Jan Molby

United want to keep Rooney – but Mourinho allure could prove too much

Jan Molby

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I actually think United want to keep Wayne Rooney. In many ways it’s the last thing that David Moyes needs.

I think Moyes’s comment about Rooney being back-up to Robin van Persie was nothing more than naïvely presented.

I’m convinced that’s not what meant to come across as saying. They have bigger plans than Rooney just being back-up.

I think Moyes was trying to say that, if Rooney was sold, any injury to Van Persie – who has a poor fitness record from Arsenal, remember – would leave United without any world-class strikers.

In any major team Rooney would and should be a major player. I think that holds for United too, and all they really want to do with him is get him fit, get him motivated, and get him back to his best.

If Chelsea could get him though it would be a major coup. The attraction for Rooney isn’t Chelsea per se, it’s Jose Mourinho.

It’s not the money – Rooney makes £250k a week at United – but Mourinho is arguably the best manager in the league right now and it’s an opportunity to work with him.

It’s probably a final opportunity to work with a manager of that stature as, if you assume Rooney’s peak is from now until his early 30s, extending at United would see him stay until close to the end of his career.

Even when you’re at one of the best clubs in the wold, you get excited about interest, especially from a super coach like Mourinho.

I’d be disappointed if this was any shape of form about money. Rooney has been well rewarded over nine years – this is about finishing his career in a place where he is valued, and where the coach and project matches his ambition. And, crucially, where he can get back to his peak again.

He’s not at his best level at the moment and Rooney knows that. He’s bright enough to realise that Mourinho might be able to get his focus back, and that a new challenge might inspire him.

Some players motivate themselves to play 20 years at the same club, players like Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs; others might get bored. I think Rooney falls into this category – remember, he has been at United for nine years.

There’s also the question of privacy. Rooney is often in the headlines for relatively minor incidents in his private life. London is such a big city – and there are so many high-profile people – that he would be less in the spotlight than where he is at the moment, flitting between Manchester and Merseyside.

Several players have said they feel relatively anonymous in London, and certainly they’re able to go about their daily business easier. For example, Andy Carroll can go for a dinner and a drink at a posh restaurant in the City and no-one will bother him; in Newcastle there’s always the chance of someone having a pop.

Ultimately though I think this is about football. It’s been a little while since Rooney’s been at his best and this, in theory, is the peak of his career. It is impossible to predict what will happen when he hits his 30s and he will know the next few seasons will probably be his last opportunity to get that chance. I don’t think the time left on his contract is an issue.

I think this is about Rooney renewing his focus on football – the last few years have been up and down and I would suggest he hasn’t enjoyed that.

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