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Monday, 18 October 2010

United must decide: Wayne or Fergie?

This time last year Wayne Rooney was in the form of his life, banging in goals for fun, leading his team to a title charge and being described by some pundits as the best in the world. How it can change so quickly.

Currently the start talisman is suffering probably his worst period as a professional footballer; he's seriously out of form, there's been damaging allegations into his private life and now a public falling out with manager Sir Alex Ferguson, whose relationship was once likened to that of a father and son.

The root of United's and, in particular, Rooney's demise can be traced all the way back to April when they faced a trip to Bayern Munich in the quarter-final of the Champions League.

Despite Rooney getting giving his side a perfect start, the night ended in disastrous fashion when Munich scored a late winner and Rooney limped off with a serious looking ankle injury.

And with Chelsea looming large in four days time in what was pretty much a title decider, it was a catastrophic blow for the reds.

Since that moment Rooney has not been anywhere near his best with club or country and has been plagued with injuries.

But maybe even more damaging was the allegations into his private life with tabloids exposing extremely sensitive and personal issues which must of hurt Rooney more than he let on.

Ferguson's response was to drop Rooney in the next match at Everton in order to protect him from abuse from fans. An odd decision considering Rooney, and United, seem to get that everywhere they go and it's now part and parcel of being a professional footballer.

And it gets worse after Rooney publicly contradicting Ferguson by denying having an ankle injury  and admitting to being bemused as to why he his boss had said that.

As a result Rooney is now at boiling point with everything stacking up against him. His refusal to sign a contract may only be to signal his desperation to play football and get back to form but for United the problem could escalate  out of control with Real Madrid strongly linked to the Englishmen.

Whatever the case there can be no denying that one of the best talents that this country has ever produced is going through his toughest time in his career and Ferguson will play a big part in how the saga ends.

It will certainly suit United that the transfer window is currently closed for more than two months, it means that there is time for communications to be reconnected and for damaged relationships to be repaired.

But a lot will depend on the manager. As we've seen on many occasions that when Fergie wants a player out then that player is out of Manchester for good; Beckham, Keane and Van Nistelrooy spring to mind.

However with Rooney it's different. I strongly believe that Ferguson is keen for Rooney to stay and that he is trying protect him rather than cast him out.

This doesn't suit United's number ten, though, because Rooney is desperate to kick every ball and play every game and sometimes his passion and willingness to play can disguise whats best.

In the end it may even come down to a choice between the manager and player; who goes and who stays?

Many people will rightly feel that Rooney is the future of United and that Ferguson has had his time but others will beg to differ.

As United currently sit three points behind their arch rivals City and level with Tottenham, they know that the competition at the top is greater than ever and it's crucial to keep their best asset for the years to come in order to remain as one of the dominant forces in English football.

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