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Old 5th November 2010, 19:38   #1
tomclare
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Default Rooneygate

Rooneygate

When the news broke on October 18th that Wayne Rooney wanted to leave Manchester United, it set in motion four consecutive days of media frenzy which were full of conjecture, speculation, and supposition. Manchester United fans reacted to the news with pure venom and hatred, and this towards a player who only 24 hours earlier, they had all adored. The news had come out into the open like a thunderbolt from the sky. For those fans it was an unthinkable, shattering experience, and many thought that it was a slap in the face both to them, and to the Club, who, over the previous months, had stood beside Rooney after serious revelations about his private life had been exposed, and also in regards to his loss of form on the pitch.

Most newspaper’s sports pages led with a leaked story that Rooney was not prepared to sign another contract with Manchester United, and in effect, wanted away. As is always the case, there was never any confirmed identifiable source quoted to the story, but too many of the broadsheets, and the red tops, were running with it for there to be any reason to discard the story as pure ‘newspaper talk’. If, the story was true, then this was more than a hand grenade dropped in both David Gill, and Sir Alex Ferguson’s laps - this was pure dynamite. It was an explosion which would rock the very core and foundations of Old Trafford itself.

Before the 2009/10 season had ended, preliminary talks had taken place between Rooney, Paul Stretford, his agent, and David Gill, Manchester United’s CEO, with regards to the signing of a new, and improved contract which would keep Rooney at Old Trafford until he was 30 years of age. Rooney had himself stated that he was more than happy to commit his future to the club and that he could think of no other club for whom he would wish to play for – and off he went to play in England’s ill-fated World Cup debacle in South Africa, where it has to be said, he didn’t perform too well. Whilst attending those World Cup Finals, David Gill, when questioned by journalists about the Rooney contract situation stated that it would all be sorted out in August when the player returned to Old Trafford, and that there were not any problems that would prevent the player from pledging his future to the Club.

As soon as the World Cup was over for England, Rooney had the blessing of Ferguson, and the Club, to jet off to Barbados for an extended holiday, and to miss initial pre-season training, and the Club’s tour to the USA and Mexico. It was whilst he was in Barbados that pictures in the tabloids in Britain showed him out partying in the early hours of the morning, smoking, and generally looking the worst for wear. It was tabloid journalism at its worst. Rooney had just finished a long hard domestic season and had then immediately left for a World Cup campaign that was riddled with problems for the England team – what did they expect him to do whilst he was on holiday – sit around and contemplate his navel?
In the weeks leading up to the start of the new season, the club had been involved in contractual talks with several of their players, including Nemanja Vidic, who, popular opinion would have it, was about to leave Old Trafford. Rooney had returned to Old Trafford after holiday, had done a short pre-season, and then played in the Community Shield victory against Chelsea at Wembley, on August 8th. However, on the morning of that particular game, the News of the World carried a story that Manchester United’s structure for paying player bonuses was about to be scrapped. It reported that David Gill had met with the players and explained the situation to them. Premier League, FA Cup, and Carling Cup bonuses would all be affected by this new restructuring. United’s stance was that the players were now so well paid, that they did not require a huge bonus scheme. A United source was then reported to have told the newspaper;

"The bonuses are up there with the very best in the game, but there is a new financial reality at the club and across the game.”
"The club is placing a greater emphasis to ensure players such as Nemanja Vidic and Wayne Rooney are tied to long-term improved contracts."

To facilitate the Premier League and Sky Television’s programming, United’s opening league fixture of the 2010/11 season against Newcastle United, had been moved to Monday, August 16th. On the opening morning of the 2010/11 season, Saturday, August 14th, Ferguson was in his office at the Carrington training complex when he took a telephone call from David Gill, who was at Old Trafford. What Gill had to say to him, took the wind right out of Ferguson’s sails. He was absolutely dumbfounded on what he was hearing. Gill had explained that he’d met with Rooney, and his agent Paul Stretford, and that the news was that Rooney was not going to sign a new contract and that he had expressed a wish to leave the club. This conversation was kept confidential and neither the press nor the media were given any inkling as to what had transpired.

After United opened the season with a win over Newcastle United in their opening league game, Nemanja Vidic signed a four year extension to his contract so putting to bed rumours of his imminent departure. Rooney missed the game against Fulham at Craven Cottage the following Sunday because he was apparently suffering from a virus. He was back for the game against West Ham United the following weekend where he scored from the penalty spot in a 3-0 win. The following week was an international break and Rooney left Manchester to join up with his England colleagues for their matches against Bulgaria at Wembley on September 3rd and away in Switzerland on September 7th. However, he travelled to London knowing that there was a huge dark cloud hanging over him.
That cloud became a bombshell which exploded not only for him, but also for his wife Colleen, Ferguson, Gill, and Manchester United. On September 5th, revelations in a national Sunday newspaper appeared, which exposed his adultery with a known local prostitute from the Manchester area, and it made allegations that he had paid 1200 pounds for her services on each of his encounters with her. With his young wife expecting their first child, Rooney’s alleged ambivalence to the situation did not sit too well with many Manchester United supporters. For others, they could not have cared less, as for them it was a private matter, as long as it did not interfere with his performances for Manchester United on the field.

For Rooney, even though his attitude was allegedly reported as not what it should have been, his private life was in turmoil. Many rumours abounded about him being turfed out of the family home, and one even gathered credence saying that he took refuge at the home of Ferguson and Lady Cathy. This story was never actually confirmed. If however it did happen, then surely it follows that as well as counseling Rooney about his private life, the subject of him wanting away and not wishing to sign a new contract would also have come up in conversation. Surely it would have been too great an opportunity for Ferguson not to have taken advantage of?

For the game against Everton at Goodison Park on September 11th, Ferguson caught everybody on the hop – press, media, and the fans. He left Rooney out of both the team and the squad which traveled to Liverpool on the morning of the match. Speculation once more was rife about the reason why the United manager had done this. After conceding two goals to Everton in the final minute of a match which United should have won, Ferguson’s explanation was that Rooney was omitted because he did not wish the player to be the subject to the vile abuse which he was certain he would have received from the Everton fans throughout the game. It was plausible, but many suspected that the omission was due to disciplinary reasons.

The remaining September weeks saw Rooney back out on the park again, but it was plain to see that as far as form was concerned, his had dipped below the horizon. He played against Glasgow Rangers in the preliminary round of the Champions League competition at Old Trafford, and then again the following Saturday in a 3-2 victory against arch rivals Liverpool at the same venue. However he picked up a knock on the ankle that had been troubling him all season in that game. He was not involved for the Carling Cup tie at Scunthorpe United, but was ready for the tough league fixture away at the Reebok Stadium against Bolton the following week. Again, midway through the second half of the game he picked up another knock on that same ankle and had to be substituted. Television pictures showed the United physio applying ice packs to the ankle and that injury prevented him travelling to Valencia for another Group match in the Champions League. He also wasn’t fit to play at Sunderland the following weekend. However, he did join up with the England squad for their European qualifier against Montenegro at Wembley the following week.

It was immediately after the disappointing 0-0 draw with Montenegro that the first signs of unrest between Rooney and Ferguson appeared. Asked by journalists immediately after the game if his ankle had caused him problems during the match, Rooney responded;

“No. I’ve had no problems with my ankle all season.”
When asked why Ferguson had consistently stated that he had, Rooney just said;
“I don’t know.”

Speaking to broadcasters a little later he was to say;

“I felt sharp tonight. I've been training for the last two months, I haven't missed a training session. So I've got no problems with my fitness. I felt better. You need games to get your fitness in. I played a few games and felt I was getting sharp, but then missed three or four and then didn't feel as sharp as I thought I would do. Towards the end of last season I was injured. But during the World Cup I trained in every session and had no problems, fitness wise. In this league you need to keep playing because if you're not in full fitness it's difficult to break teams down. Of course I have had runs without scoring in the past. You just have to keep working hard. Once one goes in I'm sure I'll score more. If I have chances and don't score, then I'm disappointed. But there's a lot of games left in the season so I'm sure I can start scoring soon. I train as hard as I can every day and I do extra training which I've done since I was a young boy, so I keep doing my training.”

The journalists sniffed that something in the air was not quite right. What Rooney was saying contradicted everything his manager had been saying for the previous few months. Speculation about the relationship between the pair began to surface, and the fact that Rooney still hadn’t signed a new contract with his club caused more than a few journalists over the next few days to proffer the opinion that he could be on his way out of Old Trafford. There was no inkling that Rooney would not play in United’s next home league fixture against West Bromwich Albion the following Saturday, but when the team was announced an hour before the game started, Rooney had been relegated to the substitute’s bench. Once again, speculation was rife – had Ferguson dropped him? Although he came on for the last 20 minutes of the match, he made little or no impact in a game that had seen United once again squander a winning position.

Talking to journalists after the match Rooney seemed to be more than a little down. The pressures that he had been under for the previous few months, both on and off the field, seemed to have caught up with him and he was feeling it. Apparently, an un-named United insider told the Daily Telegraph;

“Rooney is one of the few players prepared to stand up to Ferguson in the United dressing room. There was always a lot of mutual respect between the pair, but that has disappeared in the last two months and it is clear that the animosity will never go away.”

Rooney himself was to say after the West Bromwich game that he was unsure about whether he would regain his place in the team for the Champions League game against Bursapor the following Wednesday.

“I want to play in all the big games – but I don't know if I will get picked," he said. "Hopefully I will play. But I have missed a few games recently and if you don't play then you don't get that match fitness. At the beginning of the season I was playing and I thought I was getting back to fitness. But it's a lot different when you're not playing.”

Things just did not seem right.

The following Monday morning, 18th October, the newspapers and media were reporting that Rooney was walking away from Old Trafford. It was understood that he had told United that he would not be signing a new contract. The story lacked any identifiable source but the common consensus was that it had been leaked to the press by Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford. What happened after this was that the rumour mill swung into action big time.

The immediate speculation was that Rooney was about to join the arch enemy, Manchester City. If stories were to be believed, City would offer the United man a staggering 300,000 pounds a week salary. The United fans were incandescent with rage and all that they could see in their fury, was that money and greed was the prime mover behind Rooney’s desire to leave Old Trafford. They vented their feelings on numerous internet message boards, in the press, and on various television programmes. There was no doubt that Rooney had become public enemy number one.

On Tuesday, October 19th, Manchester United held a press conference at which Sir Alex Ferguson made a statement regarding the situation. He confirmed that Rooney had been injured, that there had never been a fall out between the two of them, and he confirmed that he’d known since August 14th that the player was not going to sign a new contract. He also confirmed in his statement something that a lot of people missed – and that was that there was NO concrete offer on the table for Rooney, ONLY that there was an offer from the club to negotiate a new contract. Ferguson expressed his disappointment in the situation but did go on to say that players these days lived in the pockets of their agents – a dig at Paul Stretford.

People waited for a response from Rooney, but it never came. It didn’t come until the following afternoon, just two hours before the game against Turkish team Bursapor in the Champions League. Rooney stated that he had met several times with David Gill with regards to his contract situation, the last time being just the week before. Rooney stated that he had asked Gill for assurances about the future squad. Those assurances were not forthcoming and so he had decided that he did not want to sign a new contract.
Many Manchester United supporters thought that Rooney’s statement was pure bunkum, and still thought that money and greed was still the over riding prime mover in the whole sorry mess. However, for this scribe, that was far too easy to say, far too easy to believe. There was just a lot more to this situation than met the eye, and you had to start digging beneath the surface to try and find out where the truth really lay. There were too many conundrums, and nuances, to try and work out to get any real perspective on the true situation. The media and newspapers were full of unsubstantiated stories and claims; full of supposition and speculation; full of innuendo – in fact they were loving it, really loving it. The vast majority of the journalistic corps opined that Rooney was out of Old Trafford, that things had gone too far and that his relationship with both the Club, and Ferguson, was so soured that it was irrevocable. Or – that is what they had hoped! There were so many tentacles to events, that to get a rational view of what was going on, you had to sit down and really look deep into the situation and look at the main parties that were playing the cast of what was becoming a saga.

Firstly Paul Stretford, Rooney’s agent. There is no doubt that he was holding the reins of Rooney’s horse. Stretford is a man who has a somewhat tarnished reputation in football, and some would consider to be an unsavoury character to deal with. Many ex-players who had employed him during their careers were more than uncomplimentary in their remarks about him when asked by the press and media for their opinions. However, notwithstanding the perception of the man, he has been alongside Rooney since he was a young boy, and has had a big say in which direction and paths his career has taken. The pure and simple fact of the matter is that he is employed by Rooney to negotiate the best deal possible for him where contracts are concerned, both professionally in his career as a football player, and commercially in his business interests outside of football. I doubt that anybody can say that he hasn’t been successful in doing that. Yes, he is well reimbursed taking 5% of Rooney’s earnings, and he has already made a huge amount of money from his client during their association.

They are close, and Rooney does confide in him, and yes, as Ferguson had stated about agents generally, he does live in Rooney’s pocket. However, you can’t have it both ways. Stretford was the same fellow that Ferguson got into bed with to negotiate Rooney’s transfer to United from Everton. This was the same agent who had advised Rooney to leave Goodison to further, and better his career, and had also negotiated a massive financial contract for him. As far as Manchester United, Ferguson, and the United fans were concerned, there was pure elation, and they were happy that they saw Stretford as having done his job. The pain that was felt by the fans on the blue half of Merseyside, was completely ignored in Manchester. However, what was heard on Merseyside at that time was now the same accusations that were being heard in Manchester - that money and greed were the principal reasons that drove Rooney’s move. His ambitions and desires as a player, as far as the fans were concerned didn’t come in to it at all.

There is probably little doubt that Stretford manipulated the leaks to the press and media regarding the story that Rooney would not sign another contract for Manchester United. But what were the reasons for him doing so? The groundswell of opinion was that he had received an offer from another club. Supposedly, it was an offer that would raise Rooney’s salary, and earnings, up into the stratosphere financially. Everything, or so it seemed, pointed towards Manchester City. There were wild and unsubstantiated stories flying about that, so as not to be seen to be tapping up a contracted player from another club, and therefore doing something illegal as far as football was concerned, City had used the boxer, Ricky Hatton to do their initial soundings for them. It was also suggested in some stories, that Shay Given, the Manchester City goalkeeper, currently out of favour at Eastlands, was also being offered to United in some kind of cash-plus player exchange deal. None of these stories were ever substantiated in any way, shape or form. Everything was conjecture, speculation, and supposition, fuelled by these stories playing out in the media and in the press, and the fans were quickly becoming more and more irate because of them.

It was all too simple to put these wild stories at the forefront of matters, and to accuse Stretford and Rooney of pure greed. If those stories were true, and Rooney did want to move, surely it would have been a simple case of player and agent just making a statement to the fact that they had been made an offer that they couldn’t really refuse? Stretford knew that at 25 years of age, this next contract was going to be the most important in Rooney’s playing career. It was well known that negotiations had been on-going with Manchester United for at least nine months, and that Rooney had told them as far back as August 14th, that as things stood, after discussions with David Gill, he was not prepared to sign another deal. There was no offer on the table from United, and it seemed as though that after ten weeks, nothing at all was happening or moving, and that both parties had reached an impasse. Was it not plausible that because of this, and because of United’s perceived inertia on the matter, the Rooney stable felt that things needed to be moved along, and moved along fast? Hence, the story was leaked of to the media and press to try and kick start negotiations and to reach a resolve one way or the other.

The second players were the Glazer family, and United’s CEO David Gill. Had they taken their eyes off the ball and allowed a situation to manifest itself that could have been avoided? So much goes on inside Old Trafford these days, and little, if any information, comes out. It is as secretive as the Kremlin used to be in the days of the Cold War. But from the outside looking in, it did look as though where Rooney and his extended contract negotiations were concerned, United had been caught with their trousers down around their ankles. During the summer months there was an air of inevitability from David Gill which supported the opinion that there would be no problems in getting Rooney to sign a new deal, and that the whole situation was being treated matter-of-factly. When the player returned back to Old Trafford after the World Cup and holiday, this turned out to be patently not the case.

Rooney’s contract was due to expire in summer, 2012. If contractual talks were not concluded as early and as satisfactorily as possible, then Manchester United had a huge problem hanging over them. There were only a few courses of action open to them which they could take. The first was to allow his contract to expire and for him to leave Manchester United in 2012, under the terms of the Bosman Ruling. That would mean that United would not receive one penny piece in return. The second option was not really one that they could have ever envisaged, but it was one that they should have been acutely aware of, but had probably not even countered. Under the terms of the Webster Ruling, Rooney could leave Old Trafford in the summer of 2011, a free agent upon reimbursement of one year’s total salary. Again, apart from that year’s salary, under the terms of that ruling, United would receive not another penny. Stretford and Rooney both knew that this was an option open to them and could be used as a strong bargaining tool. The third option which United had was to alert the few clubs that could meet his salary, place Rooney on the transfer list, and sell him in the January 2011 transfer window. The problem with this was that United knew that if this course of action was taken, they were never going to get the fee for him which they would be happy with. In effect, whichever option they could have followed, they were backed into a corner.

There is no doubt that there was dialogue between the Glazer family and David Gill regarding the situation that had arisen since mid-August. But why were they taking so long to resolve things? Obviously Rooney’s disenchantment had been conveyed to them. Maybe the American’s had other things on their minds during this time? Namely the poor year-end financial figures for 2009/10 which showed that despite an increased operating profit of some 100.8 million pounds, the club stilled showed a loss of a staggering 79.6 million pounds and the debt around the club’s neck was still increasing. Whatever it was, it is probable, although this is conjecture, that throughout that ten weeks period when Rooney’s disenchantment was made known to them, and despite Gill’s oft quoted statements to the press that money was available to strengthen the first team, the Glazers steadfastly refused to give Gill the assurances that Rooney was seeking. What had they to lose but only their jewel in the crown?

The third player in the situation was Sir Alex Ferguson. The morning of August 14th must have started brightly for him. It was the dawn of a new football season, the team had been away to the USA on a terrific tour, the pre-season training had gone well, and just a week before his team had comprehensively dispatched Chelsea at Wembley, to win the FA Community Shield. The feeling of well-being around the Carrington training complex must have been high. However, the telephone call from David Gill must have brought a sickening feeling to him, and the call must have puzzled him. Gill must have left the given reasons out during the telephone conversation, but reported them to Ferguson upon his arrival at Carrington to discuss the matter. What were Ferguson’s reactions to what he was told? The simple answer is, that we’ll never really know. What is known is that this was a strange situation for Ferguson and one that he’d never had to deal with before when it concerned senior players. He was always the one who decided when a senior player’s time was up and when their exit from Old Trafford was going to occur. Jim Leighton, Jaap Stam, Paul McGrath, Norman Whiteside, Gabriel Heinze, David Beckham, Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Mark Hughes, Carlos Tévez, all had time called upon their Old Trafford careers by Ferguson, even if they had not wanted to leave. Ferguson was the puppet master, he pulled all the strings. This time however, things were different, he wasn’t calling the tune nor pulling the strings – the rug had been pulled from underneath his feet. It had caught him on the hop. There was no inkling from where he sat, that this was a situation that was ever going to occur. To his way of thinking things like this never happened – only this time it had. The most important question now though was how would he deal with it?

In his statement on MUTV on October 19th, referring to that Saturday morning in August, Ferguson said that he couldn’t understand it, that he was absolutely dumbfounded and shocked, as was David Gill. He then stated that he had a meeting with Rooney and that he reiterated what Gill had been told by Stretford, and that was that he wanted to leave Old Trafford. Ferguson’s response in his own words was;

“I said to him, ‘Just remember one thing: respect this club.’ I don’t want any nonsense from you, respect your club.”

Was that all that was said? We’ll never know. However, surely it is not unreasonable to assume that the conversation went much deeper than this? A manager of Ferguson’s experience would not have let this situation just pass him by. He must have asked what Rooney’s reasons were for wanting away, because here was a player fundamental to any of Ferguson’s future plans for his team, in effect just turning his back, and walking out. What was Ferguson’s reaction to Rooney’s explanation – because Rooney must have given it to him – it would be more than unconvincing to assume that it was not nor that it was not discussed? Did Ferguson confirm what Gill had told Rooney and his agent – that there were no assurances that there would be major re-investment in the team in the near future? If he did, was it unreasonable for Rooney to take the stance that he had?
One thing was for sure - things over the next few weeks were going to get even more trying for Ferguson. The revelations about Rooney’s private life being exposed, Rooney’s own loss of form, the United team’s ability to throw points away in matches which they should have won, all piled more, and more pressure upon him. But one has to ask – why was the situation allowed to lie dormant until it manifested itself some ten weeks later? What was going on at Old Trafford during that time? What the hell were they doing to try and bring about a satisfying conclusion to the situation? Were Ferguson’s hands being tied by the Glazers and were they reluctant to allow him to spend? It would be unthinkable that a manager of Ferguson’s caliber and reputation would allow an impasse like this to stagnate and become impossible to deal with. But then again, nothing in football today is ever surprising. It is a conundrum that has never been explained, and probably one that will remain forever buried inside the walls of Old Trafford.

So now we come to Wayne Rooney – the groundswell of opinion being that he was the villain of the peace. But was he? Look at the situation logically. He was happy at Manchester United before he left for the World Cup, there is no argument about that. The World Cup in South Africa turned out to be a complete nightmare for him as well as for the England team. What didn’t help him was that he knew before he even left England’s shores, that upon his return from the World Cup, the revelations about his private life were more than likely going to explode across the nation’s newspapers. Hardly something that was going to help him in his preparation for what is considered to be the most important tournament in football. Psychologically, it had a big effect upon him.

Immediately after his return from South Africa he and his wife holidayed in Barbados and he was excused early pre-season training and the USA tour. During this time he obviously met with Paul Stretford to discuss how contractual talks were going. At that point things were presumably okay. Despite the rumour, innuendo, and complete lack of evidence, or fact, that has occurred since, it is safe to assume that Stretford had not been made aware of another club’s interest in Rooney. For most clubs, it was unthinkable that Rooney would ever leave Manchester United.

Here was a player, just short of 25 years of age, approaching what is generally acknowledged as the best years in his footballing life. He was playing at the best club in the world as far as he was concerned, was the darling of the fans, and one that was hugely successful. Financially he had a contract that was tremendous, and one that was most certainly about to be improved. To all intents and purposes, United did more than satisfy his needs and ambitions. So whatever could change that outlook? Money - improbable. Both he and Stretford knew that his next contract at United would increase his salary significantly, so you had to start looking a little deeper for the cause of his unrest.

People will say that Rooney is not the brightest bulb in the household, but that isn’t strictly true. As a footballer he knows what he wants, and he has burning ambitions. He is a very poor loser. Before the start of the 2009/10 season began United had allowed two world class players in Ronaldo and Tevez to leave Old Trafford and no replacements had been brought in apart from the free transfer signing of Michael Owen. Although that signing had raised a lot of eyebrows, it wasn’t for the right reasons. Ronaldo and Tevez had been pivotal, alongside Rooney, in the successes of the previous few seasons. As the 2009/10 league season progressed, United suffered many injuries, particularly to defensive players. So much so, that by mid-December they were struggling to get any semblance of an effective back four onto the field. They were having to mix-and-match and it cost them points. In the FA Cup, just after the turn of the year, United were ignominiously dumped out in the 3rd round, at Old Trafford by old enemies Leeds United who were then in the First Division. On a brighter front, as players returned from injury, things started to turn around and Rooney was on fire. His last minute goal against Manchester City in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg, took United to Wembley where they defended their trophy against Aston Villa. Rooney’s headed goal, United’s second goal in that final, kept the trophy at Old Trafford.

He was finding the net regularly and in the European Champions league campaign he was on fire. In the round two tie against AC Milan, he scored twice both in the San Siro in Italy and at Old Trafford in convincing performances that put the Italians to the sword. Things were looking good, but in the quarter final against Bayern in Munich, after putting United in front, he injured his an ankle, and United ended up losing the game 2-1. That was a turning point in his, and United’s season. The Saturday after the game in Munich, Rooney was unavailable to play in must-win game at Old Trafford against Chelsea. Considering his form at that time, it was a loss that United could ill afford, and consequently Chelsea won the match and put their hands on the Premiership title. Ferguson brought him back for the return game against Bayern even though he was nowhere near fully fit. Despite cruising into a 3-0 lead and looking comfortable, United allowed Bayern back into the game by conceding a sloppy goal. Rafael then stupidly got himself sent off, and Rooney took a kick on the injured ankle from van Bommel that effectively put him out of the game. Another goal was conceded and Bayern went through on the away goals rule. The injury put Rooney out of the league game at Blackburn the following Saturday, a fixture that by drawing 0-0, handed the title to Chelsea – a fit Rooney could have made all the difference. His performances and goals had carried United through the season.
United had made some signings during the course of the year, but not the marquee signings that you would associate with a club the size of Manchester United. During the close season of 2010, Ferguson announced that he was happy with the squad and that there was no value in the transfer market. That statement infuriated the majority of United fans and they were not happy. It was clear, and still is clear that this current squad does need major investment – particularly in midfield. Is it not unreasonable, that given the fact that the fans were disgruntled, this is also the reason which caused Rooney’s discontent? United’s performances in this early part of the season would not have helped either.

Ferguson tends to paint a smoke screen over things at Old Trafford these days. It may well be that having the Glazers as owners suits him – he has everything he wants – apart maybe from money! He tells people of his successful youth policy and his eye for spotting potential and bringing players through. But that is simply not true. A close scrutiny of his record in this area reinforces this. Raw potential does not win championships and cups. Signing a raw, untried, unheard of teenager when there were other class, experienced players available that would have strengthened the team, may also have ruffled Rooney’s feathers. Maybe, just maybe, Rooney was seeing the situation for what it is, and can see that if there is not major reinvestment in the team, United are going to struggle when it gets down to the business end of the season, and the seasons that follow. Challenging for the major trophies in the game today is a huge task, especially when you are competing against clubs that have access to unlimited funds. He wants to be part of a successful Manchester United and not one that because of lack of investment, gradually falls from grace. Again, maybe by bringing his discontent with things to the fore, he knew that it would give Ferguson and Gill the ammunition needed to fire at the Glazers to spark the investment needed.

Without doubt, Ferguson knew the situation that both he, and United, was in. United needed Rooney far more than Rooney needed United. When Ferguson was interviewed immediately after the game against Bursopor he was quoted as saying that the Rooney issue would be put to bed the following day. Talks were obviously held between Ferguson, Gill, and the Glazers. It was more than likely spelled out to the Americans just what they were about to lose, and what the effects of that would be - not only on the field, but off it as well in terms of commercial activity and sponsorships. Ferguson can be manipulative, economical with the truth, abrasive, stubborn, fiery, but one thing that he is master of and that is getting what he wants where Manchester United are concerned. His fierce protection of the club is unequivocal, and true to his word, the whole saga was put to bed as he promised. When the talks between all parties were concluded, and it was announced that Rooney had signed a new five year contract, Rooney and Stretford were happy, Ferguson was happy, and we now wait to see what January will bring when the transfer window opens – maybe, just maybe, he will make us as fans happy. Ferguson’s mastery at dealing with situations shone through again.

As fans we all have our own opinions. We are quick to judge, quick to make the call, quick to praise, quick to deride. A lot of the time we make assumptions and decisions without knowing the whole facts, or the bigger picture. The real truth is that the vast majority of United fans would far rather see Rooney wearing United’s shirt and giving his all for their cause, than see him leave with no adequate replacement to take his place. His star is still burning bright, and he has a new star beginning to emerge alongside him in Hernandez, who is the pretender to his crown. Bebratov has functioned much better this season, and it could well be that Rooney will be moved into more of a midfield position, a move that could benefit United greatly. With a major signing or two come January, the squad would be as strong as ever. Bring it on!





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