If Jose Mourinho and David Moyes found themselves on a desert island and played poker to take the only raft off the island, who would win? I think we all know the answer to that one. Moyes would be left clutching a coconut. An empty one at that.
According to all the information available to CFCnet, most of it public knowledge, the situation is this: Rooney wants to leave United for Chelsea. Indeed, it is very unusual that Chelsea ever make public a potential target, especially a player of Rooney’s profile, unless they have made a few phone calls and received a positive response. I won’t mention the words ‘tapping up’ in case m’learned friends get in touch or a certain Mr S A.
Chelsea’s strategy is quite brilliant and devious. By making the bid public, Rooney comes under fierce pressure. If he says he wants to go and the bid fails, United are destabilised with a star striker sitting in the reserves. His Old Trafford career is then over. For a new manager like Moyes, who already has ‘previous’ with Rooney, it becomes a nightmare scenario. That’s why Rooney can’t come out and say he wants to leave. He has to stay silent or he might end up spending a year in the reserves or on loan with Trabzonspor.
For United, it’s a very pressured situation. If they keep Rooney they will have a seriously disenchanted player in their ranks who is the major news story, week after week. However, if they sell Rooney, it seriously weakens them whilst also strengthening a major rival. That’s why there won’t be any progress on Rooney’s transfer until the very last day of the transfer window – United will want to make the transfer as painful as possible for Chelsea and certainly not allow the Club to integrate Rooney during a lengthy pre-season.
It’s very much the strategy that Spurs’ Daniel Levy employed when he sold Berbatov in the very last seconds of the 2008 summer transfer window. It’s the only poker hand United have – not allow Rooney to have a pre-season with his new Club, rack up the price and leave Chelsea unable to buy a second choice replacement if the bid falls through. But that’s a dangerous zero sum game with both teams potentially being weakened if the deal doesn’t materialise.
There is also a third reason why United won’t sell at this moment. Chelsea play United at Old Trafford on Monday August 26th. The last thing United want is to have Rooney face them and score the winning goal during Moyes first home game in charge.
The problem for United is that they are now dealing with a master poker player, on and off the pitch, in the form of Mourinho. Jose has already destabilised United by making the Rooney bid public. If United now take the transfer to the wire in a bid to prevent Chelsea signing another striker, then Mourinho will either have another ace up his sleeve or he will simply retain faith in Lukaku, Torres and Ba. And if Jose has faith in them, so do I.
Heads Jose wins and Tails Moyes loses. Welcome back Mr Mourinho. We’ve missed your Machiavellian mischief.