Sunday Mirror Mock-up
Some fans might not yet realise it, some fans might not admit it, but there seems to be one thumping, uncomfortable truth about the latest
He does not care a jot
Oh, he cares about it as an employer and a company that pays his wages.
But its history, its reputation and – as Arsene Wenger might say – its values are pretty much irrelevant.
They appear to mean little – maybe even nothing – to Rooney.
Hewould probably toss his five Premier League medals, his two League Cupmedals and his Champions League medal into a plastic bag and dump it on the front doorstep of Old Trafford if it helped him get his move to Chelsea.
No doubt, he has made pals at the club and is grateful for the fans’ adulation, but, forall the perceived glory, his association with United has been a purely professional, commercial one.
Towardsthe end of last season, Michael Carrick remarked that you don’t just play for Manchester United, you live for Manchester United.
Rooney just plays for United. That is all he has ever done. That is what gave Sir Alex Ferguson the right hump.
Many have pointed out that, should he leave, Rooney would be passing up the chance to overtake Sir Bobby Charlton as top United goalscorer.
As if he gives a toss.
His profile on Twitter simply reads Nike UK Athlete. Quite.
Peopleat United should not be surprised or indignant about this. Every otherday brings a new sponsor – or “partner” as they like to call them – and the club’s stature is as likely to be gauged by Deloittes as by UEFA.
And I’m pretty sure the Glazers would not want it any other way.
Rooneyhas taken the club for what it is. Extremely successful with a brilliant manager, it has paid him considerable wages and provided him with the exposure and platform from which to generate even more income.
Now, that is not enough. Or, he just wants a change.
But, for very understandable practical reasons, United – and, I assume, David Moyes, in particular – will not allow it.
Which is sad. As I was growing up, if you had said to me two institutions such as Manchester United and Liverpool would keep hold of footballers against the will of those people, I would have been scornful.
The adage that no player is bigger than the club once carried the weight of truth – now it is an anodyne soundbite from people with media training.
In 1966, Denis Law tried to negotiate anew contract with Sir Matt Busby. Even in the days of Best and Charlton, Denis was, indisputably, the king.
Hewanted a tenner-a-week pay rise and would consider his future if it was not granted. Talks were brief and unproductive. Law left for Scotland.
Turning on the TV when he arrived home in Aberdeen, the headline news was that he had been transfer-listed.
A few days later, Law returned south and signed a public letter of apology that Sir Matt had drafted. And the rest is history.
Busby probably gave Law his extra 10 quid, but had made a point, the point being that there are multitudes who dream of pulling on that United jersey … don’t insult them.
Yet, Rooney is not actually insulting the supporters.
He has done his professional utmost for the club.
The only insult is delivered by those hanging on to an employee who appears not to have an ounce of affection for a great club. Now, that is an insult to the thousands of fans who live and breathe the club.
To the thousands whose daydream Rooney is living.
And those fans can console themselves with one thing.
You are not losing Rooney… you never really had him.
Everything I’ve said about Wayne Rooney on this page, ditto Luis Suarez.