After a transfer window where David Moyes struggled to sign an autograph and United’s skills of negotiation made the notorious Garry Cook look the model of professionalism, we are now thankfully back to the real football of United after every small town inbred’s favourite side played Ukraine and Moldova. As we all know, United eventually signed Marouane Fellaini after Everton Chairman Bill Kenwright showed United’s new Chief Executive up for the amateur that he is. Apart from the Warwick Road swag grafters, I can’t think of anybody who’s first choice midfield signing would have been Fellaini, but what I have no doubt about is that he’s a vast improvement on Anderson and Tom Cleverley. For Anderson, it may be a cruel coincidence that he chose yesterday to have possibly his worst ever game for United (there’s some stiff competition for that). It took me ten minutes to realise he was on the pitch, when I first noticed him he gave the ball away in midfield and proceeded to do that for the rest of the first half. When Palace midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi conceded a very dubious penalty on forty two minutes, Anderson was running to the referee Jon Moss, like a coppers nark mithering him to send off Dikgacoi. Strictly speaking, seeing as the referee believed it to be a foul and Young was the last man, the sending off of Dikgacoi was the correct decision but it sickens me to see any footballer trying to get another footballer booked or sent off. When I see a United player doing it, it disgusts me. As dubious as the penalty was, a half time lead for United was a fair score. Robin Van Persie despatched the penalty with aplomb having been thwarted by the crossbar nine minutes earlier. On the hour, Anderson applied the coup-de-grace to his afternoon by tripping over the ball. Next time the ball went out of play, Anderson instinctively looked over to the United bench expecting to be substituted, it was his wisest move of the day. Fellaini came on to a rapturous welcome and parts of Old Trafford resembled a shebeen on Claremont Road in 1978, such was the abundance of afro syrups springing up in homage to United’s new Belgian signing. Wayne Rooney sealed the game for United on 78 minutes with a well taken free kick from thirty yards. Any result other than a United win would have been a travesty even if Uniteds first goal was never a penalty. Crystal Palace were a game and plucky side but they only threatened United’s goal once, when Dwight Gayle wasted a great oportunity on 41 minutes after ghosting past a napping Rio Ferdinand.
After all the talk, near certainty, speculation, rumour and counter rumour over the summer, Wayne Rooney is still a United player. Nobody will have thought this outcome likely on the 16th of July when some sections of the media and Rooney’s ‘people’ as well, deliberately miscontrued the honest if slightly naïve statement David Moyes made to the press in Bangkok on July the 15th, quoted in full below
“I think he’s got a major role to play because we need to try and get as many goals as we possibly can, I think Wayne can play up-top he can play dropped in. Overall my thought on Wayne is that he’ll be key. If for any reason we had an injury to Robin, we are going to need him. I want to be able to play the two of them, I want to be able to use Danny Welbeck, Chicarito as well.” (David Moyes, July 15, 2013)
When Rooney issued the statement saying he was “angry and confused” on the 16th of July, the focus was on Moyes saying “If for any reason we had an injury to Robin, we are going to need him”. The implication that Rooney was only a back up man to Robin Van Persie was supposed to be the cause of his ire. The fact that Moyes also said that “my thought on Wayne, is that he’ll be key” and that Rooney had “a major role to play” was somehow left out of most of the atributed quotes to him, was very convenient for both the press and Rooney’s camp. It’s no secret that Rooney wanted/wants to leave United and if by deliberately misinterpreting what Moyes said, could’ve helped him engineer a move away from Old Trafford, then all the better from their perspective. Looking at the way the press reported the statement Moyes made, when they mostly knew exactly what context Moyes said it in, gives some justification to Sir Alex Ferguson’s openly contemptuous and occasionally outrageous treatment of the media over the last twenty years. Despite the conciliatory rhetoric from both parties, the wish from both Rooney and United for a parting of the ways was and is mutual. The sticking point is that Rooney specifically wanted to go to Chelsea and they along with Manchester City (should they have been interested) were two clubs that United would not have sold Rooney to under any circumstances, for obvious reasons. United now have a player in the squad that wants to leave but that shouldn’t really be too much of a hurdle for both parties to overcome. The reception that Rooney got from the United fans at both Swansea and at Old Trafford against Chelsea and Crystal Palace show that whatever political maneuverings are occuring, he remains a popular terrace figure. Whilst Rooney sullen silence over the summer has hardly been what United fans want of a player, compared to the shenanigans involving Cristiano Ronaldo In the summer of 2008 and this summer as well, Rooney’s behaviour has been exemplarary. In July 2008 Ronaldo was angling for a move to Real Madrid with such undignified abandon that when FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that Manchester United should stop treating Ronaldo like a “modern-day slave”, Ronaldo replied “I agree completely with the president of Fifa. Now I have to wait and see, but I do not know where I will begin the season.” Sir Alex Ferguson privately bargained with Ronaldo that he play one more season then he could go to Madrid. In season 2008/2009, United effectively had a player who didn’t want to be there but without his presence and the 18 league goals he scored, Liverpool would have ended up champions. Ronaldo’s behaviour towards Manchester United in the summer of 2008 was nothing short of disgraceful yet when he came back to Old Trafford in March 2013 in a Real Madrid shirt and scoring the winning goal for good measure, the reception he received from the Old Trafford crowd was rapturous. For all the anger directed towards Rooney this summer, the desire from United fans for Ronaldo’s return has proved that time can be a great healer. Whether Rooney changes tack and decides he wants to finish his career at Old Trafford is up in the air. He could do and still end up being lionised by United fans in much the same way that Liverpool fans treat Phil Collins number one fan, Steven Gerrard. In the summer of 2005, scousers were burning Steven Gerrard shirts outside Anfield when he decided he wanted to move Chelsea. Amnesia is a very convenient thing for partisan fans of football clubs, the summer just passed and the impasse of 2010 can be forgiven by United fans should Rooney carry on playing like he’s started the season and a last minute winner from our head band donning centre forward at the Bradford Gasworks stadium next week would accelerate the reconciliation. As for how long it last, who knows?