Moyes' Schedule Complaints Are a Rooney Smokescreen
It has been almost two months since the Premier League released its schedule for the 2013-14 season, set to kick off this weekend. That’s 57 days in which Manchester United manager David Moyes might have complained about his side’s schedule to open the campaign.
But he said nothing, opting to wait until barely 48 hours before his side’s curtain-raiser at Swansea to gripe about what he sees as “the hardest start for 20 years that Manchester United have had.” (BBC)
“I find it hard to believe that’s the way the balls came out of the bag,” remarked Moyes on Thursday, adding, “I hope it’s not because Manchester United won the league quite comfortably last hear [that] the fixtures have been made much more difficult.”
Following their Saturday trip to Wales, the reigning Premier League champions will host Chelsea, travel to Liverpool, welcome Crystal Palace to Old Trafford and face local rivals Manchester City at Eastlands.
All of it will happen before the end of September, but in response to Moyes’ comments, a Premier League spokesman told the BBC the United boss had been “assured” the process had been “random and above board.”
He added: “[Moyes] has accepted those assurances.”
So why grumble at all? And why do it now?
The answer, in all likelihood, has nothing to do with United’s first five fixtures and everything to do with Wayne Rooney.
At the end of last season outgoing manager Sir Alex Ferguson claimed the 27-year-old had requested a transfer (ESPNFC), and, after missing the club’s preseason tour of the Far East with a shoulder injury, the England forward was asked to train with the reserves.
Not that the injury kept him out of England’s 3-2 friendly win over Scotland on Wednesday.
Rooney played from the start at Wembley, and in the run-up to the match Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson revealed the attacker had “no physical injury.” (Guardian)
Meanwhile, Moyes was being asked about Rooney—and Chelsea’s reported interest in him—at every media appointment he attended.
Moyes says Rooney is not for sale and adds that he is 'confident' new signings will arrive for United #mufc— Mike Keegan (@mikekeeganmen) August 15, 2013
Blues manager Jose Mourinho was preparing a third bid for Rooney, The Guardian reported last Friday. And while Moyes stubbornly continued to insist the player wasn’t for sale, the saga took on sideshow proportions.
So he threw up a smokescreen.
Suddenly, given his carping about a matter as trivial as the schedule, no one is quite as concerned with Rooney’s immediate future. Instead, they’re pillorying the new United manager—the Daily Mail, for one, led off with the taunting, “Excuses, David?”
No doubt the Scot is delighted with the distraction, and he’ll be sure to use the rare bit of calm on the Rooney front to try to convince the two-time 30-goalscorer to remain at Old Trafford for the long term.
He may even bring Rooney to Liberty Stadium at the weekend and give him some playing time against Swansea.
Hodgson on Rooney: "He is fit and raring to go." So no reason not to play for United at Swansea?— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) August 14, 2013
If Moyes has perhaps bungled an approach or two in the summer transfer market, he has so far managed to keep control of the most difficult file on his desk at the moment—the one labelled “Wayne Rooney.”
And how he continues to manage it will likely have as much to do with any success United experience this season as does any player he may or may not bring into the club.
His Thursday remarks would seem to suggest he’s well aware of this fact. His was a smokescreen his famous predecessor would have been proud of.
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