Van Persie has ‘stolen Rooney’s thunder’ at Manchester United, says former striker Michael Owen

By Sean Butters

Former Manchester United forward Michael Owen has put Wayne Rooney’s summer of discontent down to the arrival of Robin van Persie in 2012.

Speaking at last night’s Football Writers’ Association (FWA) Live event in Liverpool, Owen was responding to a question about player power, exemplified by the summer’s long-running Rooney transfer saga.

“Van Persie has come in and stolen his thunder,” said Owen.

“He [Rooney] was saying he wants to go to Chelsea knowing that if it didn’t go through he might be hung out to dry. The club made a stand.”

It was the second time in three years that Rooney appeared unsettled at United, beginning with Sir Alex Ferguson’s assertion back in May that the player had handed in a transfer request which led to the player’s exclusion from the manager’s final two games in charge.

Van Persie’s arrival was expected to signal the beginning of a dream strike partnership at Old Trafford, but, in spite of Rooney’s insistence that he sees himself as a striker, the 27-year-old found himself occupying a deeper supporting role behind the Dutchman.

While most would say that 38 goals and 25 assists in the league last season show the partnership to have been a success, the events of the summer were symptomatic of a somewhat different feeling in the Rooney camp.

While falling short of publicly stating that he wanted to leave United, Rooney’s apparent frustration was enough to prompt Chelsea to submit several bids. There is speculation that there may be another attempt to lure him to west London when the January window arrives, leaving a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the player.

Owen also touched upon another player who could prove a threat to Rooney’s starting place in Japanese international Shinji Kagawa, who has so far found it difficult to establish himself in David Moyes’ plans.

“I’m a huge fan of his (Kagawa). I think Moyes is missing a trick if he doesn’t play him.”

Picture courtesy of Tsutomo Takasu via Wikicommons, with thanks.

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