Rivals Watch: Trouble at United?

While watching Liverpool take on Oldham last night, I couldn’t help but notice a much bigger deal (footballwise) going on in the media world – a leaked copy of tomorrow’s front page of the Independent, claiming that Wayne Rooney might be on his way out of Manchester United that had somehow found itself causing a big stir on Twitter.

It was about this time last year there were similar rumours of his departure, with Rooney citing differences between his and the club’s ambition. In the end he was persuaded to stay and his form improved (although not to his usual heights) as United won the league.

A year later though, and United haven’t done enough to build on what was a far from convincing title win, losing seasoned old pros and bringing in young and expensive replacements who, although clearly promising, are making mistakes as even the most talented players do with a lack of experience. Rooney might have the right to feel Ferguson is not giving him a good enough team to play with.

Nor is the manager making much of an effort to build the team around arguably his star player, with Rooney often being moved into midfield or out wide to make up for others. Only in 09/10 was Rooney the main man upfront for United, when he scored 34 goals. He has not at any other time come close to reaching figures like that, previously playing second fiddle to the likes of Ronaldo and Tevez, and now competing with inferior players in Berbatov, Hernandez and Welbeck.

Such is the crazy nature of the modern media, United and Rooney have released statements contrary to the headline in the Independent, before the papers have even become available. They are firm on this: Rooney will not be leaving. Pretty much what you’d expect, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rooney has become disillusioned at a club seemingly building for the future that does not give his talent the attention it deserves.

His fine over a Boxing Day night out, and rumours that his attitude in training recently has been questionable give more weight to the story, and to the suggestion that he might be lacking motivation at United. It happens, of course, he’s been there a long time. While I understand it’s in their best interests to deny the story for now, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this wasn’t the last we heard of this one.

I’ll deal with the obvious impact of losing such a big name, and the implications of the financial situation at Old Trafford if or when this happens.

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