Manchester United manager David Moyes’ difficult task of replacing the greatest British manager in history has been made substantially more cumbersome by the speculation surrounding striker Wayne Rooney.
As if the former Everton boss didn’t have enough to worry about – coming in to replace Sir Alex Ferguson after 26 years at Old Trafford, bringing in his own staff and personnel, building working relationships with the staff and players and preparing himself and his squad for the new season as he acclimatizes to the pressure all at once – the last thing he needed was a transfer saga involving his former protégé at Goodison Park.
Moyes has attempted to take a ‘hard line’ stance on the situation – he publicly stated that Rooney was needed to ‘cover’ for Robin van Persie, that he was ‘not for sale’ and the chief executive Ed Woodward echoes his comments insisting the club would be happy to let the 27-year-old run down his contract which expires in 2015.
However, Moyes will need the backing of the board and the owners if a big offer comes in from, for example, Chelsea. Jose Mourinho has stated publicly that Rooney is his primary target this summer and his intention is to bring the England number 10 to Stamford Bridge this summer.
If a big offer comes in for a valuable player whose contract expiration date is getting a little too close for comfort, (especially a player whose wages are astronomically high at £250,000 a week), a player who has handed in a transfer request and has seemed unhappy with his status at the club, the board and the owners may well feel it makes financial sense to sell Rooney.
However, Moyes is going to need to appeal to his employers – if Rooney is allowed to be sold to Chelsea (or anyone else for that matter) it sets a president for every other player at the club, it’ll embarrass Moyes, damage his credibility and challenge his authority as manager.
He’s publicly stated Rooney is not for sale and will remain a Manchester United player – any deviation from that narrative now makes him look weak and foolish, not just to the fans of the club but to his rivals and contemporaries. It sends out the wrong message and it threatens the club’s image as a superpower in world football.
No matter how much of a nuisance Rooney is and how high a bid might come in for him, the club must keep him – at least for this summer – the club and Moyes cannot be seen to lose face on the matter and be held over a barrel by the player. It sets a bad example.
On paper, selling Rooney makes sense but on principle it absolutely cannot be allowed to happen, for the sake of Manchester United and David Moyes’ reputation.
image: © nasmac