Wayne Rooney has an ego.
That’s not a criticism—all the best players have one.
In his autobiography Managing My Life, the former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said an
ego was one of the qualities he always wanted to see in his players.
For nearly nine years, Ferguson respected Rooney and massaged his ego at Old Trafford.
He made him feel wanted and loved, until he dropped him for the Champions League tie against Real Madrid in March.
Rooney has not forgiven or forgotten that sleight.
As reported in the Daily Mail, Ferguson confirmed that Rooney had asked to leave United.
The Scot had lost faith in the England star, and if he was still the United manager today, the player would already have been sold this summer.
It would have been a mutually-agreed parting of the ways, for Rooney no longer felt loved by his manager.
Despite David Moyes taking over at Old Trafford this summer, The Guardian reported that Rooney believes Ferguson will retain power and influence at the club—and he wants a clean start elsewhere.
The first thing Jose Mourinho would do is make Rooney feel loved again, and give his ego some attention.
At Chelsea, Rooney would again be the main man. This matters to the player. He hasn’t been the main man at Old Trafford since Robin van Persie’s arrival a year ago.
The big players talk about the importance of the team, but it is just that: talk. They want to be the most revered member of it.
There was a time when Rooney would accept being in the relative shadow of another player, like when he was a team-mate of Cristiano Ronaldo for five years, but not any more. He turns 28 this year.
In Mourinho, Rooney will see a kindred spirit, another figure with an ego who wants to be the centre of attention.
A Rooney-Mourinho relationship would be based on them both seeking to rebuild their reputations at Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho believes he knows how to get the best out of Rooney, and is appealing to the player's ego before he has even arrived at Chelsea.
He has already made this abundantly clear in his briefings to the press over the last month, as the Daily Mail reported, telling Rooney he is Chelsea’s only transfer target this summer.
The pair’s relationship would also flourish, as Mourinho is keen to give Rooney what he wants: the lone striker role.
Rooney’s best season for United came in 2009-10, when he played up front as an orthodox striker and helped himself to 34 goals in all competitions.
This is the striker Rooney wants to be again, and he sees Mourinho at Chelsea helping him achieve it.
If it ever happens, the Rooney-Mourinho relationship, two egos driven by the need to succeed, could be a potent and successful combination for Chelsea.