Step out of line at Manchester United and Sir Alex will read you the riot act, just ask Jaap Stam and David Beckham. What appeared to be a quiet meal out with teammates and their partners ended up costing Rooney around £200,000 and a place on the bench against Blackburn. Ferguson was reportadly angry that Rooney had not been putting in the required effort during training after a dinner with teammates Johnny Evans and Darren Gibson. Following the clash between the England forward and the United manager rumours emerged about the club wanting to sell Rooney. Although the club, manager and player quickly denied this, lets delve into a crystal ball and see what could happen to Manchester United if Rooney were to be sold.
Rooney is undoubtedly one of the most naturally gifted players in world football and at the age of 26 should be peaking. Based on this and using recent transactions as a gauge, it is fair to say that Rooney would fetch a fee of anywhere between £30million and £50million. At the age of 18 Manchester United paid in the region of £25million for Rooney and he has continued to improve each season with the club. Following the transfers of Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres for £35million and £50million respectively, Rooney would appear to be a good piece of business even for £50million.
Despite a very good points return and second place in the league it is fair to say that Manchester United have had problems this season, something that Sir Alex will be more than aware of. After facing the humiliation of a home thrashing to local rivals Manchester City, losing to Championship side Crystal Palace at home in the Carling Cup and being knocked out of the Champions League group stage the squads depth has begun to be questioned. The main positions of concern for Manchester United supporters are the goalkeeper, central defender, central midfielder and striker. With issues throughout the spine of the team would Sir Alex be wise to cash in on Manchester United’s most prized asset and buy 4 new players?
What Rooney has consistently done is score goals, something that would obviously be hard to replace. Yet with Berbatov who was the leagues top scorer last season, Hernandez who impressed in his debut season and Welbeck who seems to get better every game he plays they do have a strike force capable of getting goals. Adding a player like a Demba Ba who is at a club that cannot afford to turn down offers or an instinctive goal scorer like Jermaine Defoe who needs to play games in order to make the Euro 2012 squad would be shrewd business.
Since Paul Scholes left the club last season Sir Alex has tried numerous players in the centre of the park without finding a successful formula. Despite re-signing Scholes until the end of the season the club need to look longer term. Tom Cleverly impressed early in the season before picking up an injury and looks to be a player that will be important to any future Manchester United success. But who will partner him remains open, Carrick, Anderson, Jones and Giggs have all played there this season with limited success. What the team is missing is a goal scoring midfielder, someone like a Clint Dempsey who can attack and push forward from midfielder. He has proven his worth over the past 4 seasons at Fulham and surely his time is due to move to a bigger club. Like the players previously mentioned he would be an astute signing as Fulham would find it hard to stop a player leaving for a massive club like Manchester United.
The defense has been an area of constant change for Manchester United this season. The first choice pairing of seasons past, Vidic and Ferdinand has been broken up due to injury. Ferdinand when he has played has looked slow, indecisive and nothing compared to the player he was. Evans who has been tipped by Sir Alex to be a future starting centre half for the team has looked poor all season and his confidence must have taken a huge hit following the 6-1 defeat at home to rivals City. Most people will agree Phil Jones has been a revelation for Manchester United this season but question marks remain over where his best position is. At centre half he looks assured, good on the ball and barring injury could play there for the next 10 seasons. What the team needs is a player who can slot in right away and provide cover for Vidic until he returns. A player like Phil Jagielka would be perfect for this. He has looked solid during his time at Everton and impressed for England in their recent victory over Spain. He could be bought for a reasonable price from an Everton team that is in no position to buy unless they sell.
Manchester United have a mixed history when it comes to goalkeepers. They have two of the best ever to play in the Premier League in Schmeichel and Van Der Sar, contrast that with the failures that are Taibi and Ricardo. Having spent £17million on young Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea, Sir Alex will have expected better from him in his first season. Having made errors and mistakes he has been replaced recently by the older Anders Lindegaard but Ferguson must have doubts over the Dane following recent mistakes. Sir Alex has three options, the first is to restore De Gea and have faith in the man he spent £17million on in the summer and who many saw as the goalkeeper of the future. He could sign another young keeper, someone like Joe Lewis from Peterborough who has represented England at under 21 level and who many regard as one of the best goalkeepers outside of the Premier League. The final option is to sign an experienced goalkeeper who could offer the team two or three seasons which would allow De Gea to continue to develop and adapt to English football, how Sir Alex must regret letting Tim Howard leave. The perfect kind of player would be someone along the lines of Jussi Jaaskelainen of Bolton. A player who has been in the Premier League for 15 years and could slot into a team without worries that he would have to adapt to the English game.
Although the idea of selling Rooney seems crazy to most football fans when you break it down and look at the many areas the team needs to strengthen the idea soon becomes less absurd. With Rooney and the club saying that the air has been cleared between the two sides it does look unlikely but crazier things have happened in football and this gives you an outlook on what could happen if the unthinkable were to happen. Manchester United clearly have areas of the pitch that they need to address and selling Rooney could be the key to solving their problems.