Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Should United really pay Wayne Rooney 300K a week?

I am not a Man United supporter. I am however scratching my head trying to understand just why they are so determined to pay so hugely to hang on to a player of questionable loyalty and professionalism who will be 29 later this year.

It was entirely understandable in many respects that United did not want to sell Rooney to Chelsea in the Summer.

Selling one of your best players to a rival when they've just reinstalled Jose Mourinho and you have just lost Sir Alex Ferguson probably didn't smack as the best of ideas. I can go with that decision.

What one would have expected though would be that Rooney would have had a price. A put up or shut up for Chelsea that given the amount of squad re-building that United would require would have allowed for investment in younger players to rejuvenate the squad.

United of course would have been weaker this season without Rooney, he is after all a fine player.

But for a player who is possibly already past his best and is known to not look after himself, blowing 300K a week - let's remember the reality of FFP - looks like one almighty leap of faith. Politicians might call the decision 'brave'.

Given that United turned down the option to sell Rooney last Summer, his dwindling transfer value dictates that they have backed themselves into a corner over offering him a new deal.

A new contract rumoured to be running to 2018 will net him somewhere in the region of 60M in wages. Add in that Chelsea would have probably paid 30M and around 10M in wages this season also so far, that's pretty much a 100M bet that they are better off with him than without him.

Whether Rooney is already in decline or not is debatable - clearly Mourinho didn't think so and neither do United it would seem - but I would wager a lot of money that he will be in decline by the time he turns 30 in eighteen months time.

Few players who do not look after themselves prosper from that age onwards.

Much of Rooney's plaudits come from his exceptional work rate. Whilst that does imply a lot of natural strength and fitness, there is no doubt that players whose games are based more on physicality can decline more sharply when the slowing down process inevitibly begins.

It is not to say that Rooney cannot adapt, he is of course a player of the highest calibre and many such as Alan Shearer went onwards into their mid thirties by adapting their games.

The problem for United is in investing in this experiment with Rooney's advancing years, they are paying wages which only the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic enjoy.

It is a stratospheric sum of money for a player who has not spent his entire career at the top of his game and has not looked after himself.

Now all of this might sound like I don't rate Rooney but that would not be true, I'm merely questioning the wisdom of giving a wage increase to a player who if not already in decline, is certainly on the brink of it.

During his time at United, Rooney has certainly been a very good player. He was however to a large extent in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo formally and last season that of Robin Van Persie.

Assuming this contract is duly signed, United will be committing completely to him seeing out the duration of that deal as there will be no other club - Chelsea were the only realistic suitor last Summer - that will match his wages. Much like Nani now, he will be 'un-transferable'.

It may well be that United's revenues and finances are far far better than I or anyone else realises, that not qualifying for the Champions League matters not a jot.

It does seem however to be an awfully big financial commitment when you consider how that money could be spent rebuilding a team that badly needs it - No Nonsense.