Tough love continues to be Manchester United’s approach to the Wayne Rooney situation.
Just one day after United’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, stated that “[no] contract renewals are being discussed” and the club is happy to let run down the two years remaining on his current deal, manager David Moyes has further stoked the fire, claiming that Rooney is only vital in Robin van Persie’s absence.
“Wayne can play up on his own, he can play dropped in,” Moyes said in Bangkok before United flew to Sydney for the next leg of their tour. “Overall my thought on Wayne is, if for any reason we had an injury to Robin van Persie, we’ll need him.”
Hearing that soundbite will be a tough pill for Rooney to swallow.
First and foremost, Moyes’ words confirm the obvious, that he believes van Perise is more valuable to United than Rooney. While few fans, whether United supporters or neutrals, will disagree with the notion that the Dutchman is in better form than Rooney, the comment will still give Rooney pause.
Yes, Rooney has had a fantastic career at United, one filled with an invariable amount of breathtaking and memorable moments. These moments, however, can not be confused with the notion – what have you done for me lately?
Moyes’ comment also indicates his opinion that the only place on the pitch where Rooney can be effective is as a forward. It’s a concept that Rooney may disagree with and so too might Sir Alex Ferguson.
During last season’s title-run Ferguson utilized Rooney in a variety of midfield options, which included playing the 27 year old as a holding midfielder in the 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on April 22nd. Van Persie’s hat-trick made him the undisputed star of that match but to be fair, Rooney proved quite effective alongside Michael Carrick.
Reading into Moyes’ words a bit deeper and it’s clear the Scot is not impressed with Rooney as a leader.
The general consensus is that Rooney has never been much of a verbal leader. But there are verbal leaders and there are those who lead by example. And while Rooney may not be the most articulate or philosophical, it would be hard to hold a straight face and claim that his energy and physical approach to the game is not highly motivational.
So was Moyes wrong to make the comment?
Of course not. He is a manager and a motivator who is clearly not happy with how Rooney has handled the speculation concerning his future at United.
Moyes’s words are pure motivation. Tough love at its very best – an strong armed urging that Rooney step up (not only on the pitch but perhaps to a microphone as well) and prove his worth.
That being said, the idea that Rooney is not ‘vital’ to United in van Persie’s absence is completely preposterous.