By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
David Moyes and Wayne Rooney.
They haven’t done any cheesy ‘see, we’re still deeply in love with each other’ Hello magazine style photo shoots, but it hasn’t been too far off. Since Moyes officially took the reins at Old Trafford, that has been the official line.
Any problems they’ve had are ancient history, water under the bridge, libel damages in the bank account. When Moyes spoke to Talksport earlier this week, he said it load and clear – he has a good relationship with Rooney (27), he’s not for sale and is part of his plans at Manchester United. Except it didn’t end there.
Fitter than ever?
Stumbling on to ‘protesting too much’ territory, Moyes went on to explain Rooney was ‘fitter than ever’. Unless Rooney has somehow pioneered a technology that converts beer and chips consumed on holiday into muscle mass and aerobic capacity, it’s hard to see how he could be fitter now than when he was clearly overly rotund at the end of last season.
If the claim look scarcely credible moments after the words tumbled out of his mouth, they looked a lot more ridiculous a couple of days later as Rooney left United’s tour of Asia due to a hamstring injury. As his record of showing up for England friendlies tells us, Rooney pulling out of an inconsequential match is nothing new, but with speculation about a move building, the rumour mill cranked into overdrive.
The cranking continued, fuelled from an odd source. Former England rugby international, Brian Moore linked Rooney with a move to Chelsea.
#cfc I'm hearing Rooney to Chelsea – totally unconfirmed but from a normally decent source.
— Brian Moore (@brianmoore666) July 12, 2013
The wisdom of such a move is open to debate, but wisdom hasn’t always been prevalent in Chelsea’s transfer dealings. You suspect that Jose Mourinho is more than capable of pushing the correct psychological buttons to get Rooney back to his best and that may be all the logic that’s required. On form, he could fit into any team in the world and in tandem with Mata, Oscar, Hazard and Schurrle it’s not hard to imagine a very dynamic attacking unit. Despite Moore’s dubious record of success in transfer rumours, Chelsea are now just 6/4 to be Rooney’s next club after being as big as 5/2 on Thursday evening.
Fear of cash rules out Wenger
Arsenal are now looking less likely to get involved, no doubt partially due to Arsene Wenger’s fear of ever using a cheque book. PSG are far more comfortable with splashing the cash and they remain a potential if somewhat unlikely destination at 7/1.
There is, of course, a chance that it’s all genuine and Rooney will be going nowhere. Maybe he is injured, maybe he gets along surprisingly well with Moyes and maybe there’s still room at Manchester United for him.
But maybe now is the time for the club to cash in. An unhappy and demotivated Rooney may never hit the heights we know he is capable of and with him turning 28 in October, we’re nearing a point where he will no longer command the huge fee he once might have.
The thought of Rooney leaving to join Chelsea would have once sent United fans into despair. These days you get the impression it wouldn’t give quite such a bad case of the Blues.