Football (soccer) is never short on a story or two. Wayne Rooney and Liverpool FC seem to be invariably the sources of them currently. As Liverpool recede slightly from the news (although any absence of a pick-up in form will surely see coach Hodgson sacked fairly soon – particularly since potential managerial candidate Frank Rijkaard has been sacked from his most recent job), Wayne Rooney has most definitely taken over.
There’s a huge, huge amount beneath the simple story that he wants to leave Manchester United. Having won most things they are to win while at Old Trafford, he has stated that the club’s ambitions no longer match his own: He wants to win Trophies. United won only the Community Shield and League Cup last season, a very poor turn-out compared to recent seasons that have seen United win the Premiership repeatedly and the Champions League.
But United have lost Ronaldo to Madrid and Tevez to Man City in the last couple of years, without proven replacements (although Nani reportedly scored a great goal last night to secure victory in the Champions League for United, his contributions are much more sporadic than Ronaldo’s ever were), and their start to the current season has been decidedly circumspect. Still unbeaten, they’ve only won 3 of 8 games and thrown away winning leads all too often – 3-1 at Everton and 2-0 at home to West Brom. Such form is uncharacteristic in the extreme for Manchester United and it would seem Rooney is applying his skills of forecasting to tell us that Man U won’t be winning much any more. It’s a bit like the Bank of England giving its inflation forecast though given it then takes some action to ensure what it predicts happens – if Rooney does leave then the probability of Man U doing worse increases substantially.
There are, of course, many other theories doing the rounds about why he wants to leave, perhaps most obviously: Money. Apparently he could earn twice as much down the road at Manchester City, or down in Madrid. UEFA is bringing in financial fair play regulations next year apparently – restrictions on how much clubs can pay footballers. Hence this may be a classic case of barmy regulatory structures and unintended effects via the incentives they create. If Rooney can’t after this season get a fat pay packet from City or Real, then he needs to get moving now so he can still get it. Apparently a number of agents are telling their clients this currently.
So, football fans who oppose all things financial being involved with football (when it harms their team), do we really think these arbitrary restrictions being introduced by UEFA next season are an unmitigated good thing?