It looks like Wayne Rooney’s days at Manchester United are numbered. The "Will he go? Won’t he go? He really wants to go!" saga has produced some absolutely textbook indications of when a player’s time at a football club is coming to an end.
Nothing is certain in football, apart from who will win third-division Nigerian football games. For anyone within football, one's time at a club can suddenly finish out of nowhere. Just ask every Chelsea manager.
However, in the case of Wayne Rooney’s transfer-request hokey cokey, it’s pretty obvious his time at Old Trafford is coming to an end, and his imminent departure has been more drawn-out and torturous than the ear-chopping-off scene in Reservoir Dogs. The biggest difference between the two is that Wayne Rooney has taken more money from Manchester United than the Reservoir Dogs protagonists could ever take from a bank.
We’re going to see which boxes Rooney has ticked in his Manchester United checkout checklist—so we know, in the future, that if any of the following are true, then a player's probably on his way out.
Back in May, when this Rooney transfer request (or, as Rooney claims, not a formal transfer request. Just an informal enquiry about how soon he can play for a different club—big difference apparently) was still quite new and not approaching a level of dullness only surpassed by Michael Owen’s Twitter feed, Wayne Rooney backed up his desire to find greener grass on the other side by changing his Twitter bio.
Now, we don’t need to tell you what a big decision changing the wording of your Twitter biography is. You only get 160 characters to describe yourself. To amend this is Facebook-relationship-status-level huge.
He replaced the words “Manchester United player” with “@NikeUK athlete."
In your face, David Moyes.
So if you were to click on Rooney’s Twitter now, you would not have a clue which team he played for.
Well, apart from his Twitter profile picture of the cover of the latest installment from his trilogy of probably-not-ghost-written autobiographies that feature him in a Manchester United shirt.
Or his Twitter header photo, which has everything in black and white—apart from him in a full-color Manchester United jersey.
Or the hyperlinks to his personal website and official Facebook page, which houses the largest collection of Wayne Rooney-in-Manchester United-branded-gear photographs this side of Paul Stretford’s shrine.
Besides those, you wouldn’t have the foggiest idea who he plays for.
When the euphoria and jubilation of fans holding a victory parade to commemorate your club’s record-breaking 20th English league title can be interrupted with hatred by your presence, it’s safe to say that it isn’t going well.
During Manchester United’s victory parade in May, Manchester United fans temporarily put their joy on hold to boo Wayne Rooney, who had the audacity to try and take some credit for United’s Premier League victory because he contributed 12 goals and 10 assists over 27 appearances.
The cheek of it.
It’s bad enough to be booed by your own fans. But being booed by your own fans at a celebration of victory is a tough gig.
That’s a good indication that your time might be up.
On Wednesday the Manchester Evening News sought the opinions on the Wayne Rooney transfer saga from the 11-year-old boy who had made a sign in 2004, when Rooney was at Everton, saying "Please Buy Rooney" and took it to Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson, notorious for basing his transfer policy on child-made signs, did indeed obey the request of the almighty sign and bought Rooney shortly after.
But, as is usually the case over a period of nine years, 11-year-olds become 20-year-olds and opinions on Wayne Rooney change.
Joe Ruane, who made that sign back in those hazy days of 2004 when The Hills wasn’t a thing, has now said that Manchester United should sell Wayne Rooney.
He told the Manchester Evening News: “Nobody is bigger than Manchester United and I am sad and disappointed that a player who I regarded as a hero seems to think that he is. I’d be happy to see him go now.”
When sign-making children are telling you your time’s up, it’s time to start looking for pastures new.
You know that when you get a new boss (unless you’ve never had a real job; then in that case you must be a Kardashian), it can be very worrying. What will he/she change? Will he/she like me? Will he/she do a proper criminal-record check, unlike the last boss, and find out about my secret boss?
Nobody needs it.
So imagine this—it’s announced your new boss is coming in today and, low and behold, it’s someone who has previously sued you for libel.
You have previously had to make a public apology to your new boss for lying about him.
Do you imagine it would be water under the bridge and it would be forgotten about?
Well, that’s the situation Wayne Rooney is currently in.
David Moyes successfully sued Rooney in 2008 over claims in Wayne Rooney: My Story So Far (the 2006 installment of football’s answer to the Twilight books—Wayne Rooney’s autobiography trilogy) that Moyes had leaked a conversation between the two to the press in order to force him out of Everton.
Moyes won a reported settlement between £50,000 and £150,000.
Looking back, we’re having trouble believing Rooney is the sort of guy who needs to be “forced” out of a club.
In October 2010, Wayne Rooney handed in his first transfer request as a Manchester United player.
In September 2012, Wayne Rooney said handing in that transfer request was the biggest regret of his career.
In May 2013, according to Sir Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney handed in another transfer request .
In September 2012, Wayne Rooney must have been lying.
You can look for signs you are not wanted at the club from your manager, from your fans, from your wife, from your kids and from sign-making adolescents, but the definite indication that you are going to leave a club comes from when you keep asking to leave.
The moral of the slide is: If you keep asking to go, you're probably going to go.