Forget the Special One, Moyes should be worried about the Quiet One across town
It's the quiet ones you have to watch out for, so they say.
And while Chelsea and Manchester United are battering 10 bells out of each other over Wayne Rooney, the Premier League’s one-time noisy neighbours are calmly assembling a team capable of wresting back the title and finally making some impact in the Champions League, writes Dave Kidd of the Sunday People.
When Rooney handed in his transfer request in 2010, his likeliest destination was a crosstown move to Manchester City.
But that was in the era of City’s boardroom gob artist Garry Cook – the man who claimed Kaka had ‘bottled it’ by not signing for him; the man who approved the plastering of provocative Carlos Tevez posters along Deansgate.
This time, with Rooney’s relationship with United at breaking point, City are not getting involved.
Partly because the City hierarchy no longer feel the need to get involved in ego-jousting contests.
Their club is now a permanent member of football’s elite and they do not need to make statements of intent.
But it is also because City no longer believe that Rooney is worth the hassle. That he is too high maintenance and that his powers are on the wane.
It is not as if City are being frugal with their cash. All talk of youth development and ‘holistic’ approaches are so much pie in the sky for the Blue Moonies just now.
Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic have cost the Abu Dhabi oilmen a cool £84million. So we can expect another hike at the petrol pumps soon.
Indeed, the City board are only doing what Roberto Mancini demanded of them last summer – refusing to stand still by making top-end signings.
Roberto Mancini will be watching on ruefully as City show the urgency and strength in the transfer market that was so absent last summer
Mancini’s plea fell on deaf ears, with bit-part players such as Javi Garcia, Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell and Maicon unable to improve City and so the title was meekly surrendered. Now City are backing their new manager, Manuel Pellegrini, who intends to add extra width and attacking intent.
And while all may change in the heat of battle, there seems to be a quiet air of professionalism about Pellegrini, reminiscent of Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival in English football. A coach happy to concentrate on coaching, rather than upsetting his bosses, and a likeable man-manager allowing footballers to enjoy their football.
Ancelotti, of course, won Chelsea the double in his first season, and in eye-catching style. While City have been getting their big business done early, United and Chelsea are struggling to do so.
Of the three new managers at the Premier League summit, Pellegrini has attracted the fewest headlines.
Which will not bother the current regime at the Etihad Stadium one jot.
Jose Mourinho is the irresistible box-office idol, while United’s life after Alex Ferguson cannot help but fascinate. And whether Rooney ends up at Chelsea or not, this proposed deal means that the first shots have been fired in anger among the Premier League’s new order.
Would Mourinho have made his stark ‘Rooney or bust’ comment had Ferguson still been in the Old Trafford hot seat, rather than David Moyes?
Would Ferguson and David Gill have upset the remarkably sensitive Rooney camp by down-playing the striker’s importance to United, as Moyes and new chief executive Ed Woodward did last weekend?
If United truly wish to keep Rooney, this was not the best way to handle a fragile ego. Should they wish to sell, it was not the most effective tactic for driving up his market value.
Rooney's transfer tug-of-war is becoming a distraction for City's rivals
Yet if United do end up selling Rooney to a direct rival, this should not necessarily be seen as a sign of post-Ferguson weakness.
If Moyes does not see Rooney as a major part of his plans, he should back his own judgment and sell to anyone.
Great players have always left United and United have always carried on regardless.
Or does Moyes fear that Rooney, with the arm of Mourinho around him, could be restored to former glories, revelling in his status as the ‘main man’, the rampaging No.9, at Stamford Bridge?
Then what if Mourinho’s play for Rooney fails? United could be left with a discontented player, neither willing to be a squad man, nor deserving of such status.
And Mourinho would be bruised by early failure, with the signing of any other striker looking like a fall-back and a letdown.
Then there would be only one winner from this saga of the summer.
The quiet man, Manuel Pellegrini. Watch out for him.
Filed under: Euro 2012
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!