Manchester United’s recent derby win will have spirits up, as Juan Mata’s goal gave the Red Devils a solid 1-0 win over neighbours Manchester City. Words about Wayne Rooney’s lack of success and dropping from the first team have been common at United lately, and now the Englishman is struggling to even stay at the club. Reports believe that Inter Milan could be willing to give the United skipper a way out, though, as he continues to move down the pecking order and fails to perform barring a few moments of throwback every so often.
Rooney has scored 246 goals for United, led the club in triumphs across the Premier League, Champions League and every other competition out there, culminating in the completion of his club trophy cabinet as he lifted the FA Cup in May. He’s known as one of the best United strikers in the modern era, one of England’s greatest talents ever, and once was the third-best player in the world behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (who played for United at the time). With all of the signs pointing to a truly world class player, it would have to take an incredible turn of fortunes for United fans to want him to leave the club.
His transfer request sagas, in 2010 and 2013, were upsetting times, and there seems to be quite the progression. 2010 was met with pleas and begging to keep the striker around, and passionate claims were made in 2013, though maybe not as strong. Fans forgave him, for the most part, for wanting to leave, though now, with rumours he might be doing the same in 2016, the majority of United’s fan base hopes he is well out of the club. The truth is, United is home to gifted footballers at the moment, young and experienced, but they often play second fiddle to Rooney, who does not deserve to be the main man. The constant prioritization of Rooney over United’s other great stars has turned a relationship of adoration to one of hatred and disgust at how other players are treated to accommodate a dwindling talent.
The reports from Calcio Mercato, Rooney is wanted by Inter Milan, along with clubs from the Chinese Super League and MLS, next summer. Potential moves have some obvious obstacles, of course, with the fact Rooney has never played outside England (and probably isn’t interested in doing so until he retires from international football), along with the fact he will have to take significant wage cuts to be accepted at another club. Rooney may not state it should he leave the club, but he did say not too long ago that he wanted to retire at the club, which means the choice to leave will be a difficult one.
That being said, for a player with dwindling pace and physical attributes, I still think Rooney can rediscover his technical brilliance at a lower physical level, which means Inter could be a good fit for him. He has been moderately effective as a substitute for United (though not as electric as Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford) and could play a similar role for Inter. He isn’t a replacement for Mauro Icardi, who has reportedly fallen out with the club, but there is no reason why he can’t play in smaller games and score 12-15 goals off the bench for them while providing leadership and commitment in the dressing room.
It is for this reason that I do somewhat fear the moment he is finally gone. I have been one of Rooney’s biggest critics since Louis van Gaal joined Manchester United and he stopped looking like a Premier League footballer, but I also have great respect for him and what he has done for the club, and I hope others adopt the same approach should he leave. Wayne Rooney isn’t any daily footballer, and he deserves the highest respect- for all the terrible things that have happened around him at the club these last three years, I hope they don’t define his legacy because the player we are witnessing today isn’t Rooney. Fans need to have respect for the situation and continue to honour him, as the Old Trafford-goers have done whenever he comes off the bench.