Football

Wayne Rooney should stay at Manchester United

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Rooney (left) is United's prized asset. (©GettyImages)
Rooney (left) is United's prized asset. (©GettyImages).

Sorry, Wayne, but the only club that needs you is Manchester United.

Not Real Madrid, not Barcelona, not Chelsea and not even PSG, just Manchester United. Much has been said about the striker's discontent, and recent comments made by manager, David Moyes (albeit completely taken out of context by the press), have hardly helped the situation. 

Rooney clearly feels unloved at Old Trafford, not so much by the fans but by the club itself. Here is a player who needs to feel important, who needs to be top dog. When he criticised the club for their "lack of ambition" a few seasons ago, he didn't mean bring in a striker better than me, he meant 'bring in plenty of world class midfielders who can give me even better service.
Unfortunately, United went out and bought the best striker in the league from rivals Arsenal, and, although his partnership with the Dutchman worked well, it was Robin van Persie who stole all the headlines, goals and plaudits.
Of course, it didn't help that Rooney had his worst season so far with injuries. Not since his Everton days had he made so few appearances in a season, and it showed. Despite flashes here and there, his form suffered and it was van Persie who drove United to the title.
Rooney isn't the player of two years ago. His fitness isn't what it used to be, and he is certainly more injury prone these days. It was probably this seeming decline that forced Ferguson to go out and sign van Persie, a player who could certainly pick up where Rooney left off in terms of goals and influence.
But does this mean that Rooney is in permanent decline? He has been overshadowed before by the likes of Ronaldo, so why can't he accept being an important player, but not necessarily the most important player?
Is it an age thing? Does he feel as though, at the age of 27, he needs to be the main man? He wouldn't get that at Chelsea, with their stellar attacking players, so why walk out of a club that he has given so much to and which has given him so much in return?
He can become a legend at United, their all-time top scorer, and it makes no sense to throw it all away.
Similarly, van Persie is almost 30 and his form might dip just as Rooney's has. Besides, let us not forget that the Dutchman has had his issues with injuries too. In other words, anything can happen.
Indeed, anything can happen and this brings me onto my next point: in football, anything can happen. Yes, Wayne Rooney could go to Chelsea. Chelsea seem interested, despite their myriad of attacking midfielders, wingers and second strikers, and there is no doubt that they have a squad and manager that is capable of contesting both the Premier League and the Champions League.
They don't need him though. He seemingly wants to be the main man and yet, with the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Frank Lampard, Oscar, Andre Schurrle and Kevin de Bruyne in the Chelsea squad, he is surplus to requirements. His best position is off the main striker, either as an attacking midfielder or as a second striker.
This is where he can use his brilliant passing range and creativity, as well as providing a huge goal threat. So why go to a place that has even more competition for places than United? After all, at United, he has only Kagawa as competition for his favoured role behind the striker. At Chelsea, there are six players who can play there and play well.
So does Jose Mourinho have something else in mind for Rooney? With Marco van Ginkel, the supposed heir to Frank Lampard, does he envisage the England man as his number nine? Of course, Fernando Torres puts Rooney's decline into perspective, with the Spaniard struggling immensely at Stamford Bridge, and certainly, Rooney provides an upgrade, at least on paper, to his current options.
That said, Mourinho loves a lone striker who can lead the line by himself, be it a Didier Drogba or a Diego Milito, and he struggled a little at Real Madrid with strikers who impose themselves less on the opposition. Karem Benzema is more of a second striker and Gonzalo Higuain was out of form and seemed to lose all confidence.
Rooney is more like Benzema than a beast like Drogba or a pure goalscorer like Milito. Romelu Lukaku, despite his youth and inexperience, is much more of a Mourinho centre forward, what with his all round game and size. You could easily envisage the Portuguese coach moulding him into something truly frightening.
On the other hand, at Old Trafford, far from worrying about enormous competition or being played in a role that might not best utilise his talent, he would be playing with the best striker in the league and in his best position.
Is Kagawa a good player? Yes. But he is not as good as Rooney on his day. So with a solid pre-season under his belt, working hard and getting himself back to full fitness, there is no doubt that he can become the Rooney of old and run Old Trafford. Yes, van Persie would be scoring the majority of the goals, conjuring moments of brilliance out of nothing but Rooney would be providing the assists and running the show.
No other club out there needs him and he doesn't need them either. United do. Kagawa is not ready yet. He gave glimpses of his quality last season, but he needs to become more used to the physicality of the Premier League.
Indeed, it would probably beneficial to United if the Japanese became the heir to Scholes rather than Rooney. He has similar physique and stature to the ginger-haired schemer, as well as great passing skills and the occasional eye for goal.
So with the best solution for both parties being Rooney staying at Old Trafford, why isn't it happening? United need to make him feel integral, while he needs to prove his importance by regaining full fitness and form. It's a two-way thing.

Who needs to make the first move though? United have the money to find a good replacement but it would be a hassle easily avoided when they already have the player they want and need right there already (and when Tottenham won't sell Bale).
Likewise, Rooney could leave but the grass isn't always greener. He has tried to leave before but it appears that they have now showed too much ambition. He has to decide what he wants: does he want them to be less ambitious and thus be the main man or does he want them to buy the best players so he too can become a better player and win more silverware?
Chelsea is not a step down from United, not right now at least – he could win trophies at either club – but only at United could he become a legend.
In many ways, it resembles a feuding couple who both know they need each other but who are both too proud to say it. Just say it already. Say it at the same time and make up. You two need each other.


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Topics:
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney
Football
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