Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rooney sale enables regrowth

Not for the first time, and not for the last, necessity forces a difficult, but correct decision.

Presumably Manchester United don't want to sell Wayne Rooney, but with admissions from the Englishman about his "adamant" desire to leave presently, it looks like they'll have to.

And that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Wayne Rooney is worth more to Manchester United in the transfer market than he is on the pitch. Javier Hernandez is already a more effective out-and-out striker, with far more potential, less worth on the transfer market, and a much better disposition. With at least ₤30m for Rooney's signature, United can buy five players who might already be better than him, or at least may evolve to be.

But Rooney, at 24, has already plateaued. He may be the oldest 24-year-old player in Europe. He started playing consistent top-flight football eight years and many injuries ago. The growth we all hoped for has manifested in only modest goal returns for club and drastic, dreadful failures for country.

Frankly, the only stylistic trademark Rooney has is one he rarely uses: dropping his shoulder and shifting his weight to deke past a defender. He used to have a penchant for long-range belters, but no more. We hoped he might evolve enough skill to beat defenders one-on-one, but he hasn't. He always dribbles to his right, like a schoolboy.

He is fast, but not very. He has strength, but less than most central defenders. His proclivity to drop deep and spray long balls doesn't really befit a striker. Oh yeah, and he's seriously emotionally troubled.

What is the big deal, here? Oh, right: millions of people around the world are deeply emotionally attached to a player they've been conditioned to adore.

That same marketing appeal will garner an absurd fee on the transfer market. Other European clubs will either also believe the hype, or, more likely, simply want him to sell more jerseys to those who perpetuate it.

Furthermore, it's obvious United have been reluctant to replace Giggs and Scholes as the heart of their side. Cashing in on Rooney will mercifully quicken that process, as it may just as mercifully assuage its manager's departure.

Alex Ferguson's recent selection and tactical decisions have been bemusing at best. When Rooney leaves, a new chapter will begin, and it's unlikely Ferguson will be around long enough to be its author in full.

It's possible Rooney may grow into a better player. But, as a bitter, rich, adulterous, troubled 24-year-old, I'd say the signs aren't very good. But they certainly—and hopefully—lead out of Manchester.

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