Will the press finally turn on Moyes over Rooney World Cup doubt?

Wayne Rooney Euro 2012 England

David Moyes has received an endless supply of sympathy from the English football press throughout his struggles but that could soon change.

Compare the treatment that has been handed out to Manchester United's embattled manager of late to the headlines regarding Andre Villas-Boas that twice scapegoated him to the point of being sacked at Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

By contrast, Moyes has mostly been excused by the big name writers of the national newspapers, many of whom have maintained that all he needs at Old Trafford is time. Even following embarrassing defeats where his tactics were so obviously at fault, or after putting out a team selection that Mr. Functional Roy Hodgson would blush at, he was spared criticism.

Where was this willingness to offer such patience earlier in the season when Spurs' former manager was still figuring out how best to deploy the huge number of new arrivals after Gareth Bale was sold to Real Madrid?

The most probable reason for this difference in treatment is clear. The English press wants him to do well. As a Scot, he is to some extent one of them: a British football manager flying the flag for coaches from these islands. For Moyes to fail is bring uneasy questions up about the faults the mindset of UK football, and how the game is taught and analysed here.

However, Rooney now faces the possibility of being ruled out of playing in the World Cup. If Moyes' panicked attempts to rest him for the rest of the season fail and he isn't fit in time for the tournament, expect the media's tone to drastically change. No longer will United's manager be poor, put-upon David Moyes. The man in the Old Trafford hot seat will soon become the blundering idiot who cost England their best chance at Brazil 2014.

So far, Moyes' incompetence has been something most journalists have been able to keep at arms length, to write about and explain as a largely meaningless or even funny story as United flounder as others battle for the plaudits.

Unfortunately, his uncanny ability to make everything he touches turn to mould looks to have finally crossed the gap between club-level curiosity and a threat to the national security of team England.

He admitted himself that the striker wasn't fit while playing against Bayern Munich, telling post-match reporters that his star man could hardly strike the ball properly while on the field. To the eyes of those observing the game he played like a man dead on his feet.

If Moyes knew this was the case, why was Rooney risked when it was patently clear he wasn't in the right condition for the game? And why admit to making such a ridiculous decision about a key player to the press?

Hodgson himself is hardly the most forward thinking of managers, and he will struggle without United's top league goalscorer, regardless of whether other players are more deserving of selection (which they are) or help make the team as a whole better and more balanced (which they would). Like Moyes, he depends on his most trusted players to do the thinking for him while on the field as he continues to set out the cones and focus on organising his side into the most rigid shapes and formations he can.

If the worst case scenario has happened, and Rooney will struggle to find his form and fitness come June, it's unlikely anyone will have the heart to say "I told you so". Even if he does fully heal in time to lead the line, he may well look rusty having missed the last games of the season.

An injury thought would also have repercussions far beyond England. Without a proper pre-season due to his long lay off, Rooney would return to United next year bloated and under-trained. Having missed the World Cup he'd also likely arrive back at Carrington down in the dumps and in a foul mood, unable to want to play at his best as has been the case when he's been unfocused in the past.

He could even come to resent Moyes for ruining his chances of taking his country all the way in Brazil. After all, having failed to impress at South Africa 2010, the forward himself will be keen to set the record straight and make amends for his awful tournament under Fabio Capello 

Having saddled the club with his £300,000 per week contract, Moyes would then be stuck with an overweight, unhappy player who won't hit form until Christmas at the earliest.

Who knows if van Persie will bother to stick around after this season. Should he jump ship, the United boss would be left short of top-class strikers. In turn, the financial burden of Rooney's existing deal would prevent the signing of a suitable replacement, and United would likely slump back to the same league position as this year, or worse.

And if that happens, Moyes won't have the press in his corner, watching his back and telling him it'll be alright. He'll be the man that over-worked Rooney to the point of injury, leaving England without their talisman.

For the English football press, such a sin is unforgivable, and without the media behind him, Moyes' days would be numbered at Old Trafford.

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