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Dirty Tackle

Suddenly realizing he needs Wayne Rooney, David Moyes tries to be nice

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

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When David Moyes took over as Manchester United manager over the summer, Wayne Rooney had already made his second demand for a transfer in three years. Less than a month after starting his new gig, Moyes reportedly made the already ugly situation worse by saying, "overall my thought on Wayne is, if for any reason we had an injury to Robin van Persie, we'll need him." Rooney was said to be "angry and confused" about the comment and, through indirect means, he pushed harder for a move to Chelsea that was never going to materialize.

Now the transfer window closed and Moyes is stuck with the only player he has ever sued for libel. But instead of waiting for Robin van Persie to get hurt, Rooney is proving to be the difference maker that he is right now. Even a nasty gash on the Rooney's forehead couldn't stop the 27-year-old from helping Moyes in his time of need — when the early season doubts surrounding the new guy replacing a living legend smashed into a 0-0 draw at home against Chelsea immediately followed by a 1-0 loss to rivals Liverpool (in which Rooney did not play) and a bumbling end to the transfer window.

Resigned to being in Manchester for another season whether he likes it or not (and it seems he's still thinking "not"), Rooney started the next match against Crystal Palace and scored his first goal of the season to top off a 2-0 win. Then, against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, he scored twice and set up another in a 4-2 win. All of this after he came on as a 61st minute substitute in the season opener against Swansea and set up two goals in the 4-1 win. Simply put, Rooney is proving vital to Man United's results and Moyes' survival even with Van Persie healthy as a horse.

It seems Moyes is realizing that fact because he's starting to lay on the niceties pretty thick. At his press conference ahead of the Manchester derby, Moyes was asked if he missed Rooney at Everton after selling him to Man United in 2004 — the deal that led to the passage in Rooney's 2006 autobiography that prompted Moyes to sue and Rooney to "sincerely apologize" and pay a settlement reportedly worth more than £500,000 to the man he wrote was "jealous" of him.

From ITV:

"Have I missed him?" said Moyes.

"At the time when he left I wasn't too sure but now I am with him I certainly have because he is some player.

"If I had had him at Everton, on several occasions at different times, undoubtedly we would have finished in a much higher position.

"He has matured, as young men do. Once you get a family it calms you down."

"Now I am with him," is a key phrase there. It's where his thoughts seem to take a hard turn off the path of vengeful honesty they wanted to careen down for the leisurely highway of ego-stroking platitudes. Of course Everton would have been better if Rooney stayed, but to say he's calmed and matured since having a family —despite the prostitute scandals and obscenities shouted into TV cameras (not to mention the two attempts to force a transfer through press manipulation) — is a bit much.

This is where Moyes and Rooney find themselves, though. Trying to ignore their differences in order to feed their own ambitions. It's working well enough for now, but then again it is only September.

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