At David Moyes' introductory press conference as Manchester United's newest manager, were any of you entirely convinced that Wayne Rooney isn't leaving the club this summer? (If you're not raising your hand next to your computer/tablet/mobile phone...) Yeah, me neither.
The new gaffer did his job well when he tried to get ahead of the line of questioning in regards to Rooney by stating this:
"Wayne Rooney is not for sale. He's a Manchester United player and will remain a Manchester United player. I've had several meetings with Wayne, he's training brilliantly well, he's come back in good shape and I really look forward to working with him."
The questions by journalists at the press conference were generally tame*, but when somewhat further pressed if that meant Rooney would absolutely not be leaving United this summer, Moyes responded this way:
* There were definitely opportunities for some to further push forward on Thiago and other matters -- but they were relatively docile. Perhaps this is still a remnant press reaction from the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
"We've spoken several times and I'm saying: 'whatever happened before is gone Wayne, we're working together now. And I see a glint in his eye now. He looks happy, as if he is saying 'I'm going to knuckle down and get myself right'. I can only say I've been impressed with how he's done."
This issue was actually about to go away, before someone 'categorically' asked if Rooney has committed himself to United next season. This was Moyes' response:
"I can tell you categorically Wayne Rooney is training fantastically well."
That's a non-answer if I've ever heard one.
Perhaps Rooney will stay, perhaps he'll go. That's the point -- it's still all uncertain and everyone is leaving themselves outs.
All of that makes this report by the Daily Mail* somewhat interesting. Here are the essential noteworthy points:
* I hope by now that Callum's coverage of this transfer window is appreciated and if it is, then his clear explanations of some of his belief in Daily Mail reports should strongly be considered.
- Mourinho still rates Rooney and after Edinson Cavani's increasingly likely move to Paris Saint-Germain, it makes sense that the Englishman could be the first choice of the former Real Madrid/Inter/Porto manager. Even the laziest discussions suggest that Rooney could turn into a world-class player again if motivated -- well, if you believe that, then Mourinho could definitely get the best out of the mercurial striker in the next few years.
- Tactically, Mourinho is adaptable. At Chelsea, he could take advantage of their superb attacking-midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 or he could revert to his old Chelsea 4-3-3. Either way, Rooney would (theoretically) be a good fit -- granted, that they didn't bring in better players like Cavani or Robert Lewandowski. Rooney as a 'false 9' dropping deep and allowing the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Andre Schurrle, etc. to run run beyond him could be breath-taking -- and he'd force Romelu Lukaku to stay motivated.
Anyway, it's definitely the silly season. But it's feasible that Mourinho would desire Rooney and offering him weekly wages of £240,000 and a £25-30 million transfer fee for United is reasonable -- there isn't a great market for Rooney, but a premium to Chelsea or Manchester City certainly makes sense. And it's something Chelsea could afford, even in the curious FFP age.
Wayne Rooney's situation is wide open. Who assumes the responsibility of his gamble?