Wayne Rooney: Please Arsenal, Make Manchester United's Disillusioned Star Our Talisman...
As an Arsenal fan, imagine when you woke up today you did so to the news that we'd agreed a deal for Wayne Rooney. Really imagine it for a bit. Admitting I usually lace news of any signings with a default optimism (Silvestre excepted) I know I'd be very happy indeed.
I know some people seem to hate the idea of the once great young hope of English football gracing Colney and the Emirates. But to say nobody wants him at Arsenal is to ignore at least one fan. Me. And I can assure you I'm not alone. To even say it would be the worst thing to happen this Summer could be considered a groundless over-exaggeration.
I mean, imagine all of the things this Arsenal squad could benefit from; strength, added technical (and shooting) ability, a will to win, a taste of silverware and a bit of bite. If you're trying to tell me Rooney possesses none of those forgive me if I let it go somewhat over my head. His 'lack of form' at United, and his seeming disenchantment with life under Ferguson/Moyes seem to cloud the matter. But those issues – which started some years back – would be resolved by such a switch.
Some players need to know they're appreciated, and when Ronaldo was rocking the Red Devils shirt, that took the shine off Rooney. At Everton he was a precocious talent, playing without limits. Now? Well if needs to feel as though he's the main man in any squad then I think Arsenal is the perfect fit. If he wants to feel as though he can play with ultimate appreciation Arsene Wenger is the master of building his players up.
Alas, he's done it a few too many times with the Arshavins, Denilsons and Bendtners, but arguably the common factor there is none of them were established Premier League stars. We know Rooney is. He can score out of nothing, he can contribute in working back, assisting and delivering goals. He scored 12 times this season in Premier League, and in deferring to Robin van Persie, that's no mean feat. And even adding that contribution to this Arsenal squad would be a huge boost.
After all, why have a player who can score you 30 goals a season (Rooney's done twice in the last four years, incidentally), when you can have player who can score 14 (Walcott), 12 (Cazorla), 12 (Rooney) 11 (Giroud) and 11 (Podolski), and have them all in the starting line-up Wenger's search for the ultimate combination of squad players would be boosted surely? Giroud out? How about a choice of Podolski, Rooney or the young Sanogo leading the line. It's not exactly a paupers choice with Walcott and Cazorla on the wings, and a fit midfield trio including Wilshere. Giroud fit? Put Rooney in the Lampard role, and let him use his vision and creativity while scoring a deflected shot two.
To the English connection then. Though I've mentioned Rooney as a former precocious talent, we have some of our own. And not only might it benefit the national side now and later for Rooney to be playing with Wilshere, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain et al, but it might well benefit those players as well. Who knows better about handling being an England player at a young age than Rooney (sit down Theo). Wayne's made his fair share of mistakes and had to pay for them.
But why would Rooney telling anecdotes about mistakes improve our players? I suppose it's all a question of attitude. Of Rooney saying “Look, I went through all this and I've come out the other side a little bit wiser.” That would of course mean that he'd matured a bit. I know this in itself, combined with his attitude, is a contentious issue. But let's look at it this way: if he still needs a bit of guidance himself at 27 who better to offer it than Arsene Wenger?
Here's a man of whom the great Lee Dixon has said: “Arsene told us he could extend our careers if we followed his advice, so we listened. I played six years under him before I retired, so his methods can't be too bad.” Dixon was 32 when Wenger changed his and the other long-standing Arsenal players' bad habits, simultaneously changing attitudes to game-day preparation, player mentalities and more which persist at the top level to this day. More telling perhaps is the experience of Tony Adams.
Wenger famously stuck by him when the captain confessed about his off-field drinking problems. Not to say Rooney has any of those, but Wenger is clearly a man who will look after his players when they need a bit of guidance, boost them when they are low and let them do their thing when they're fit and firing. Providing they have the requisite quality, the method has worked time and time again.
The one major issue, as I see it, is the wages. Could now be the time to break the inflexible wage structure and offer the sort of deal that might tempt Rooney to come; to persuade him to galvanise an Arsenal squad in need of a star name or two for 'next-level' status? Also, a “top, top quality” player Wenger might think he is, but let us not forget that Rooney has twice fallen out with United's hierarchy. We very much don't want that at Arsenal.
For sure I'll take his talent, the psychological boost I believe it would give the club and hope he leaves issues of motivation behind him. But perhaps he's only human and just needs a new start. As an Arsenal Season Ticket holder, and someone who's convinced he's still a top player, I say let's give it to him.
Of course United would be reluctant to let him leave, which should tell us something we should already know...