Whilst Gareth Bale mopes about in Marbella, another of the Premier League’s stars has been going through some transfer drama of his own.
Wayne Rooney has seemingly wanted out of Old Trafford since the end of last season (although he claims he was merely seeking reassurances about his position in the team). Things have since escalated via a number of ‘injuries’, cryptic Facebook messages and a flurry of failed bids from Chelsea.
Last weekend Rooney, despite claims he would never wear the shirt again, turned out for Manchester United against Swansea. There were fears that he would face a negative backlash from fans but his name was chanted as he warmed up (he duly replied with a polite applause) and when he came on put in a decent shift with 2 assists.
There were pictures posted online of the striker trudging back to the center circle whilst his team mates celebrated a goal but it was to be expected with reports claiming that, whilst he didn’t like it, Rooney had accepted that he would be staying at Old Trafford.
Further pictures and reports of a team bonding session at a restaurant in Manchester added weight to claims that he had accepted his future lies at Old Trafford, but with Chelsea turning up at Old Trafford tonight is Moyes’ plan to play Rooney against his suitors wise?
For a man as rough, tough and uncouth as Rooney, I am yet to come across a player as delicate as the England international. Everyone is different and I can’t stress this enough, but there are few players that allow off field matters to affect their game the way Rooney does and his list of previous is remarkable.
The number of Everton ties where Sir Alex felt the need to wrap him in cotton wool due to how he would react to fans, his outburst following England’s game with Algeria in 2010, how his performances dipped in 2010 when news of his extra marital activities and transfer request threatened and finally did hit the headlines; every time the slightest bit of turmoils rears it’s head we suffer via his performances.
Last week beyond his lack of celebration, there was little evidence of him struggling to cope with what has been going on, rather it was the opposite. He went about the game with a lack of emotion ( don’t confuse this with a lack of passion, even if passion is an emotion!) and was rather mechanical in his actions but tonight’s game is a completely different story.
The build up to the game has been dominated by Chelsea’s pursuit of the striker, largely at the behest of Jose Mourinho, and it’s not by accident. Mourinho will know of Rooney’s fragility thus his claims that he will be making a 3rd bid, but only after the game, was a clear attempt to unsettle his opponent.
With that in mind is it smart for Moyes to play Rooney tonight, let alone start him?
Rooney’s absence will spark a whole raft of questions over his future, but if Moyes knows that he isn’t going anywhere, then it should make no difference.
Whatever you think of him as a person, Rooney is still a good player and still has a bit to offer the team as he showed last week. But that is only when he is firing on all cylinders. Beating Chelsea will be hard enough with 11 men, so a disinterested Rooney playing could be more of a hindrance than a help.
Moyes could prove a defiant point playing the striker against his suitors and then holding on to him, but with Rooney’s history it is more likely that this may hurt United.
Mourinho has played a clever game in the run up to this game and, like the game itself, how Moyes handles this will be a huge test.