Footballers live in a fickle world. Every action they make must be in the best interests of their club and its fans and not for themselves. Great players who leave mediocre clubs are automatically branded as mercenaries. There is also that recurring theme of fans who decide that they ‘didn’t want him anyway’, upon hearing the news that a fan-favourite player has decided to hand in a transfer request.
But like many things in life, loyalty works both ways. Wayne Rooney could well leave Man Utd for a domestic rival this summer against cries of ‘traitor’ from the Utd faithful. But is he a traitor? Were United fans calling him a traitor for leaving Everton nine years ago to join the club in the first place? If he isn’t loyal to the club he began his career at, then it would be naive to think he would be loyal to any team.
Then there’s the fickle reality that while the Rooney of 2013 may be pretty handy, the Rooney of 2018 will be 33 years old with his talent receding as quickly as his hairline. If he does stay at United for that long, would he be of much use to them at 33? Would Moyes (and for the record I hope Moyes is a success) still want Rooney? Probably not. Nor would the fans. Where would the loyalty be then? Rooney would be shipped out of Old Trafford as quickly as the the club could find a replacement for him.
A certain Mr Carragher hit the nail on the head when he spoke of Luis Suarez’s current desire to leave Liverpool: ‘I think loyalty in football is overplayed a bit’. Basically, Liverpool are loyal to Luis Suarez because he’s such a good player and Luis has got to think of his own career and what he wants to achieve.”
This is coming from a man who knows a bit about loyalty, having been a one-club man for his entire career. No fan loves a footballer for any other reason than the fact that they are an asset to the club. When they make a few mistakes or age gets the better of them and they are no longer an asset, they will be replaced and the love will disappear. For this reason no fan can complain about disloyal players, mercenaries or whatever other nonsense they are referred to as because fans are just as bad.
In no other line of work would an employee be condemned by others for taking a promotion which meant better pay and a higher chance of success in their field and it shouldn’t be any different for footballers. After all, if you were a footballer, would you honestly turn down the chance to join one of the big boys just to appease your club’s fans? Much more likely is that you’ll be filled with an ever-lasting feeling of regret if you didn’t jump at the chance.
In that spirit, thank you Mr. Rooney for nine great years and if you do decide to leave this summer then you won’t hear any complaints from me.
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