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Is Moyes right to start Rooney against Chelsea?

Jose Mourinho has used the word “ethical”, in relation to Chelsea’s behaviour when bidding for our player, every time he has been asked about the Wayne Rooney situation.

Of course, Mourinho has been anything but ethical, particularly when confirming that Chelsea will be making another bid for the player after Monday’s game. That is essentially saying to Rooney that he could play and score against his future club.

Thankfully, from a title winning perspective, United are set to shun any future bids from Chelsea. However, the club are reportedly “furious” at Mourinho’s attempts to unsettle the player.

Whilst there are still some Rooney defenders, preferring to believe that Sir Alex Ferguson invented Rooney’s wish to leave the club and who somehow don’t find any guilt in the player’s silence over the past three months, the truth is Rooney is keen to play for Chelsea.

Their performance against Villa at home earlier this week, relying an offside goal from Ivanovic to win the game, after he should have been sent off, as well as the apparent blindness of the referee to John Terry batting the ball out of the way with his hand in the box, suggests Mourinho hasn’t managed to get everything running as smoothly as he would like just yet. United, in contrast, had a much better start in a more difficult fixture at Swansea, comfortably winning thanks to two goals a piece from Danny Welbeck and Robin van Persie.

However, with Rooney starting the game on the bench, having hardly played this summer, when he did come on he made a big difference. Whilst the third goal was all about Van Persie’s individual brilliance, it was Rooney’s first touch pass on the turn that set the Dutchman up. Whilst the fourth goal was all about Welbeck’s perfectly timed run and delightful chip, it was Rooney who played in an inch-perfect ball to allow the Longsight lad to show what he is capable of.

Whatever you may think of Rooney, whether you were the sort who would have stood in the away end chanting his name or the sort who would boo him, there’s no denying that he is one of our better players. Whilst an unhappy Rooney could damage our team, he would certainly do more damage at Chelsea, who are in desperate need of someone like Wayne. They’ve scored four goals this season and none of them have been by a striker. Our third choice striker, Javier Hernandez, is better than any at Chelsea, whilst Welbeck certainly will give them a run for their money (even if not on last season’s form).

In 2012-2013, Rooney was off the boil, but he was still easily one of the most effective players in the league, with his 22 goals and assists equalling Juan Mata’s tally. So if Rooney isn’t that up for it this season, if he doesn’t want to play for United and is miserable playing for Moyes, he’ll still serve a purpose, particularly ahead of the World Cup next summer.

With that in mind then, should Rooney start Monday’s game against Chelsea at the expense of Welbeck?

“Wayne has got a good chance of playing,” Moyes said yesterday. “He’s got a good chance of playing against Chelsea, a good chance of starting.”

To leave Rooney out of the team would be allow Mourinho to get exactly what he wanted, one of our most dangerous players not posing any threat to them, which would be scandalous. At the same time, if Rooney’s head is not in the game, if he’s unable to cope with the pressures of playing against Mourinho’s Chelsea, wondering whether he will sign for them before the window closes, then is he going to be any use to us?

Whether in the starting line-up or subbed on, you can almost guarantee that the Chelsea fans will cheer his name. “We’ll see you next week, we’ll see you next week, Wayne Rooney, we’ll see you next week” is the chant you might hear, just as Victor Moses did when playing against Chelsea for Wigan last season before signing for them. It is well documented how Rooney struggles to perform when faced with off field drama and you have to wonder how he’ll react to Mourinho’s comments and the behaviour of the away fans. He is rarely able to manage the emotion of playing against Everton and come away with a good performance, and you wonder if it will be the same on Monday.

But then Rooney’s scored six goals in the past three seasons against Chelsea and if he’s resigned to the fact the club won’t be selling him, he’s got to know there would be no better way to get the United fans off his back than by scoring against Mourinho’s men. Fans are fickle, and whilst plenty won’t ever take to Rooney the way they did before again, he can certainly mend a few bridges by wrapping up three points for us on Monday night.

We don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes though, so you have to presume that if Moyes puts Rooney in the starting line-up, it’s because he believes he’s the best man for the job. But you can’t ignore what a kick in the teeth it will be for Welbeck, who on merit alone deserves a starting place, without even considering how much more this club means to him than it does Rooney.

Watch this space…


About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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112 Comments

  1. The Hound says:

    Nairobired, your logic is flawed if you think losing twice to Chelsea last means they’re a stronger team than us now. The table had us finishing a mammoth 14 points in front of them and that’s what counts at the end of the season every season. We lost home and away to Liverpool in 08/09 season and still finished first. They then went out and strengthened that summer spending more than us while we lost Ronaldo. Remind me who finished above who the following season? You can’t throw up useless stats like that.

  2. Sid says:

    I think Rooney shud start….he has scored 197 goals for d,club n if he scores,a hat trick…or evn a goal or two he retains d trust of fans n more importantly Moyes…..imagine d scene if he scores a hat trick n goes at d Chelsea bench n show Manchester United batch on his face!!!! N in worst case if he does not play well…..den we’ll hv a player leave United aftr 9 years of his lets say great goal scoring ability….I’d like to go back to last season now….i guess he did pretty well coz he wasn’t gven a center forward role n he played behind RVP….now evn if u suppose Ronaldo goes to Barcelona n play in d position Messi plays evryday den m damn sure Messi will b unsettled….u r givin a club ur whole n suddenly d position u r used to or keen to play in is gone….trust me it hurts….n coming back to reality….Rooney shud start…bcz he’ll gv a clear indication aftr d game dat if he wants to stay or go…

  3. Jay says:

    How would people feels if he scores and doesn’t celebrate?

  4. nairobired says:

    @thehound
    That’s the kind of counter argument I expect. Shows there os a debate, not just name calling. Liverpool, punched above their weight that season, they even beat madrid at the barnebeu if I remember correctly. Everyone said the results didn’t match the team quality but liverpool believed in the hype. After a year,benitez was fired and I remember fergie saying liverpool would not manage the same sort of challenge coz the team was not up to standard.
    We all hate mourinho, but I personally i cannot ignore one of his latest comment, where he says the epl did not have the strongest squads last year.
    Look, right now the bets are against united, but we have shown that we usually beat the odds and out perform, but that’s not to say we have the best players just because we beat city. It’s just that on the day, we wanted it more. But I remember a time when. United had the best squad.
    We were the favourites to win most of the games.

    Ps, I have had a few whisky shots so my coherence maybe in doubt. Hope you get my point though.

  5. Marq says:

    @samuel

    Whilst it is true that it is not about the value, I am merely pointing out a logic that doesn’t make sense. Yes Chelsea might need a Rooney more than Mata, but why would they weaken themself to get Rooney? Its the same situation as us. Rooney is not even top dog for us now and we are against him going to Chelsea. So why would they sell their most important player, the player that will provide most of the assist if Rooney does go there. Its like buying a bullet but selling your firing pin. Doesn’t make sense

    @wakey

    You forget Real have their own TV deal. If you look at their profit each season, they can afford Bale easily

  6. thymm50 says:

    Rooney wants to be a United Legend, the all time highest goal scorer for the club, he wants to play every week, as the top striker. But the fact that RVP has been. better than him is making him unhappy. Rooney is selfish and self centered, and greedy too. He has lost his loyalty to the club

  7. Proverb says:

    Re: kagawa

    Cheers
    @nairobired
    &
    @WeAreUnited.

    I’m excited though, moyes has implemented more positively into the team already. Our team dominates possession even against the likes of swansea who usually creates hell lots of chances, but against us were cut to almost 0 chances. The high pressing game is exciting aswell, kagawa once geared up will get alots of chances under moyes.

  8. Wakey says:

    @Marq
    Their turnover is great but their profits aren’t at all healthy. They are also massively in debt as they borrowed money significantly from Spanish Banks expecting as happened before for the banks to ignore the intrested owed and eventually to write it off (or for government hand outs). None of which is now happening due to the Spanish economy being in such a mess that they can’t afford to.

    The TV deal helps them but it doesn’t allow them to blow over £80mill on a payer having already spent about the same own others

  9. lordrt says:

    Risky but if he’s named in the squad then he must play, either as a starting 11 or sub. But definitely Mourinho will try to destabilize United with his dirty tricks and I don’t see Rooney giving much contribution in that particular game.
    May be time for some serious talks, like Mata coming the other way if he’s going to chelski or up the cash for about 40M

  10. Marq says:

    @Wakey

    What you have to consider is the increased revenue that Bale can bring in. There was a discussion on an old thread about how Ronaldo’s transfer fee paid itself with the extra revenue. And although Bale isn’t as marketable yet, it does play a big part, hence the big fanfare they always do. And the most important part is that Real have so far only wanted to pay in instalments, which wouldn’t be a problem for them at all.

  11. sid says:

    U cant compare bale to Ronny…..

  12. sid says:

    And ETHICAL……..my Ass

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