For the best part of two months, the footballing community has been caught up in “Rooney-gate”, as the current Manchester United superstar weighs up whether or not he will remain with the Red Devils for the coming season.
This saga has had fans scratching their heads for a while now, as the pendulum appears to swing one way and then the other in regards to the striker’s future.
We are currently in the most tenuous period yet. New United boss David Moyes is adamant that Rooney will be staying despite reported outlandish bids on the part of Chelsea's returning manager, Jose Mourinho, for the forward.
From a Manchester United perspective, it is getting to the stage where any resolution will favour the club.
While Rooney is a terrific talent—having the ability to change a match singlehandedly on his day—one has to call into question whether the hysteria surrounding the Liverpudlian’s potential move away from Old Trafford is seriously detrimental to the club.
It would be ludicrous to suggest that this recent drama directly resulted in the failure to secure the transfer of Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona. But one has to consider how much of an impact it had on it.
With Moyes preoccupied as he attempted to keep hold of one of his star players, there would have been little to no time allotted to bringing the Spaniard to Manchester.
Perhaps with the news that United are interested in his former Barca teammate, Cesc Fabregas (BBC Sport), one could suggest that maybe Thiago was never really as much of a priority as many United fans thought.
Whatever the case, Rooney’s continued—for lack of a better term—temper tantrum is worryingly becoming the defining factor of the English champion’s summer.
With all of this attention being devoted to keeping Rooney at the club, is there enough care or time being put into improving the lacklustre central midfield, which has dogged United for over half a decade?
If Rooney stays, then United have managed to hold onto a quality player. But at this point, a summer exit, if it is going to happen, needs to occur sooner rather than later.
Sir Alex Ferguson always instilled the mantra at Old Trafford that no one player is bigger than the club.
United have lost star players before (including David Beckham, Eric Cantona and Ruud van Nistelrooy), only to bounce back the next season and win the league.
The Red Devils will go on without Rooney, but if they are going to lose him, then a desperate summer-long campaign pandering to his needs is the complete wrong way to go about it.
If it really appears to Moyes that Rooney no longer wants to stay at the club, then he needs to be quickly cut loose.
Aside from taking the attention away from important summer deals, one can only imagine what kind of negative effect this is having on the dressing room.
Witnessing what is slowly becoming a dangerously sloppy set of negotiations cannot be all that moral boosting for the United players committed to the cause—especially in these incredibly early stages of a new era under Moyes.
A falling-out between player and club has the disastrous possibility of causing a rift in the United camp—with those players sympathising with Rooney on one side, and those sticking by the club on the other.
Thankfully for United fans, it would appear as if the stable mentality that Fergie implanted into the team over the past 26 years has prevented anything like this from happening (so far), with no reports to suggest that there is a rift as yet.
However, when one player is unhappy in a dressing room, it doesn’t take a whole lot for that negativity to seep like a poison around the team as a whole.
If Rooney stays at the club against his will, and Manchester United get off to a poor start this campaign (not at all unlikely given that they face Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City in their first five fixtures), then it won’t take much for the team to turn on the new United boss with a figure like Rooney stirring up trouble.
Whatever happens over the coming month—however backhanded or upsetting for United fans—Rooney will always be on the most successful players to have ever put on the famous red jersey of Manchester.
But if “Wazza” is truly unhappy and really wants a move away from Old Trafford, then Moyes has to let that famous Fergie mantra speak for itself.
If Rooney wants out, then he needs to be allowed to go so that United—and, more importantly right now, Moyes—can get on with the rest of the summer and build to challenge the likes of Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal for the season ahead.
Even if that means letting Rooney go to one of their aforementioned rivals, it is better than allowing their summer—and maybe even the start of the 2013-14 season—to become “The Wayne Rooney show,” as opposed to a period of growth for the club in this delicate window between new managers.
Wayne Rooney is still a world class player, whatever his critics say. But unless he suddenly has a change of heart, it is time to part ways with the man who will always hold the honour of top scoring for United under Sir Alex.