By: Mike Newell
Someone today asked me the three most burning questions every Man United supporter (which I am one) Why does he want to leave? where will he go? and how does this effect United going forward?
The second question is the easiest and most straight forward to answer so I’ll start there. In my opinion and as far as I’ve seen most football pundits agree there are only 4 solid and maybe 5 clubs in the world that would have the money to buy him and pay his salary demands, which most experts are saying is close to the 200,000 pounds a week level. Those clubs are Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Barcelona, the 5th club could be Inter Milan but I’ll explain why there are a distance 5th in a moment.
3 of those 4 clubs have the world wide pedigree to match the ambition of a player like Rooney, the 4th Man City simply have the money. Many football writers especially in England have said that Rooney could not and would not want to survive outside of England, most view Wayne as a bloke, a 24 year old who is the classic Pub and chips boy. I think this is a terribly misguided view of him and I think he could adapt well in a place like Spain. Granted it would take time for him the warm to life outside of the Isles, and frankly it would take just as long if not longer for Spaniards to warm to him but it’s more than possible.[picappgallerysingle id=”9954556″]
If he were to go to Spain to would be a race between Real and Barca as they are the only two clubs that would have the resources to buy him. Though I have a feeling that Barcelona would not be as keen as Real to sign Wayne. Consider that the Catalans spent 40 million Euro to buy another striker, David Villa over the summer, and they have some issues with their finances in regards to player salaries. They are not exactly in a position where they have to sell a player to buy a player, but they would probably want to take one of their many forwards off the pay role in order to fit Rooney in. Plus Barca’s style of play may not fit his style as he likes to drop into the midfield and collect the ball, there in no need to do that at Barca with Inesita and Xavi.
If he were to stay in England Chelsea would be the more likely destination over Manchester City. Although City would be more than able to outbid Chelsea, no one can see United selling their start asset to their cross town rivals. The only way Wayne ends up at Eastlands is if we walks out a free agent. In a tactical point of view he would fit Chelsea better as Carlo Ancelotti can revert to a 4-4-2 with Didier Drogba as his strike partner, which would make Chelsea and unholy power in world football. However what may hold both clubs back from buying him for the time being is the UFEA financial fair play law that takes effect starting next season. In basic terms the law states that no club can spend more than it make in profit, and as both clubs especially City have massive wage bills they will not be too eager to add a hefty salary to the books unless they can unload one in return.
This is also the reason Inter Milan the reigning Italian and European champions are not really Rooney contenders, they are trying to get in financial shape before the rule kicks in. Also they have probably the hottest striker in the world right now in Samuel Eto’o, so there is no pressing need for him.
Which leaves one one club that fits Rooney both financially and tactically and that’s Real Madrid. First, Madrid have the money and players both to pay United’s fee and possible need for replacement players (Rumor has it Karim Benzema and Lassana Diarra plus cash in return). Second, Real and United have a recent history of doing business, (David Beckham 2003, Ruud Van Nistelrooy 2006, Christiano Ronaldo 2009). Third, Madrid can team Rooney up with his old forward partner Ronaldo to form one of the best forward combinations in world football. Also Real manager Jose Mourinho has always be fond of Wayne as a player.
Will he be wiling to go to Madrid? No one but Rooney and his agent Paul Stretford will know, but with both player and United this is the best outcome of a bad situation.
So now that I’ve covered where he could go, let me attempt to answer the question of why he wants to go. No one honestly knows outside of Wayne, his agent and maybe his wife if she’s still talking to him, but here’s my guess. It’s a combination of a few things, as he said in his brief statement today, does not feel the club can attract top world talent as it once did. Now the fan in me says he’s full of it, but when you step back and look at it he may have a point.
The club over the past few seasons under the ownership of the Glazer family, they have saddled the club with massive debts that have now effected the clubs ability to purchase the type of talent it once could. However unlike most I do not believe the owners are totally to blame here. Sir Alex has not shown a great interest in buying big name players in the past few years, instead looking to build a new generation through young players.
Another reason for “Wazza” to want out is Money…he can’t deny this, he wants Ronaldo, Kaka money. He’s already turned down a 150K a week contact from United, and is looking for a deal in the 200K-250K a week range. At that level only Man City can and would give him that kind of money. There is another theory behind the money ploy, he could be trying to play United’s management for an improved contact. Many players have used the threat of leaving as a way to gain more money during contact talks, though it looks like United are not moving from their 150K offer. Also tied to the money theme is the opportunity to build the “Rooney brand”. Should he move outside of England this would be an chance for him to build his name to the mass public outside of the U.K.
The last major reason I think he might be leaving is the chance to escape the media crush around his private life. In England the tabloid rags follow his every step and misstep. Example being the recent allegations of infidelity with a high priced hooker. Also shortly after the World Cup he was found smoking and drunk in the streets of Manchester urinating on walls. Now I’m not condoning his actions if they are indeed true, but after multiple intrusions into his private life he may just want to escape England and start fresh.
This is not to say that he won’t be followed on the continent, but newspapers have less of a tendency to report on players private lives in Italy or Spain.
So with two questions down I focus on the third and probably the most important in my eyes, where does Rooney’s departure leave Manchester United? In the short term? In a fu*king lurch! (Excuse the cussing the supporter in me came out for a sec) The club does not have anyone to readily replace him up front, Dimitar Berbatov has had a great start to the season but can he sustain this for the full season? I think not. Young strikers Federico Macheda, Javier Hernández and Danny Welbeck are not quite ready to step into the limelight just yet, and Michael Owen is finished as a main player for the most part. So in the short term the club will struggle even more than it is struggling now to get a foot hold against the likes of Chelsea and Man City.
In the long term though things are not as bad as some are predicting. Rooney leaving will give the young guys mentioned above more playing time (assuming Welbeck is called back from loan at Sunderland). Which in turn will help them develop at a faster rate then if the Roon stuck around. In fact one of my major complaints of United over the past 7-10 years has been it’s reliance on the transfer market to bail them out. When you buy a lot of top players in the market some of your young players lose out, ask Fraiser Campbell, Danny Welbeck (So far) Tom Cleverly, Giuseppe Rossi, Gerard Piqué (Still really bent about that) etc… Hopefully this is a sign that what made the Red Devils so successful in the 90’s developing and pushing through youth players will return.
So there you have it, there is still plenty of time for this thing to turn around and for Rooney to change his mind and stay, though as BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty said today in his post ” Rooney’s statement issued on Wednesday has surely brought the curtain down on his United career”