Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has scheduled a meeting with the chief executive David Gill this very morn (10:00 BST) to mull over the repercussions of the damning statement delivered by Wayne Rooney yesterday, in which the seemingly outbound striker accused the club of forcing his hand by failing to match his lofty ambitions.
The statement itself was fairly lengthy considering it was written by a man with barely opposable thumbs, but the essence of Rooney’s diatribe can be distilled as such: ‘the current squad is frankly a bit on the pap side, you don’t seem to be doing anything about it, so I’m offski’.
The general consensus seems to be that Ferguson’s meeting with Gill will result in either Rooney being suspended or with him being transfer-listed, although I’d wager that the two options are far from being mutually exclusive.
Either way, United are soon to find themselves with a rather sizeable hole in their forward ranks that will be in desperate need of plugging.
Since the news of Rooney’s desire to walk out on the club that shaped him (into the semi-hominid you see before you today) broke four days ago, the rumour mill has been spinning off it’s axis with the resultant torrent of speculation and conjecture surrounding his potential suitors and his potential replacement at Old Trafford – with the now familiar names of Real Madrid wastrel Karim Benzema, Uruguay’s auxiliary goalkeeper Luis Suarez and, of course, Liverpool’s mopey Iberian Fernando Torres cropping up again and again.
Upon being asked about the chances of United launching a frankly audacious bid to nab his star striker from under his nose yesterday, Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson rejected the preposterous notion out of hand admitted that it was a distinct possibility:
“I think we will have to cross that bridge when we come to it. When a great player like Rooney is looking to leave his club, United will be in a position to target a lot of players around the world.
I do not think Torres will be the only striker they target and I do not think we will be the only club worried. I am not naive enough to believe there will not be any danger and I am not too naive to believe we will never lose a player like Torres.
I do not believe we will lose him, we will do our best to ensure he stays and I only hope I can do everything in my power to keep him happy at the club.”
Oh dear. Roy meet ‘being too honest for your own good’, ‘being too honest for your own good’ meet Roy Hodgson – the soon-to-be-former manager of Liverpool Football Club.
Should United recoup somewhere around the £25 million mark for Rooney in January you’d have to assume that, if the money didn’t go directly towards nursing the Glazer’s monolithic debt, then they’d have in their possession the lion’s share (throw in an extra £5 million or so for luck) of the fee needed to prise Torres from Liverpool.
The uproar on Merseyside would initially be immense, (and the gloating from the United circles would verge on intolerable) but in the cold light of day I don’t think many could feasibly begrudge the Spaniard a move.
Given his current state of doleful resignation and the fact that his form has withered to such an extent that his market value must have waned considerably during the space of a few short months, Torres is currently worth nowhere near the £50 million package that was reportedly rejected from Chelsea over the summer.
Torres has famously said in the past that he’d only leave Anfield in order to return to his homeland (a desperate sticking point that many Liverpool fans cling to with all their might) most probably with Barcelona, but footballer’s tend to say of lot of things over the course of a season and, as their minds tend to flit from whim to whim like an opiated butterfly, most of their comments aren’t to be taken with any kind of ‘set in stone’ finality.
A week can be a long time in politics, and it can seem like the passing of an entire eon in the world of professional football.
Whereas I freely admit that such a move would ordinarily be approaching the realms of fantasy but, taking into account the whirlwind developments that have occurred within the last four days, it seems that the lines of reality are slowly being blurred at the sharp end of the Premier League.