Henry Winter was quick to blame Wayne Rooney’s absence for United’s draw against Everton. Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision had “back fired” according to him.
Ridiculous, I thought. We scored three goals away from home, so it wasn’t our attack that let us down at the weekend.
However, the reaction of Everton players might make you feel differently.
“Rooney is one of the best players in the world and someone I respect a lot, so it was a positive for us that he wasn’t playing,” said Tim Cahill. “He is the best finisher in the world, there is no one better.”
Mikel Arteta echoed these sentiments, suggesting that Rooney could have played better under the pressure from the crowd.
“He is a terrific player and he has shown that many times when he has been here and under pressure he has played well,” he said. “They made a decision and they made it because they thought it was the best thing to do.”
Before the game even began, Everton were buoyed by the news they were facing a weakened United team. Rooney isn’t just about goals and assists, he influences games with his tireless effort and intimidation.
If Rooney had played, the game would have been entirely different, and we’ll never know whether that would have had a positive effect or not. We might have lost had Rooney played. Equally, we might have won 5-0 with Rooney scoring all five goals.
The point is we shouldn’t have ever been put in the situation where we’d have to wonder. We shouldn’t be sitting here debating on what would have happened if Rooney had played or not.
Some argued it was nothing to do with us what Rooney did in his private life, but as we can now see, this matter hasn’t stayed away from the pitch. It is on the pitch now because we played one of our hardest games of the season without our best player.
Sir Alex Ferguson found out about Rooney’s business a few weeks ago and the story was supposed to break the weekend we travelled to Fulham, which lead to Rooney being left out of the team. “Illness” I think was the official reason.
But with four games played, we’re four points behind, having played half our matches without our best player because he can’t keep it in his pants.
Fortunately we have 34 games for Rooney to make it up to us.