Wayne Rooney, an outsider at Manchester United
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June and July are the months of rumours and gossip in English football and at the moment Wayne Rooney is providing the broadsheets and tabloids with enough material to fill their back pages.
Three years ago, when the mercurial Manchester United forward handed in a transfer request, he held all the aces. He was United's top man in the previous season, having scored 26 league goals in their title winning campaign. Coach Alex Ferguson had to coax him to change his decision. An improved deal that saw Rooney earn close to £300,000 a week kept him at United then.
The Rooney situation at United has changed since the arrival of Robin van Persie from Arsenal last season. Thirty goals in his first season has made the Dutchman the No. 1 striker at United, something even new manager David Moyes has acknowledged. Moyes said Rooney will come into the picture only if Van Persie is injured, something that did not go down too well with the Englishman. Into this growing chasm between club and player stepped in Jose Mourinho.
"Rooney or bust," said the new Chelsea boss, on his bid for the United frontman. Whether Rooney is required at Chelsea, who have plenty of attacking options in their squad, or if it was a way of unsettling United or if it was just mind games, only time will tell.
But United are under not too much pressure. Some say Rooney, even at 27, may be beyond his prime. Letting him go would also reduce the wage bill. Also, very few players have succeeded (in terms of winning silverwares) after leaving Old Trafford. Even Cristiano Ronaldo has won just one La Liga title since leaving United four years ago. Rooney may just have to accept his status as the underdog in the current scenario.