Moyes declaration was a firm statement of intent, ensuring that potential suitors were made clear that they would be wasting their time looking at the England man.
“The fact of the matter is that Wayne’s not for sale,” he said. “He’s a Manchester United player, he will remain a Manchester United player. We’re working together now. And I see a little glint in his eye. He looks happy and he looks as if he’s saying: ‘I’m going to knuckle down, I’m going to get myself right.’ And I can only say I’ve been impressed with how he’s done. He’s a terrific player and I’m really looking forward to [working with him].”
Moyes could hardly have been more emphatic, but at his unveiling he then went on to talk about Rooney becoming the club’s all time top scorer. It is an easy fact to miss that he is not far off breaking the record set by Bobby Charlton, who netted 249 times for United. Rooney is on 197. It seems strange to think that of all the great players to play for United, from Charlton to Denis Law, George Best to Eric Cantona, that it is Rooney who could end up as the top scorer in the club’s prestigious history.
To do that though, Rooney must rediscover his former powers. There is no doubt that at his best he is a wonderful player. A blend of sheer physique, power and pace, but with an intelligence that belies his powerful frame and skill and shooting power to make him one of the most potent threats in world football on his day. The problem is that it is not Rooney’s day often enough. He has struggled, perhaps because of fitness – he is well documented to have had issues in the past when it comes to his physical shape. Becoming fitter and leaner could be key for Rooney to become the player he used to be.
Rooney must also mature. He does not appear to have reacted the way a top player should to the challenge that Robin van Persie threw him last year. The Dutchman came in, took his place at the head of United’s attack and Rooney seemed to sulk for half of the season, failing to show the talent and application he is capable of.
In a sport like football, there is a limited shelf life for those players who lack the physical condition and mental application. Rooney is in danger of burning out his huge talent well before the sell by date. He has so much ability but it could easily go to waste. He should look up to Ryan Giggs, still playing and now a coach too at Old Trafford, for an example of how to look after your body. If Giggs can help Rooney to improve his fitness and physique, he could just save the last years of his career. It is well documented how at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger’s arrival in 1996 helped the likes of Tony Adams, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn to extend their careers through modern sports science and diets. Perhaps Rooney needs a similar effort made with him to prolong his career. One thing that is true of the player is his determination and will to win. It may just be that which brings out of him his natural competitive instinct and gets this player to rediscover the glories of days gone by.