It’s another game day (v Swansea, FA Cup), which means another day of pessimism and fear of enduring another 90minutes of frustration and anger. I used to be excited about watching United, and the thought of getting home, sitting in my favourite seat with the tv angled towards me was all I needed to get through the working day.
That’s all changed this season.
Don’t get me wrong, I still and will always vehemently support the team; I’m not going to be like the fickle Arsenal fan and start blasting the manager only to suddenly call him a genius when things start going right. It’s just that there is just nothing exciting about us anymore. I definitely don’t blame Moyes because he inherited a poor team. How we won the league by such a big margin last year is the best evidence to regard Ferguson as an unbelievable manager. When I look at our team now, I can’t see any creativity, potency or real and consistent quality. Yes Janujaz is one with potential but he’s only 18 with a lot of development ahead of him, Valencia has improved from last year but it’s criminal what he actually does with the amount of touches and opportunities he gets, RVP (our only ‘World Class’ player in my opinion) hasn’t really played this year and doesn’t seem to have the fire of last season, Welbeck is hit and miss (literally), Hernandez has developed his first touch to levels of the Yorkshire Ripper and Kagawa does an even better impression of Cleverley with the amount of side and back passes he makes.
Which brings me to Rooney, our ‘star player’, our ‘saviour’, England’s superstar. It really frustrates me to have to listen to commentators and read journalists gushing about him and highlighting everything he does a thousand-fold. Yes, he is undoubtedly a good player and has done well for us this year. But for such a good player in such a poor team, you literally have to turn up with one of Cuba’s finest smoke-sticks to excel.
And that’s exactly what I believe Rooney is doing.
I have been watching and studying his movement and attitude for a couple of seasons now and I think it’s fair to say he hasn’t really performed on a consistent basis since his 30-plus season a couple of years ago. Last year this was masked by RVP’s heroics but in a season where we need our other top player to really stand up and push us on, I believe he has gone missing. Yes he has scored goals and is the league’s top goal maker, but what we really need in this team is a fighter, an influence, a leader. We need someone with an attitude that says, ‘I will drag these boys through these tough times because I am a top player and they look up to me.’ We need someone with Beckham’s attitude v Greece, Keane v Juve, Gerrard v West Ham in the FA Cup final or Brazilian Ronaldo in the 2002 World Cup. Instead, what we get is someone that jogs all game and doesn’t do more than spray 50yard passes wide to raptuous applause. I have been of this thought about Rooney for a while and I closely watched our recent games aganst Hull and Spurs. While he did score a great goal and crossed for Smalling to score against Hull, I can’t seem to remember him breaking sweat, making a tackle or even making any lung-busting runs to help the team. He was even worse against Spurs. Granted, he’d just come back from injury but he literally sauntered around the pitch, spraying balls out wide. And these sickly sycophantic commentators wouldn’t stop going on about how great he was whenever he made a pass.
Yes, he has ability and we need players with the intelligence and technique to spread the game when needed, but my argument is that for the last few seasons, Rooney has been playing within himself and doing just the bare necessary. I believe he can do more. British players seem to be judged only on how hard they work, which I disagree with because I don’t think that’s enough to be a world class player, but there is no doubt that it is essential. I think Rooney has stopped trying. By that, I mean really trying; demanding the ball, encouraging the younger and less able players, ‘taking the game by the scruff of the neck’ like all world class players should do when the going gets tough. This is the type of player we need at the moment, the type of player Moyes needs at the moment, and unfortunately he is not getting that from Rooney.
I think most United fans expect him to leave this or next season. Hopefully it will be this season to avoid him doing a ‘Lewandowski’, and I for one will be glad when he does. Once again, it’s not that I don’t rate him as a player or appreciate what he’s done for the club, but at the moment, we need players who are determined to help the club through this bad spell; we need players with Cleverley’s attitude and Rooney’s ability. Unfortunately we get players with Rooney’s ability and Winston Bogarde’s attitude. By him leaving, Moyes will be able to get players who want to fight for the team and who can also (hopefully) play. I also wonder if his exit will spur on those players with something to prove, like Kagawa, to step up a level.
Right now, Rooney is our only hope but in my opinion, he hasn’t taken this responsibility with the correct attitude, so why not cut our losses and find players who can play, influence and inspire the team? It surely can’t be that difficult because as good as he is, there are better players out there. I know it’s not possible but someone like Mata for example would be a fresh and inspiring addition. I would love to once again have the anticipation of watching a team that will excite and inspire when I turn on my TV and for that to happen, our seemingly influential players need to start being so, or we need to get rid and start looking forward. I know he won’t play today v Swansea and I know I will hear ‘United are missing Rooney’ at least once, especially if things aren’t going well. But my argument is United still miss Rooney even when he plays. On the flip side, I think we have to be fair to Rooney too and allow him the chance to rediscover his fire somewhere else. I can almost guarantee that we will see a different Rooney at a new club. For what he’s done for the club and for the sake of the future of United, I think it’s fair to shake hands and have a mutually consent exit. He needs a change and we need a change. The current situation is like being in a relationship that seems to be dying on its feet yet neither party is brave enough to end it, mainly because of fear of not finding the right replacement.
We need Moyes to be the braver of the two and make the right decision for the good of both their futures.