EPL: Sell Roon, and buy Bale, United

Gareth Bale's poster in New York's Times Square has been replaced by a cartoon following speculation of his exit to Real Madrid.

1. Break the bank or go broke

After weeks of fruitless conjecture, a speculative headline finally stirred the soul... Manchester United are ready to enter race for Gareth Bale.

The story was published on Monday in The Independent, a British newspaper not prone to gossip, and there cannot be anyone outside of the Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge who doesn't hope that there's a grain of truth in the report.

Decent players put bums on seats. The best get bums off seats.

Bale was a spontaneous standing ovation last season. The thought of him linking up with Robin van Persie is an enticing proposition, more than enough to invigorate what has been a bland transfer period.

A move for Bale will also realign United's ambitions and underline their global strength.

Why shouldn't the world's biggest club bid for the world's most attractive transfer target?

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is exasperated with Real Madrid's grand-standing and Bale's determination to leave.

United's intervention would kill two birds with one stone. Only it won't be a stone, it'll be a financial avalanche.

The Glazers saddled the club with crippling debts, but van Persie won United the Premier League. Bale could bring back the Champions League.

Levy and Bale's cash demands are eye-watering, but the potential rewards are priceless.

Selling Wayne Rooney to Chelsea may be championship suicide, but selling Rooney to partially finance Bale's arrival would be a masterstroke.

The Red Devils promote themselves as the world's most popular club.

Live up to the billing. Bid for Bale.

2. Why United need big names

United certainly didn't play well against Wigan, but it was the Community Shield, a glorified lazy Sunday afternoon kickaround that panders to corporations doing their charitable PR bit.

The bigger issue is not David Moyes' United, but Sir Alex Ferguson's United.

A remarkable statistic revealed that the five teammates behind van Persie - Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Ryan Giggs, Danny Welbeck and Antonio Valencia (at the end) - knocked in seven EPL goals between them last season.

Remove van Persie from the equation and that's relegation form.

The enthusiasm surrounding Wilfried Zaha was a confusing cross between encouraging and lamentable.

It's unfair to place the burden of United's title defence on such slender shoulders.

Just as it was equal parts entertaining and worrying that Ryan Giggs was again one of the most productive attacking resources.

Giggs once won games on his own. Zaha may do so in the future. But neither can perform the feat right now.

3. Rooney must go

Poor Moyes. The Rooney situation is a problem with no solution. Whatever happens now will be the wrong decision for United.

Against Wigan, Rooney's dashing interplay and industry between the lines were desperately missed.

Without their lightning rod, they were listless.

For that reason alone, Moyes must keep Rooney.

And then, the England striker takes to Facebook to sarcastically thank Roy Hodgson for selecting him for the Scotland game, taking a petulant swipe at his paymasters.

The reading between the lines was more obvious than the Da Vinci Code... My country thinks I'm fit and good enough to play, but my club don't.

The Facebook post was an inglorious two-fingered salute to United.

For that reason alone, Moyes must ditch Rooney. To make that happen, Moyes can only strengthen his major title rivals, Chelsea.

He's up to his neck in the brown stuff. No matter how he extricates himself, it's still going to stink.

4. Keep Superman away from kryptonite

If Van Persie is ruled out with a long-term injury, the Red Devils will struggle to stay in the top three.

5. Neat snatch-and-grab

When Stewart Downing joins West Ham for £5 million ($9.7m), Sam Allardyce will have signed both the England midfielder and Andy Carroll for just over half the fee Liverpool paid for Carroll two years ago.

There are two obvious conclusions to draw. First, Kenny Dalglish almost buried his beloved club under the weight of the squad's mediocrity and their inflated wages.

And second, the Hammers might have slyly pulled off a second transfer coup.

The jury is still out. As former West Ham striker Tony Cottee pointed out last Monday night, Allardyce hopes to sign Downing of Aston Villa, not the current Liverpool misfit. If Downing replicates anything like his Villa form, West Ham will have trawled the bargain basement most successfully.

6. The importance of the England-Scotland clash...

None whatsoever. A meaningless friendly that lost its significance more than three decades ago - and was struggling even in the 1980s to retain any resonance with the public.

Managers aren't interested, players are still blistering from their suntans and fans are focused on the EPL.

Hodgson is scrambling to put a side together. Scotland have been scrambling to put a side together for a decade.

Of course there will be one player who's delighted - Rooney. He knows Jose Mourinho will be watching.

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