Manchester United patriarch Sir Alex Ferguson has issued wayward disciple Wayne Rooney with a stark warning, insisting that the haughty striker will not simply be allowed to walk back into the first team once he’s finished recuperating from an ankle injury under the expert supervision of the poolside medical team at Dubai’s five-star Burj Al Arab Hotel.
The considerable rift that Rooney’s prolonged absence (and profound slump in form) should have caused at Old Trafford has been willingly tempered by the goal-scoring exploits of the two front-line cohorts he left in his wake, with Dimitar Berbatov temporarily demonstrating that he may be able to justify his monolithic transfer fee and Javier Hernandez nabbing six crowd-sating goals despite only starting five games this season.
Given the exploits of his current front pairing (if you were feeling particularly generous I suppose you could also include Federico Macheda, but the Italian continues to struggle to find a convincing foothold in the first-team), Ferguson has admitted that he may face what is commonly referred to as a ‘selection headache’ as and when Rooney returns to the fold,
“[Hernandez’s] performances have dictated that he will have to keep his place. We had a feeling he would break through and, therefore, it gives you a problem, but the right kind of problem.
It will be difficult [leaving Hernandez out]. I’m not even suggesting he will be left out. He’s keeping his place in the team because he deserves to keep his place in the team.”
Ferguson also took the time to laud the instant impact that the Mexican poacher has made since joining from Chivas Guadalajara for somewhere between £7-9 million back in early April after months of rigorous scouting work on United’s part:
“We’re all pleased with him, everyone around the club is excited. He’s got great desire and trains very well. We’re not surprised at how well Javier has settled in, because we identified him and did a lot of work before we signed him.
He’s young and he wants to learn. He’s first in for training before 9:00am and he’s last to leave. You get the rewards for your efforts and at the moment that’s been the case.
There is plenty of evidence the boy has got something. He’s enjoying it here, his family are with him and he speaks the language. His winning goal [against Wolves in the Carling Cup] on Tuesday demonstrated he’s a very good finisher. Everything is in his favour.”
Considering that ‘Chicharito’ has now scored against France, Argentina, Chelsea, Valencia, Spain, Holland and Man Utd (during a pre-season friendly) in the past six months, coupled with a hatful of important domestic goals for his new club of late, would it be safe to assume that Ferguson may already be looking at one of the signings of the season? Or is that just a little too premature?
After confirming to a press conference that Rooney’s injury lay-off would be ‘a few weeks longer’ than the original prognosis, Ferguson then sought to draw a decisive line under the recent fissures that have enveloped the club of late:
“It’s all over, it’s all left in the past. He’s signed a five-year contract, we’re happy and we kick on.
There have been plenty of difficult issues at this club over the years. You could say this was a big one but only in the sense it was a top player. Plenty of players come to a situation with their contracts. The difference is that they are normally done very quietly and unnoticed.
But every club has these problems, once the players get to that two-year line when you have to start thinking about how to deal with it. All these issues are there for everyone these days. It’s just much more difficult than it was even three years ago.”
To be fair, a few months without having to look at Rooney’s boiled-ham visage every single day would prove to be a welcome tonic considering the last few weeks. However, we shouldn’t forget that we are still awaiting that much vaunted public apology.
Should be a hoot.