Wayne Rooney: Why Fighting for His United Position Is the Motivation He Needs

Sam PilgerContributing Football WriterJuly 15, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 05: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United sits on the bench prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on May 5, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

“Overall my thought on Wayne is, if for any reason we had an injury to Robin van Persie, we'll need him,” said the new Manchester United manager David Moyes, as reported by The Guardian, at a press conference in Thailand last week.

The message to Rooney is clear: You’re not my number one, you have to earn it and you have to prove yourself to me all over again.

Nursing a hamstring injury back in Manchester, Rooney would have digested Moyes’s words with a strong sense of unease.

And if he was still left in any doubt at all about his position at Old Trafford, the club’s new chief executive Ed Woodward said there would be no new contract on offer to him either this summer.

“There are no contract renewals that are being discussed,” said Woodward, as reported in The Daily Mail. “I am not sitting down with any player on an extension and there is no trigger date in the diary.

“Would we be afraid to run a contract down? Of course not.”

So Rooney will not be offered a new contract at the moment and is not the manager’s first choice.

This season, Wayne Rooney is on trial.

For the first time since he joined United nine years ago, he will start the season having to fight for his position.

David Moyes has made it clear Robin van Persie will be his main striker and will audition the rest of his squad to play alongside him. 

Rooney will have to scrap with Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck for a starting role.

The greatest threat to Rooney’s position, however, could come from Shinji Kagawa, who should play a major role in his second season at Old Trafford and could be used in the number ten role behind Van Persie.

The stories of Rooney’s demise last season were somewhat exaggerated.

He scored 16 goals in 31 games as United reclaimed the Premier League title and provided flashes of genius from his late winner at Fulham to his long-range dipping goal against Norwich City.

However, Sir Alex Ferguson, always a master in detecting even the slightest slump in form, believed Rooney was not at his best.

Ferguson made reference to his fitness not being as good as it could be, and substituted him 10 times during the season.

When United needed to win a game, Ferguson hauled off Rooney and entrusted the role to someone else.

“He's not happy being taken off a couple of times this season, but Rooney in top form wouldn't have been taken off,” said Ferguson at the end of last season, as quoted in The Daily Mail

It now falls to David Moyes to get Rooney back to this top form, and making it clear to him he has to fight for his position could do it.

Maybe Rooney has grown complacent.

Maybe he thought he would always be the main man at United.

He might not like it, but now Manchester United have given him all the motivation he needs to reclaim his best form.

He won’t walk back into the United starting lineup. It is no longer his right. He will have to earn it now.

Can he reclaim his very best form and prove he deserves a starting spot and a new contract, or will he sulk on the sidelines?

Over to you, Wayne.