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Utd will flourish with or without Roo

Wayne Rooney has enjoyed nine great seasons at Old Trafford but Manchester United FanZoner Pete Hall can see why his time may now be up.

Last Updated: 25/03/13 at 21:00 Post Comment   

Rooney: Uncertain future at United

Rooney: Uncertain future at United

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Forgetting the result and THAT refereeing decision, one of the most conspicuous points to emerge from Manchester United's controversial exit from the Champions League on Tuesday was how Sir Alex Ferguson got it tactically spot on, prior to Nani's sending-off.

It's fair to say that, after going down to 10 men, the Red Devils capitulated far too easily, regardless of the merits of the referee's decision.

However, for the majority of the match up to that point, Ferguson's decision to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench, with Danny Welbeck slotting into a five-man midfield, had resulted in United controlling the game for large periods against one of the best sides in the world.

It led me to wonder... do we really need Rooney? I would love him as an option, but he would not be willing to sit on the bench. So would it be worth cashing in, and using the money we could recoup for the England forward to strengthen the squad in other areas? Maybe so.

Back in January, I wrote an article on how United should possibly look into the possibility of selling Rooney, which angered the majority of my fellow Old Trafford faithful, and I was vilified all over the social media stratosphere for even considering the idea.

Firstly, let me point out, I do not have a vendetta against the prolific Liverpudlian. How could I hold anything against a man who is fourth in United's all-time scoring charts?

However, purely because a man of his immense ability needs to be playing week in, week out, all may not be well after Tuesday night's surprising snub.

In a game as pivotal as the clash with Jose Mourinho's Madrid, Rooney was deemed unworthy of a starting berth, which in itself speaks volumes of his importance to the current side.

A few years ago, the former Everton youngster would have been the first name on the team sheet. Times have changed - but not necessarily for the worse.

Ferguson has assembled a squad many pundits and fans alike believe is the strongest he has had throughout his tenure at M16, with a plethora of variety in every position.

This has never been so evident upon the announcement of Tuesday night's side.

Not only was a man with 196 club goals left out, but a player who scored a sumptuous hat-trick only three days before was also named only as a substitute.

Shinji Kagawa was expected by many, including myself, to start behind Robin van Persie in a trequartista role after his performance against Norwich at the weekend, but even that wasn't enough to secure a starting berth.

However, due to the sheer array of attributes at his disposal, Ferguson is in the incredibly enviable position of being able to stifle any opposition's game-plan by throwing a spanner in the works, but one with the ability to cut it against the elite of European football.

Tuesday's metaphorical spanner was the local lad Welbeck, who can play in a wide role, running the channels, or as he did against Real, harass playmakers down the middle, not giving them time to dictate proceedings.

Xabi Alonso had one of his least influential games for Los Blancos in Manchester, partly due to Welbeck's tireless workrate and versatility.

Rooney is also far from being one dimensional himself. In previous seasons, he has been the focal point of the United attack, but has had to adapt his role and drop deeper into midfield to accommodate the flying Dutchman this campaign, to devastating effect on occasion.

With so much financially at stake in the modern game, a more defensive formation will always be preferred, especially on the continent, and with Rooney's natural attacking tendencies, he may be sacrificed more and more on the big stage, as he was on Tuesday.

David Beckham's omission from the line-up against Madrid back in 2003 was the beginning of the end for his United career, and if overlooking Rooney affects him as much as it did Beckham back then, Ferguson may feel it easier for all concerned to cash in.

I mentioned Robert Lewandowski as a potential new addition in my previous piece but, with such depth in amongst the current crop of talent down at M16, the substantial revenue a Rooney sale would recoup may be better spent on developing the youthful payroll further.

Again, this is not me saying that I personally want him out, and I want to reiterate that he would be a great asset to have in United's immensely talented ranks.

Whereas before I stated that financial reasons would be behind any potential sale of one of our prized assets, now it is simply a matter of the player wanting to remain a pivotal part of a team, and Ferguson prioritising for the long-term success of the club.

Rooney has been a fantastic servant for United throughout his nine seasons at Old Trafford, but even though some of the most illustrious of names in the club's recent history have left somewhat prematurely in some fans' eyes, they have moved on, and flourished regardless.

Even the greats have to leave sometime. Beckham did, remaining successful at Real Madrid, and the club certainly moved on simultaneously, replacing him with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. The rest is history.

Follow Pete Hall on Twitter at @pistolpeteh86.

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