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17th Jul 2013

Burning Issue: Would buying Wayne Rooney be a good move by Chelsea?

We now know that Chelsea made an attempt this week to buy Wayne Rooney. Has Jose lost it or is this another masterstroke by the Special One? Two JOEs debate the topic…

JOE

We now know that Chelsea made an attempt this week to buy Wayne Rooney. Has Jose lost it or is this another masterstroke by the Special One? Two JOEs debate the topic…

burningissue

Adrian Collins says… Wayne Rooney is right to agitate for a move away from Old Trafford, where his services are and have been undervalued for several years.

Rooney has been played out of position, used as a winger in the biggest game of his career, and more recently supplanted by Robin Van Persie up front instead of being given more freedom with the added attacking prowess of a striker who can get on the end of his creative play.

Rooney’s problem, if it can be described as such, is that he is a player who is inventive, powerful, skilful and has a very strong team ethic. He won’t neglect the work he needs to do in tracking back from the front, he has had to cover for a number of players who had no defensive duties (Berbatov, Ronaldo, Van Persie). He has, up until recently, rarely said ‘no’ when asked to simply pick up their slack, and perhaps this season when he hoped that the introduction of Kagawa and Van Persie would free him up in that respect a bit more, the opposite has happened, and he has once again been expected to cover his attacking partners.

With the two aforementioned players, Manchester United have somewhat replaced Rooney, but instead of taking up one space in the starting XI to cover his goalscoring and attacking midfield play, they now take up two. Kagawa’s ability to cover is decent, but he works better in possession, and Van Persie isn’t as involved in the build up play to the same extent that Rooney is.

Years ago, it seemed they recognised his ability, but his willingness to work for the rest of the team and cede his attacking workload in order to defend from the front has negatively affected his stock. But not his goal tally. In the last four years (starting in the 2009/10 season), his haul has had a strangely symmetrical pattern – 34, 16, 34, 16. That suggest in the season when he has been given a bit more freedom, he rewards them with goals. This season, he has only scored 16 thanks to being dropped regularly and suffering a bad injury at the start of the season, but many of his goals in that period where Van Persie wasn’t scoring kept United’s title run ticking over, and perhaps the club themselves are forgetting that.

Often forgotten too in all of this is the fact the he’s still only 27 years old. He’s played at the highest level for the last ten years and Rooney’s record is consistently fantastic. Were Chelsea to buy him, I certainly think that Mourinho can get the best out of him as he has with countless other players who are much older than Rooney is now.

The Portuguese has seemingly made it clear from day one that he doesn’t fancy Juan Mata (not a fan of the Spaniards after his recent stint in Madrid) and he knows from his own experience, while on their day the trio of Hazard, Oscar and Mata are fantastic, they could be easily bullied out of possession. He values hard work, defensive solidity, and gives his creative players free reign when he can, a system under which Rooney would flourish.

The one question mark that hangs over him is his dedication and fitness, but Mourniho has never had a player in his ranks for whom that is an issue. He seems to instil a tactical and personal discipline in his players that keeps them in top shape.

If, at the age he is when he should be hitting his peak, Jose can wave his man management magic wand and get him on top form and to his physical peak, Chelsea will walk their way to the league title, leaving the others floundering in their wake, and Rooney lifting the golden boot at the end of the season.

Sean Nolan says… With all the money in the world, why would Jose Mourinho want to try and rekindle the fire in the diminishing force that is Wayne Rooney?

It’s been a bumper summer for strikers on the transfer market. Falcao and Cavani have already moved for massive money, Neymar has gone for big bucks too and it looks like Luis Suarez, Stefan Jovetic and Gonzalo Higuain is also up for grabs. So why, with all that talent available, and with some of it still up for grabs, would Jose Mourinho make a move for Wayne Rooney?

To me any of the players mentioned above would be a better bet than Rooney at this point of his career. The Manchester United striker turns 28 in October, so he should be reaching his peak years as a pro. But Rooney has been a top flight player for well over a decade and it is pretty clear from all we have seen that he does not look after himself in the way that the lads who play on well into their 30s do.

As he gets older, his injuries have taken him longer and longer to get to back to full fitness, another consequence of his less than natural athleticism. Another is the gaps in his scoring runs. Always a streaky player, Rooney has now developed a discernible pattern of scoring in a run of games before then failing to produce for extended periods, usually after a lay-off. If Chelsea are serious about going for the title again, they need a reliable player, not a player who will roll in and out of form.

But this is not to suggest I don’t think Rooney is a good player. He has wonderful skills and when he is in the mood, mentally and physically, he’s one of the better players in the Premier League. But his attitude at Old Trafford has been appalling at times, threatening to leave and questioning the club’s transfer policy. When it comes to signing a player who you think will push you closer to winning the title, those are the warning signs that he may be best avoided.

Chelsea need a striker, as Fernando Torres is but a shadow of the player he was, Demba Ba is not top class and Romelu Lukaku is still raw, but Rooney is not the answer.

He can’t be dropped deep, as United would often do with him under Fergie, as Chelsea already have a huge arsenal of players in that region who are younger and better at that part of the game. Perhaps it is just an attempt by Jose to weaken a rival and hopefully improve his team at the same time.

From all that David Moyes has said since he took over, selling Rooney would be something he would very much like indeed. For that alone, Chelsea should be wary, never mind all the other stuff about fitness, performance and attitude.

Mourinho is a short-term manager, and perhaps, if lucky, he could get a 2008/09 type season out of Rooney (56 games for club and country, 35 goals) or a 2010/11 season (49 games, 38 goals). But he could just as easily get a bad year, or a terrible year. It’s a gamble, and with so many better bets on the table this summer, Rooney’s just not worth the risk.