The first thing to do on David Moyes’ checklist is pretty obvious: what to do about Wayne Rooney? The irony is that he’s the man who unveiled, sold and sued Rooney being his boss once more will not be lost on either. Player and manager are understood to have had a agreement since comments in Rooney’s autobiography prompted Moyes to summon the lawyers, but the relationship is unlikely to ever be a warm one.
That does not matter. Managers and players do not have to get on to work together, the bigger problem appears to be Rooney's desire to leave Old Trafford. When he submitted his transfer request in late 2010 it was born of frustration at United seemingly being left behind by the wealth of Manchester City and success of Barcelona. In another ironic twist, Sir Alex Ferguson eventually acted on Rooney's demands and bought a top-class player, Robin van Persie, only for his arrival to lead to Rooney being replaced at the head of United's attack. Played out of position, on occasion left out completely, Rooney again asked to leave. Ferguson turned that down, presumably not wanting to force his successor's hand.
There is no doubting Rooney's versatility and drive make him an asset to any squad, but his impact at Old Trafford has waned. This season, though he did not suffer any serious injury, he has made only 36 appearances, the least of his nine years at United. In ten matches against the rest of the top six, he scored twice and was booked five times. In six Champions League ties he scored once, against Braga. Goals do not tell the main story for he played many games wide or in midfield, but the previous season he scored 34 goals in 44 matches for the club. In addition he was criticized by Ferguson for a lack of fitness, a damning charge for an elite athlete.
Rooney has long given the impression of a player whose physique, in an increasingly athletic game, suggests he will peak early. However, such is his football intelligence he may yet confound such analysis.
Here’s a question. Where could Wayne Rooney go? There are a number of viable clubs that have been interested in the 27-year-old forward.
Wayne Rooney to PSG has been an ongoing transfer story over the last year or so. It is speculation that won't quite go away.
For the French club it makes sense too. They have the financial backing to sign Rooney and as they look to become a dominant force, he is the type of place they would love to attract.
Not only is he considered as one of the best strikers in Europe, but he is high-profile and would be a massive statement from the club. It would show they mean business in the Champions League.
The German Champions have been tipped by many to dominate European football for the next few years, much in the same way Barcelona have in recent years.
Pep Guardiola is set to take over in the summer and has already added to an impressive squad with the signing of Mario Gotze. Could he be in for Rooney too though?
It would certainly be a fantastic move for the Manchester United striker and one that could get the best out of him. His way of playing could definitely suit the Bundesliga. A lot rests on whether Guardiola is a fan of Rooney and is willing to spend big to secure his services.
Reports in the last couple of days have suggested Rooney could be the subject of a £25m bid from Chelsea as they look to add to their forward line this summer.
There is definitely an argument to say this wouldn't be a good move for the player though. He wants a new challenge - is a move to United's Premier League rivals really the way forward?
The money he would earn would be significant, but whether Stamford Bridge would be the scene for Rooney to find his best form is another matter.
It would be a very surprising deal should it go ahead and a real sign that Rooney has fallen out with those at Manchester United.
A move to Chelsea would be considered fairly tame compared to one to Manchester City. Surely, Rooney wouldn't swap red for blue? If he does fall out with those at Old Trafford and Man City offer big money, perhaps Rooney will be tempted.
In the past, Rooney has been linked with Real Madrid and these rumors are gathering pace again. Jose Mourinho is a fan and if he remains at the club, he could be tempted with a move. A transfer to Spain would definitely fit in the 'new challenge' bracket for Rooney too, while United might be happy to sell to someone outside of the Premier League.
So, now that we’ve seen the alternatives, who could replace Wayne Rooney at Manchester United? Here are some possible strikers.
The Borussia Dortmund striker is one of the hottest prospects in European football after his four goals against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final shot him to superstardom.
The Polish marksman has been in top form for the Signal Iduna Park side long before the quartet of strikes against the Spaniards however, playing a major role in the 2011-12 Bundesliga and DFB Pokal domestic double.
With only a year left on his contract, rumors are overflowing that Lewandowski will leave Dortmund this summer for one of Europe’s top clubs. United are known to be admirers and a move for the lethal striker would make sense. Whether he could play alongside out-and-out frontman Robin Van Persie would be an issue to resolve for the new manager however.
Edinson Cavani / Radamel Falcao
Two red hot strikers hitting the back of the net on a regular basis for their respective sides, and constantly rumored with a move to a bigger club. Manchester City and Chelsea are thought to be monitoring both forwards, with Napoli and Atletico Madrid preparing themselves for summer onslaughts.
Two South American predators, whether Manchester United would be willing to meet the astronomical asking prices for either is questionable. City, Chelsea or PSG seem like more likely destinations.
The Portugal international is undoubtedly one of the top players in world football, and a mainstay at Real Madrid. However, Cristiano Ronaldo admitted to not being happy at the Santiago Bernabeu earlier in the campaign, and certainly remembers his time at Old Trafford fondly.
United would have to pay an astronomical amount to bring him back to England and beat countless other suitors to his hand, but this would be the move that 9/10 of the Old Trafford faithful would opt for given the choice.
Someone unexpected, or no one
With David Moyes, a move for an under-appreciated or more cost-effective player is not unrealistic. Given that United have Van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez to choose from, the Scottish manager may even opt not to replace Rooney.
Marouane Fellaini is a player that Moyes has worked extensively with at Everton, and the Belgium international’s signing would be one that could happen. The powerful versatility man has moved into a more attacking role this term with devastating effect, and would offer United something completely different to their current forwards.
Where do you think Rooney will go? And who would replace him? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter: @christianvansly