Wednesday, October 20

So Sorry, It's Over

"Rooney can be the best in the world at 25 if he knows you need to train hard, go to bed early and be careful with what you eat. But he could also be out of the best teams, out of England, out of the best 100 players. Completely out... The last time I saw him I wanted to say it but I saw him only quickly." What if Eric Cantona did say it to him? What if one of the most rousing players to have ever called Old Trafford 'home' saw Wayne Rooney for a good few minutes and advised him on how to become a true great just like him? But those questions are merely rhetorical now, because Rooney - the man formerly known to United fans as "the white Pelé" - is about to make the biggest mistake of his life.

So why, then? Why does Wayne - who's wife has seemingly taken him back in spite of reports that he cheated on her with a prostitute, is a popular figure amongst the United/England setups and already has enough millions to score each Chile miner X Factor final tickets directly behind the judges' table - want to leave the club that has given him so much love and so many trophies? This was the one question left over from Sir Alex Ferguson's press briefing today, as he himself could only muster: "I was dumbfounded, I couldn't understand it at all because only months before he'd said he was at the biggest club in the world and he wanted to stay for life. We just don't know what's changed the boy's mind." And despite SAF's dismissal of a fallout between the two, surely only a WWE-style tug o' war could lead the striker to exit.

That quote from King Eric, which was said in February 2006, speaks of demands Rooney has outwardly ignored in recent months. Photographed smoking and drinking on the pavements of Manchester's city centre, alongside the rumours of infidelity while Coleen was pregnant, these do not smack of a man chewing over how to become the best at the game. Perhaps during George Best's 1960s they do, but Wayne's old pal and the teetotal Cristiano Ronaldo isn't just the world's best because he relies on natural ability. Thus, rather than feature in the best teams or the best 100 players, Rooney isn't likely to give up past habits should he move in elsewhere. Not without Sir Alex looking after him, anyway.

So where will home be, then? As a slightly-more-than-diehard Utd devotee, I'm not sure I even care. If he wants to leave my team, he can take the first flight, train, bus or tram. First being the January transfer window, of course. Until then, I say let's not even play him. Not unless he's willing to come out and explain his reasoning for spitting the fans' wholehearted love back in their now-confused faces. And, sure, I'd rather he go anywhere than relocate across the city, just as the bookies are predicting he will. The daunting thing is, if he's so stupid as to wish to depart Old Trafford, who's to say he couldn't go one further and join big fish Carlos in small pond Eastlands?

Which leaves United where, exactly? Well, such was asked after the eliminations of Ince, Hughes, Kanchelskis, Beckham, van Nistelrooy, Keane, Stam and maybe a few more. But we lived on, going on to win literally everything under the sun, in fact. It may seem different, or worse even, this time around simply because Wayne Rooney - when in form - is by far the side's second-most valuable asset... Who's the first, you ask? How about the same gent who's seen it all before, won 35 trophies in 24 years this November and has every single right-minded United fan's faith in him? Plus, if anything, this more expansive challenge, perhaps his biggest yet, will only increase Sir Alex's hunger further.

Like everyone else, I can't believe Wayne Rooney is leaving Manchester United. Not one bit of this makes any sense. He may well be off to deepen his pockets either across town or on the continent, but never again will he repeat the glory he experienced in his years at Old Trafford. "Wayne can go on to achieve unbelievable things, he's got so much talent," once declared Paul Gascoigne. Remember him?

Blink-182 'So Sorry, It's Over'