Wayne Rooney hasn’t played for Manchester United since May 5th when he was subbed on for the last 20 minutes against Chelsea. We had won the title three weeks before, courtesy of a Robin van Persie hattrick against Aston Villa, and Rooney’s performances were fairly average.
Having left the pre-season tour of the East a month ago with a hamstring injury, he was supposed to return for our friendly against AIK last week, but was ruled out with a shoulder injury he picked up during a training match at Carrington.
Since then, Rooney has played with the Reserves before returning to train with the first team, although was absent from Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial and won’t be playing in the Community Shield later today.
Several fans have claimed these injuries are not genuine but simply a signal of disharmony behind the scenes, with Rooney looking to move to title rivals Chelsea. Jose Mourinho claims that Chelsea have not many any contact with Rooney or his agent, which on the surface seems laughable, given both Paul Stretford and Chelsea’s previous for negotiating personal terms without a deal having been agreed between clubs first. Reports suggest that Rooney really has picked up these two injuries though and whilst he is fearful of the reaction of the fans, leading him to keep away from Old Trafford all together on Friday and not sit with the others who weren’t playing in the stands.
Robin van Persie, who watched Rio’s testimonial alongside the likes of Danny Welbeck, Edwin Van der Sar, Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic and Ashley Young in the stands, has claimed he hopes Rooney stays at the club. “He was one of the reasons I joined,” said the Dutchman. Apparently the feeling isn’t mutual though, with Rooney threatening to leave the club once before due to a lack of quality signings, and now wanting to leave again because we’ve signed a striker better than him.
Having kept quiet all summer, refusing to confirm or deny the reports that he was ready to leave United for rivals Chelsea, despite recently pledging the rest of his career to us, Rooney made a statement on his official Facebook page after being selected for the England squad.
“Can’t wait to join up with the England squad and hopefully play in a competitive match, they always are against Scotland. Big thanks to Roy Hodgson for selecting me and showing his faith and support, appreciate it.”
It would be hard not to interpret that to be a dig at David Moyes or maybe Sir Alex Ferguson, but this sort of childishness shouldn’t come as a surprise. The lad hasn’t got two brain cells to rub together.
Roy Hodgson has noted that Ashley Cole, one of Rooney’s best friends, will be keen to convince our striker to make the move to Chelsea, but the England manager will make it clear to the players that club business needs to stay away from their International duty. He also
“The situation is not an easy one at the moment for David and Wayne,” said Hodgson. “Wayne is very keen and anxious to be a part of this but he also is aware he might not be able to give us the full service that he normally does because of what has been happening to him fitness-wise. We believe he will be physically fit. He won’t be anywhere near match fit, he won’t have played anywhere near enough games and it will be up to our conditioning people too to help us out on that subject. The only problem is that my selection of him could be used as a wedge between David Moyes and myself. There’s not going to be any wedges put between us two, we’ve been friends for a very long time. David understands fully the situation. David knows what we have in mind and unfortunately we just have to accept that there’ll be some opinions on the subject and that people will try to drive wedges, but it’s wrong to do so. The situation is quite simply we have four very important games coming up in September and October. I haven’t seen the players since we left Brazil three months ago. It’s so important for me to have them around me now, the ones who are going to be important in September and October. Even if they can’t play a full part in the game or might not play any part, I want them there for these two or three days because we are a team.”
Moyes has been quick to reiterate Hodgson’s claims and whilst Ferguson was often criticised, fairly or otherwise, it appears as though the new manager is happy not to make this a club versus country issue.
“I am pleased that I had a long conversation with Roy last week about it, told him Wayne’s situation,” he said yesterday. “Wayne has had a shoulder injury which has meant he has not been able to have any contact and he has been sore with it, so he hasn’t trained with us. He has trained a little bit with the reserves as a non-contact player, but at least he got a little bit of football work. He trained with the first team today and he did a bit of extra work, so he is probably more likely to be ready for England than he will be for us. He is going to play for England and he has had no football practise. Roy knows, and I would only expect Roy to play him for a short time as well.”
If Rooney does play for England then you presume he will be available for our first game of the season away to Swansea. Expect the story to fill plenty more column inches when Rooney, who isn’t match fit, is left on the bench next Saturday.