The Rooney Ultimatum: Will He Stay or Will He Go?

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Make no mistake, whatever you think of Wayne Rooney, he’s had an exceptional career at Manchester United.  Scoring goals, assisting goals, complementing great players, being the main man and of course winning trophies. However, his career has hit a fork in the road as his next move will most likely be his last.

“I don’t think Wayne was keen to play simply because he has asked for a transfer. It’s not my decision now. We are not going to let him go. He needs to go away and think over it again.” (BBC)

Sir Alex’s final words on Wayne Rooney sparked a media frenzy which has continued to boil throughout the summer. Shortly after the former Manchester United manager’s comments, Rooney’s camp briefed the press saying the striker never submitted a written transfer request, but  wanted clarification on his position at the club.   Rooney has remained silent throughout most of the saga only to comment he feels his best position is as a striker.  Despite the occasional reports of Rooney looking to stay at United, the constant theme has been his push for a move to Chelsea.

Since Moyes’ arrival at Old Trafford, the speculation has only intensified.  His “not for sale” stance on Rooney hasn’t changed and there’s been little indication that the club are looking to sell.  However, the club and manager may reconsider their position after speculation from the Mirror, a paper whom Rooney’s camp have allegedly briefed multiple times this summer,  that Rooney will submit a formal transfer request sometime this week.

Let’s take a look at some factors which could lead to Rooney either continuing his future at Manchester United or leaving the Theatre of Dreams for good.

Rooney stays:

  • David Moyes: Moyes wants to resurrect Rooney’s career at United and help him feel wanted again. He stated his desire to get the United striker back to his best and eventually beating Sir Bobby Charlton’s goal record.
  • Support from current playing staff, ex-players and club ambassadors: There aren’t more respected men in the game than Sir Bobby Charlton, and he’s come out to the press to remind everyone of his support for Rooney. He wants Rooney to beat his record as well. Ex-players such as Bryan Robson, Paul Scholes, and Gary Neville have all voiced the need for Rooney to stay and remind him that the grass is not always greener. Rio Ferdinand has also gone on record to say Rooney should reconsider leaving as he feels there’s no better place to ply your trade.
  • Club stance: Manchester United have been unwavering on Rooney.  Ed Woodward, United’s new Chief Executive, said there would be little issue in running down players’ contracts, suggesting the club holds all the cards for Wayne’s future.
    • Lack of potential suitors/Wayne wants to stay in England: In June, there were rumours that PSG were interested in Rooney and that United were willing to sell. However, Rooney reportedly expressed little desire to leave England and since then, PSG bought Cavani from Napoli.
    • Chelsea: Selling to Chelsea would be considered by most, if not all, a major mistake. Strengthening your rivals is never good and granting Wayne his wish risks to put United in a bad light.
  • Change of heart: Players are human and while Wayne Rooney is known to be thick, he may realize that his best option is to recommit his future and finish his career at Old Trafford.

Rooney leaves:

  • Mourinho factor: Jose Mourinho is one of the world’s most coveted managers. He’s won titles wherever he’s been and other than his time at Madrid, his players loved playing for him.  Lampard recently commented on Jose’s ability to get the best out of his players, serving as an explanation for Chelsea’s success during his first spell there.  Reportedly, Rooney has spoken with his lads at Chelsea who have waxed lyrical about Mourinho and look to have convinced the United striker a move to Chelsea is his best option to reignite his career.
  • Seeking a new challenge: While Rooney could do this at United, there are suggestions he’s all but burnt his bridges at the club and that it’s best for him to further his career elsewhere.
  • Continued presence of Sir Alex: I personally see this as an excuse but as the story goes, Rooney feels Sir Alex’s presence in the background would still prove troublesome for his position at the club.
  • Paul Stretford: Stretford has been a thorn in United’s side for some time now. He was behind Rooney’s formal transfer request in 2010. Now he’s  twisting Moyes’ words and using it to say Rooney is “angry and confused”.  It’s clear where Stretford would rather see his client go.
  • United signing a marquee player: If we’re going to let Rooney join Chelsea, we have little choice but to bring in a big signing of our own. It makes little sense otherwise.

(Courtesy of John Northcroft, Sunday Times football correspondent who also happens to a good friend of Moyes)

Upon reflecting on his decision to submit a transfer request in 2010, Wayne Rooney spoke to talkSport in September 2012:

“Sometimes as a player you make bad choices and bad decisions, and I think that’s what happened…I realise I had made a mistake. I went back in to see David Gill and the manager. I told them I wanted to stay and be successful in the future.”

He also got a bumper contract with his wages being reported as one of the best in the league (around £250k a week).  Unless he’s certain that he will be sold to Chelsea, he would be wise not to submit a transfer request.  After stating it was the biggest mistake of his life and he wouldn’t do it again, submitting a transfer request and then not being to sold Chelsea would severely cripple his relationship with the fans. Not only that, but he would forego his loyalty bonus.  Manchester United fan, Stel Greco (@StelGreco) details what Rooney would miss out on:

“My understanding is this: Rooney has 2 years left on his contract. Any transfer without him submitting a formal request would result in United paying the remainder of his contract (£250k/week x 52 weeks = £13m). However, if Rooney hands in an official request, he forfeits this, losing out on a £13m bumper payout. How desperate is he to leave?! He clearly wants to have his cake AND eat it!!!”

Imagine if Sir Alex decided not to keep his conversation with Rooney private. Some United fans have stated how Fergie might have been in the wrong for starting this whole saga and putting Moyes in a tough position.  However according to John Northcroft, Rooney had already decided to leave even before Moyes was announced as manager.  You could say Sir Alex’s comments put Moyes in a win-win situation.  If Rooney leaves, it will not be because Moyes was unable to convince him. It will be because of Wayne’s stubbornness and unwillingness for a fresh clean slate under Moyes.  If Rooney stays, Moyes will look good for keeping a world class player and potentially getting him back to his best.  Otherwise, if Sir Alex said nothing and Rooney’s camp made the same sounds, more pressure would be put on Moyes because no one would have known Rooney wanted to leave before Moyes’ arrival. It would have undermined Moyes’ reign before he even started managing his first Premier League match as Manchester United’s new manager.

During this saga, there has also been moments of selective journalism.  Moyes’ comments about Rooney being behind Robin van Persie were taken out of context and Rooney’s camp released information that Wayne was “angry and confused”. As Mandy Henry, MUTV presenter, said, “Hardly anyone using ‘I want to be able to play the two of them’ ” in reference to van Persie and Rooney.

While some will want to point all the blame at Stretford, Rooney does have a say in what’s released and he should take some responsibility for what has transpired.  After all, if he wanted to stay, he would have come out to say so.

With speculation from the Mirror about Rooney submitting a transfer request this week,  could this spell the end of Rooney’s career at Manchester United?  He may not have lived up to the hype when he first donned the United shirt, but despite some of his frustrations while being here, he’s had a great career thus far at United.  I personally do not think he deserves to beat Sir Bobby Charlton’s record but the numbers speak for themselves.  Whatever happens, Wayne Rooney has been a great servant for Manchester United and he’s been a joy to watch.

Wayne Rooney stats to-date:

Games: 403
Goals: 197
Assists: 95

Thanks for reading.

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  • As an outsider and taking an independent view I would say the press & Media have a lot to answer for and not just with Man Utd. People get angry by some of the things they read because they start to believe it. Out of context is the main objective to sell a story and many time the are found to be false anyway. Why are they allowed to get away with it? Technically it is a form of assault on individuals because the are lied to believe a lie. Football clubs around the world should take a stand together in having only reposts made by club and players which could be clearly seen as fact and for direct for the horse’s mouth. Most of the time they feed of each like a cancer and someone must get the ball rolling to attempting to stop the spread of this illness!

  • Thanks for your comment John. That certainly would be ideal. My personal view is not enough fans are demanding for full context quotes. It’s the age of soundbites and instant information.

  • Thanks for the information regarding a players £ % when he does/does not hand in a transfer its cleared up a lot,as for the members of the press who take things out of context I think David Moyes will eventually toughen up and start barring certain members of the press in the way Sir Alex did.As for Wayne Rooney I hope he stays and gets back to his best !

  • Wayne is still keen to stay at ‘OT’ despite any rumour linking him,he wanted all truth relating to his career at ‘OT’ looking a fresh starts simply implies, a fresh start under David Moyes, for the remainder of his career.

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