2008 – Shifting of Loyalties
It was 2007. Manchester United were visiting Goodison Park for their match against Everton. The very place where Wayne Rooney started his football career and made his mark on the Premier League, before leaving for Manchester United in 2005 for $30 million. So naturally, the Toffees faithful were voicing their protest against the striker.
The frustration grew. The tempers flared. The ever-so-irritable Scouser couldn’t take it anymore. A series of bad tackles followed. The pressure clearly had gotten to the young man, but he was not going to crumble. Standing in the middle of the park, he grabbed his shirt and kissed the Man United badge. Suckerpuch, delivered. That too in the face of his beloved boyhood club.
The loyalties had shifted. He was no longer a Blue. Adored by the red-half of Manchester, Wayne Rooney soon became a genuine Manchester United legend. The famous banners of “Once a blue, always a red” were to follow. “He goes by name of Wayne Rooney” soon became Stretford End’s favourite chant. For years to come, this man was going to be the face of Manchester United.
2009-2010 – The Rise and the Fall
Years rolled by. Players came and went, but he stayed. After missing out on the golden boot to Didier Drogba in the 2009-2010 campaign, Wayne Rooney soon established himself among one of the best strikers in the world again. A new season began and it was working out well for the Red Devils. The Champions League campaign was well on-course.
Wayne Rooney looked a bit marred. The fact that he was not happy was overt, but the reason was not. Issues with wife Coleen Rooney were only perplexing the matter. After months of speculations, the whole conundrum was solved. It was not something the Mancunians would welcome. The man handed in a transfer request.
The fans were left stunned. They were gutted. What went through his mind? – No one, but him, knew. According to Sir Alex Ferguson, he wanted to win more trophies and was seeking “assurances” about club’s ambitions. Assurances? It turned out that the so-called “assurances” were heavy incentives-in-disguise. A rise in wages soon followed. The number 10 was quick to apologise and claimed he will win the fans over with his performances. He did win them over, but not exactly through his performances…
2011 – Back in Business
A new season began. Wayne Rooney was complimenting the sublime form Manchester United were in. He scored a hat-trick at Old Trafford in an impressive 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal. Call it fortune, or just a lack of concentration, United suffered an equally venomous blow in their own boulevard.
The noisy-neighbours Manchester City humiliated the three-time European Cup winners scoring six goals at Old Trafford. A shift of powers? – Many questioned. So when United finally visited the Etihad Stadium, a lot was expected from them. The City supporters took on Wayne Rooney.
It was a feeling of déjà-vu for the England international, but he had to perform. The superstar scored and went on to celebrate. He stood before the City fans and kissed the United badge, again. Similar circumstances, similar outcome. He was the fan favourite, again. United fans were left bewitched. They fell in love with their “White Pele” all over again. He kept his promise. He won them over. Easy as you like.
2013 – A pattern was forming…
It was 2013. A new season. United were cruising. The team was in sumptuous form. Manchester United were to face Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. The focus was entirely on Cristiano Ronaldo’s coveted return to the Old Trafford. United lost to the Galacticos, due to some catastrophic decision making by the referee. But what was equally surprising for the people was Wayne Rooney’s elimination from the squad in pivotal tie against Los Blancos.
What exactly went wrong? He wasn’t injured. He was not in the best of the form arguably, but a player of his caliber deserved to start against a team that big. It was ocular that something was wrong. And finally when the season drew close, Sir Alex let the cat out of the bag. Yes, Wayne Rooney had handed in another transfer request, for he was unhappy being taken off a couple of times.
United fans could sense the similarity. They were witnessing a pattern being formed.
The sorrow of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, the elation of winning the 20th league title and the fury against Wayne Rooney’s transfer request. The United fans were clearly going through their most emotional period in recent years. But this time, the pleading and weeping was inevident. You can go Roo, said the red half of Manchester.
Football is called the “beautiful game” for the emotions that are bound with it. Kissing the badge may be a mere form of celebration for some, but for those who live the game, it means much more. The way it looks, Wayne Rooney certainly is not among those bright ones.
His future is uncertain. Whatever be the outcome, United fans must try to adjust to this pragmatic nature of the modern football. Emotion don’t stand a chance. It’s time they adapt to this air of obstinacy. It’s time they stop singing – “He goes by name of Wayne Rooney”.