Today’s newspapers are bulging with Rooney related speculation, leaving most people to try and read between the lines of half-truths and educated guesswork in the Sports press about the reason for the fairly shocking news that Wayne Rooney wants to leave Manchester United.
How he will leave, his destination thereafter and the reasons why he wants to leave are of course the subject of frenzied speculation throughout the football world. Frustration at United’s lack of transfer activity? Disappointment at how the club handled personal revelations? It’s even been suggested that Coleen put her foot down about a playboy culture at the club: that Rooney’s affairs with prostitutes were egged on and encouraged by other players and that he only went along with it to fit in. But whether you accept that this culture really exists at a club where Sir Alex Ferguson is manager is up to you.
If only Rooney were to speak up himself. But does Rooney’s silence not lend us a probable answer in itself? For someone so outspoken and volatile, to sit at home while being the World’s biggest story and say nothing when be accused of lying and betrayal must be difficult. Especially when usually you just walk up to a journalist or camera and have your say whenever you feel slighted.
Difficult, that is, unless the overall plan is basically indefensible in the eyes of the public. After all what can anyone say to justify blatant and outrageous avarice? Is not Rooney’s silence actually a nod to the chief motivator (and likely transfer destination) behind of all of this?
Parentage can change a man – so much so that Ferguson almost practically bullies players into ‘settling down’ as soon as they can. But what if the birth of Kai has caused Rooney to undertake some serious soul searching and found that for all his flaws, the one thing Rooney can be relied on to do is be the provider for his family.
What if Rooney sat down with his people, and looked at the cold facts of not the next five or ten years but the next 20 and 50. A post-playing future – closer to him then he would prefer – as a bald, fat scouser of limited media savvy, is one unlikely to reap the future financial benefits enjoyed by, say, the Beckhams.
But he has been told “If you want to live a Beckham lifestyle, you have to earn Beckham money,” and there’s only so much his numerous sponsorships with Tiger Beer, Powerade, Nike, EA Sports, Coca-Cola can bring in. Coleen does not have the independently sourced millions that Posh has and Wayne was never really a face-on-a-bedspread kind of guy. The comfort of his and his family’s entire life will be determined in the next five years: and then, realistically, only through a contract that pays silly money. A market-ignoring contract he can only get at one place.
That it involves crossing Manchester will be felt as relatively meaningless: this is after all a new Dad and nothing will mean more than the future of his family. If it means angering some people about what is, ultimately, only a game, than Rooney is more than stubborn enough to do it. Especially if he is able to shift blame elsewhere and redirect supporter anger onto someone else.
Blaming United’s financial situation and limited transfer activity for the desire to move will have a captive audience among the Old Trafford faithful and dilute the venom which he would only have had to share with others who have made the same choice anyway.
In short, he can get away with moving to City by blaming the Glazer’s greed rather than his own. He can do this because this is what football has come to: Money, and who has it.