It’s not often that a footballing ‘revelation’ actually sets me reeling, but I could definitely feel my vital organs squirming all throughout Sir Alex Ferguson‘s surreal portrayal of a betrayed father yesterday afternoon, staving off the tears to announce Wayne Rooney‘s deep-seated desire to turn his back on his adopted family – news that was delivered with a bizarre air of loving resignation.
Rooney’s personal and professional problems have been well documented of late, but it would seem that his current elongated slump is entirely due to the simmering grudge he has apparently been harboring since August 14th.
After enjoying such a fantastic run of form last season, you have to wonder what could possibly happened during the three months between the end of the Premier League season and the depressingly early culmination of England’s World Cup participation so as to transform an effervescent, spurting striker transmogrify into the disinterested curmudgeon that we see before us presently?
Are two-bit prostitutes really capable of wielding that kind of influence?
Of course, yesterday’s press conference monologue should be construed as a ‘power play’ on Ferguson’s part (if so, the Screen Actor’s Guild should really take note) as now the ball lies firmly in Rooney’s court – the next move is his to make, and his wily old manager knows it.
Given the sudden nature of Rooney’s availability, the timing of yesterday’s developments coincided nicely with many-a-top European side’s Champions League media conferences – thus enabling reporters from across the continent to quiz the coaches of many of the United forward’s mooted suitors as to whether or not they would be interested in acquiring the mopey gadabout.
Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola was among the first to ‘admit his admiration’ for Rooney, the Spaniard’s comments ringing bells in the heads of Arsenal and Liverpool supporters everywhere;
“He is one of the greatest players in the world as there are very few players with his qualities. He’s a player I admire very much.”
And lo, so begins the now customary charm offensive. You can probably expect to see former United teammate Gerard Pique pulling the sainted blaugrana over Rooney’s balding pate within the month.
Whilst it’s true that Barca haven’t exactly got an awful lot of money to play with at the moment, there are ways and means of freeing up the funds for them to finance a move if they really want to.
Real Madrid honcho Jose Mourinho also had his five-penneth after their 2-0 win over AC Milan last night, reiterating the stance he took earlier in the week by claiming that he thought Rooney won’t be leaving Old Trafford despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary – although this time the Portuguese coach added a telling caveat;
“He will stay. He probably wants to leave for some reason, but I believe he belongs to Man United, he belongs to Man United fans, he belongs to Old Trafford.
I believe he is going to stay, but if at the end of the day Man United decide that he is to leave, then give me a call.
Everybody will be interested. But I like him, I like Sir Alex, I like Man United and I believe the best thing for him is to stay there for life.”
Then, when asked about the possibility of re-uniting Rooney with Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu, Mourinho merely laughed off the suggestion;
“Yeah, but he will stay at Old Trafford for sure.”
I think that’s probably one for linear time to sort out.
When it comes to the English contingent, Manchester City (who are still the bookie’s favourites to nab Rooney) have remained ominously silent on the matter, whilst Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has refused to be drawn into the maelstrom;
“I think that I will have to answer this question lots of times in the future. I want to be clear, I don’t like that some coaches speak about my players and I don’t want to do the same.
I have respect for Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson, it is their problem and I don’t want to speak about this.”
Being, as they are, one of the two Premier League clubs that could feasibly afford Rooney, I’m not entirely sure that Ancelotti is going to be granted the opportunity for maintaining radio silence that he so craves.
For the record, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has also signalled his interest should the United’s top, top ‘triffic talisman become a free agent any time soon!
So the question goes out. Given the initial reactions from all the major players, which club do you think will be working most fervently to sign Wayne Rooney from Manchester United in the coming months? Will it be one of the Spanish powerhouses, or the more familiar confines of the Premier League’s elite (or Spurs)?
Personally, I’ve got to admit that I’m with the Snr Mourinho on this, in that I really can’t envisage Rooney leaving Old Trafford any time soon – despite the outwardly terminal relations between the two camps at present.
However, I’m also fully willing to accept that this puts me in the minority, and also leaves me subject to sectioning under the mental health act.