manager David Moyes, the simple fact is United must act quickly to end this one way or the other. They cannot afford for the saga to run all summer, for one player’s dissatisfaction to cloud the club’s most important pre-season in years.
Back in 2010, Ferguson acted quickly: from certain exit to a secure future inside just three days. He took every quote and every rumour and stamped on them with a headline of his own. But this time his actions and his honesty suggest he doesn’t care…and if he doesn’t, you can be sure the club don’t either.
Even in retirement, their outgoing manager will always have United’s best interests at heart.
So the fact is a simple one: If United intend to sell Rooney, they should do so as quickly as possible. And if they don’t, they should release a statement to that effect. Not with the addition of a new contract, just with a fact.
There are ways to negotiate new deals. And while forcing the club’s hand worked last time, you sense it won't be repeated.
This is a story already growing tiresome. And should it continue, it will also have a negative effect on a club for whom they will hope the transition from Ferguson to Moyes is as smooth as possible.
For that to happen they require unity, positive headlines and swift actions. There is no place for the Rooney saga in those plans. The only saga Moyes will hope for is one of sustained success, with players who let their football do the talking.
What are your thoughts on the Rooney situation? Should he stay or is it time for him to go?
image: © nasmac