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Monday, 16 December 2013

Manchester United: Can the champions hold on to Wayne Rooney?


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Nobody said replacing the legendary figure of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United was going to be easy, but nobody expected David Moyes to have such a bad time of it in the league. 

The champions are already being written off as title challengers. They are currently ninth in the table, sit 13 points adrift of league leaders Arsenal and have lost five times already in just 15 Premier League games - the same number they lost in the whole of last season when they won the crown.

But worse than that, there are real concerns that United may not even finish in a Champions League place come May.

Under Sir Alex, the Red Devils never finished outside the top three in the league. Well, in the first campaign without the great man, it looks as though United may fail to even make the top four.

And that could spell disaster for Moyes.

Big players want to be playing in the big competitions. Wayne Rooney has high standards and wants to test himself in the Champions League and be winning silverware. Robin van Persie left Arsenal to join United because he wanted something substantial to look back on when he finally hangs up his boots. But, if United are not playing in the biggest club competition of them all - or challenging for honours - could Rooney and van Persie move on to pastures new?

Premier League rivals Chelsea are already reportedly looking at making a fresh move for Wayne Rooney. Jose Mourinho was strongly linked with the England international in the summer following Sir Alex's revelation that Rooney had handed in a transfer request. Of course that failed to materialise - with Rooney refuting claims that he had asked to leave - and the former Everton man is playing some great football at the moment. 

Rooney insists that he never asked to leave United in the summer, but he could well do the off if United slip outside the top four. If the unthinkable was to happen, Moyes would be in a nightmare situation. He failed to attract any major signings in the summer when United were champions and Champions League regulars. Who on Earth could he convince to join him if United couldn't even offer European football? And what would Rooney and RVP do? They demand to be playing at the highest level. Would Moyes have to go? Would the challenge of getting United back to top excite some of the biggest names in the game? I'm coming up with more questions than answers. 

Wayne Rooney is paid extremely handsomely for what he does at Old Trafford, but he has already spoken out about the club's lack of ambition in terms of signing top named players. His heart is with his boyhood club Everton. He has no loyalty to Manchester United at all. If things turn sour at Old Trafford he can walk away. He has fulfilled his duties time and time again over the past decade and may be wondering if the club really does match his ambition.

So what can United do to keep Rooney happy? Getting back to winning ways would be a start. Finding some consistency and a settled starting XI would also help restore confidence among the players and fans. Signing a big star in January would also be a step in the right direction, but with only 18 months left on his current deal, Wayne Rooney's future will be a hot topic of conversation for the foreseeable future.

However, let's not forget, this is Manchester United - the biggest name in world football. Should they really pamper to the needs of one man - albeit a top class footballer - in order to keep him at the club? If you don't want to be playing for Manchester United, regardless of their league position, then you don't deserve to pull on the famous red jersey. Rooney of course hasn't said anything as of yet, but there are still fans furious with him over his conduct with the club in the past.

Should he stay or should he go? What would you suggest?

Calling all Manchester United fans: Do you think United can keep Rooney out of Chelsea's arms? How vital is Rooney to your cause? If, heaven forbid, United were to miss out on the top four, do you think Rooney and RVP would remain at United or find a way out? What valuation would you place on Rooney's head? Do you still have faith in David Moyes? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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Antony Melvin

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