Former Manchester United captain and new Everton signing Wayne Rooney irked United supporters with his comments recently bemoaning the drop in standards at the club following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
Since Fergie left, Rooney has claimed that it had been difficult for him and Michael Carrick to rise to previous levels. The focal point of the criticism was the recruitment at Old Trafford. There is no doubt that this is a thinly-veiled dig at some of his former teammates.
“Over the last few years, it was down to me and Michael Carrick to keep the new players maintaining those standards.
“That became more difficult over the last few years, with some of the players who joined the club. There are traditions at United that have to be maintained. It’s become harder, but that’s not my problem anymore. I’m just ecstatic to be back at Everton.”
This has understandably annoyed several followers of the English giants but when you take off the red blinkers and look at the cold, hard facts on the table, Rooney is certainly not wrong. It is hard to find a logical argument against this criticism of the club.
People should have seen that drop of standards coming straight away when the club replaced the greatest manager of all time with David Moyes. A truly baffling, and ultimately disastrous, appointment which virtually sent the club backwards.
Louis van Gaal steadied the ship somewhat but clearly was not up to the task of driving the club any further than an FA Cup triumph. Now it is Jose Mourinho who is picking up the pieces and attempting to guide the club back to the very top – where the biggest side in England should be.
It can be argued that even Mourinho is not United material but any manager will pale in comparison to Fergie. It is just like a father thinking any young man will never be good enough for their daughter.
The football displayed may not be the traditional ‘United way’ but the Portuguese boss is a winner, which is what United are all about: winning trophies. He’s already won the League Cup and the Europa League.
While Rooney’s comments are correct, the timing of him expressing his views is badly misjudged and, more importantly, there is an irony about them if he took a good, long hard look at his role in the drop of standards at the club.
There is a hint of bitterness in Rooney’s comments after the way his own United career ended with a whimper. This is something players would usually say after retirement, it was not a clever thing to say just over a week after leaving the club. It comes across as sour grapes.
Rooney also should take some responsibility for the drop in standards at the club. He was on the decline even before Ferguson’s retirement and if the Scot remained for even one more season, Rooney would have been sold on.
The drop in standards under Moyes’ watch saved Rooney’s United career as the so-called ‘Chosen One’ believed he could build his team around Rooney. Perhaps his first mistake of many.
Even the ruthless Van Gaal kept Rooney in the side despite a string of dreadful performances. The Englishman was Manchester United captain, it was part of his job to maintain those standards. He failed miserably at that job.
Rooney was a great player, he is United’s all-time leading goalscorer. He is a legend, but even legends can be criticised and no legend divides opinion among United supporters more than Rooney.
The Liverpool native’s brilliance at his very best was undeniable, it was a sight to behold, but he was not a leader in the shape of Bryan Robson or Roy Keane. As harsh as it sounds, maybe he should never have been made captain in the first place.
Rooney has given himself completely to United, he owes the club nothing but he is gone now. United had moved on from Rooney last season but now it is official.
Fans want to remember the good times with Rooney but comments like ones he made recently do him a disservice and can leave a bad taste in the mouth. He was at the centre of the drop in standards post-Ferguson.
He should focus on the next chapter of his career with Everton and let United move on. It was an amicable divorce, let’s not turn it ugly.
Vincent O’Shea, Pundit Arena