And so all those dark utterings are accurate. Sir Alex Ferguson of all people has been forced to hold a press conference today to confirm that Wayne Rooney won’t be signing a new contract and wants to leave the club. Inside two seasons Man U will have lost the services of Ronaldo, Tevez and Rooney – that’s a lot of fire power which will have gone to rival clubs and not been replaced following relationship breakdowns with SAF. Could any club survive that? Once upon a time Man U would have been big enough to ride it through and possibly even prosper by bringing through new talent and buying world class replacements. After all they thrived after jettisoning players of the calibre of Ince, Staam, van Nistelrooy, Beckham, Keene etc But not now. And that’s the bigger story today I fear, not that player greed is now seemingly unquenchable but that Man U are just not the force they were even two years ago.
The leveraged buy out by the Glazers has saddled the once rich club with a huge debt which means that its massive cash generation capacity is now used to try and meet eye-watering interest payments rather than new player acquisitions. So great players aren’t being replaced and over the next year Man U will also need to find replacements for the incomparable Paul Scholes plus Ryan Giggs, Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville and possibly Rio Ferdinand and now probably Nemanja Vidic. World-class players are no longer coming through the youth system. Sir Alex is approaching 70 and can’t have much burning desire left in his heart. And down the road bitter rivals Man City are being bank-rolled by one of the world’s wealthiest individuals with money to burn on his footballing toy it seems. Presumably that’s where Rooney will end up as the world’s first player on a salary of £1m per month.
And it’s where he deserves to be; at Manchester Mercenaries. I’m more and more convinced that they are the coming force in the Premiership and may well win it this year. Liverpool are already a basket case and I’ve a feeling that Man U might be only a year or so behind them in terms of a sad slow decline. I think they might even struggle to make the Champions League qualifying places this year – I can see them battling with Spurs for the 4th spot behind City, Chelsea and Arsenal, and not succeeding. But that’s football.
Then again I’m also old enough to remember the last time Man City were outspending everyone in the top Division and went out and bought the mercurial Rodney Marsh, the Rooney of his day. He was viewed as the final piece in the perfect football jigsaw but he couldn’t be accommodated without disrupting an already sweet footballing machine. And City went on to achieve nothing over the next 34 years.
So off you go Wayne and take your marital problems, greedy agent, over-bearing ego and most importantly your terrible form with you and do us a Rodney. I do wonder though if you’ll ever find real contentment son.