Oct 20, 2010

Rooney should leave and go abroad

By Jake Harrison

A move away from England would be great for Wayne Rooney and for England. There always seems to be an over-hyped topic in football. Whether it’s the physicality of the modern game or ridiculously defensive tactics, football fans and media outlets alike always have big news to discuss again and again, until it isn’t even a news story anymore. Wayne Rooney’s future as a Manchester United player seems to be the latest example of this, with stories, true or otherwise, coming out of the club every other minute.

On 24th September Sir Alex Ferguson told the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport that Rooney was starting to feel the strain of the media. He said: “He is realising what it means to be at the centre of media attention for non-football-related questions. He would like to keep playing with freedom, but the siege of the tabloids can wear out anyone.” Although the off-field controversy and personal problems may well affect Rooney’s form on the pitch, the striker can only blame himself for the, quite frankly, appalling performances that he has been putting in for both club and country. Sir Alex, though, is right, kind of.

Everyone know’s that the English media are far too intrusive and play to their readership’s simple needs day-in, day-out. While newspapers, twenty-four-hour news channels and opinionated blogs cannot be blamed fully for the dismal showings of the former-Everton striker, they do pose a problem to Rooney and his family.

While some would have little sympathy with Wayne with his, and Colleen’s, appearances in Hello! And Ok! Magazine and other celebrity-obsessed publications, a person’s private life should not be splashed all over the front pages. Whatever he’s alleged to have done is nothing to do with anyone but those involved. It doesn’t matter how famous they are or much of an idol they apparently need to be, no one deserves to see their marriage ripped apart even further by the tabloids.

Rooney is clearly fed up with the media and Ferguson is clearly fed up of discussing the Rooney situation in press conferences. It is a common conception that media outlets elsewhere in the world are less intrusive. While it is quite difficult to judge the level of press invasion, it is clear that, in foreign lands, they are not so obsessed with celebrities (apart from in America, of course). They don’t listen to rumours until they are officially confirmed. Their thirst for knowledge is not as obscene as in Britain.

A move to another country is not going to solve Rooney’s problems, in fact it could create more issues; A new language, new culture and possibly more media exposure because of the current lack of English stars plying their trade abroad. But a move away from Manchester United and England will benefit him as a player and a person. The small number of high-quality English footballers playing abroad has been commented on by many (most notably in the fantastic book, Why England Lose) and Rooney going to Spain, Italy or Germany would, of course, create quite a stir. It wouldn’t be Beckham-esque, but the move, along with a high-profile fall-out with Fergie, would make for massive headlines.

As many people have been quick to point out, this isn’t the first occasion that someone has crossed Fergie. Unfortunately for Rooney, the Scot usually comes out on top. Beckham, Keane, Van Nistelrooy, Stam and, more recently, Tevez; all players who have felt the wrath of a fall-out with Fergie. All have left the club pretty soon after their respective spat, which only fuels talk that Rooney will soon leave the Red Devils after his comments after the recent England international.

As always, the mere chance of Rooney leaving has been greeted by various rumours about prospective new clubs. Real Madrid are reportedly the favourites, while Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Manchester City are supposedly interested. £50 million is the fee being quoted in the newspapers, although Manchester City could quite easily, and happily, improve on this. Most clubs, though, would be cautious in paying this price for a player who is clearly unhappy at a club and wants to leave, and who is in the last eighteen months of his contract with a club who seemingly want rid of him. Money to City, though, has no value.

The likelihood of Ferguson allowing his star asset to join local rivals City is very unlikely. Carlos Tevez technically went from United to City but that was a completely different, and all the more complicated, situation. Rooney would be the most hated man in the North West, without a doubt, if he went to City.

Forgetting about the personal issues for a second, going to City would be a terrible move for the striker. Although he would be able to link up with old mate Tevez again, he would not progress as a player whatsoever. If Rooney is to become a better player, especially on the international stage, he needs to go abroad. At Real Madrid he could join former-United star Cristiano Ronaldo in Jose Mourinho’s side and could even swap places with Karim Benzema, while, at Barca, which would possibly be the better Spanish move, he could play in one of the greatest attacking sides of modern times. Messi, Villa, Pedro, Bojan, Xavi, Iniesta.. and Rooney. A lovely little thought.

Italian defences could provide a greater test for Rooney, which would be even better for England if he can prove his worth there. Inter Milan are reportedly keen to sign the striker, although rivals AC Milan, with recent recruits Robinho and Ibrahimovic, as well as Ronaldinho and Pato, could be looking to improve on their already ego-filled squad. Where Rooney would fit in to the Rossoneri side is an entirely different question, but that didn’t stop Massimiliano Allegri from buying two strikers to add to an already-full forward line.

A move to Germany would certainly be surprising given the apparent decline in ‘lure-ability’ in German club football, although that could entice Rooney even more. What is for sure, though, is that Rooney has to go abroad if he can’t sort his problems with Sir Alex out. And, after Fergie revealed on Tuesday, just a day before a crucial Champions League match against Bursaspor, it may not be too long before United lose their prized asset.

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