In tying down Wayne Rooney, Manchester United’s chief chaser of lost causes, David Moyes and the United hierarchy hope to send out a message. Following Juan Mata’s £37.1m arrival, Rooney’s £85m five-year contract was meant to show the Red Devils meant business.
Still, did binding a player, who some believed may already have peaked, make sense for a club that has been famous for discovering and promoting young players while shunting out those past their prime?
The current Manchester United team that David Moyes is moulding, has Rooney at its heart. His vision, work rate and leadership are something that Moyes would love to rub off and sprinkle on those around him. Since his old manager’s arrival, Rooney has shown traces of being the player he was once touted to be. If one were to judge his place in the current team, Rooney is as close to indispensable as any player in world football.
Even so, the numbers make the mind boggle. At £3,00,000 per week — reportedly £2,40,000 as a basic salary plus image rights and other commercial bonuses — Rooney is now the highest-paid player in English football. He has also been promised a shot at being captain, ostensibly after Vidic leaves at the end of the season.
Despite the numbers, United may just get lucky. For one, they would have found it tough to mine the transfer market and get someone of Rooney’s quality for that price. Also, having Rooney is better than facing Rooney, something Moyes will know well from his years at Everton.
Many have questioned if the United team have taken to their new manager. For Moyes to be his own man and step out of his predecessor’s gargantuan shadow, he had to be seen to make a statement. This deal is exactly that.
With the objective of overhauling an ageing and underpowered squad, Moyes has got off to a decent start after the travails of the July transfer window. In Mata, Rooney, Januzaj, Van-Persie, Carrick and De Gea, United supporters will see some semblance of a spine. More work remains to be done though for the Moyes-Rooney axis to work.
(Hormazd is a senior sub-editor in New Delhi)