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Rooney saga leaves sour taste

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Phil McNulty | 13:21 UK time, Friday, 22 October 2010

Just about the same time as an angry balaclava-clad mob descended on Wayne Rooney's Prestbury mansion, Manchester United were delivering a clue that their journey into the Cheshire countryside may have been wasted after all.

The terms and timeline of Rooney's Old Trafford departure were expected to be confirmed after talks on Thursday between United chief executive David Gill, manager Sir Alex Ferguson and the player's representative Paul Stretford.

Surely there could be no pulling back from the brink after claims and counter-claims from Rooney and Ferguson as it was revealed United's finest player wished to leave, damning United with a lack of ambition as he went?

And yet, after Ferguson insisted the saga would be "put to bed", there was a holding statement with an unmistakeable tone of conciliation that urged patience from supporters.

The door was indeed open, as Ferguson had always said, and on Friday lunchtime Rooney strode through it armed with a new five-year contract to conclude one of the most unlikely about turns in recent sporting history.

Sport has an endless capacity to surprise, but events at Manchester United this week have been head-spinning even by football's standards.

And even as Ferguson and Rooney smiled alongside each other on Friday, there is still plenty of unfinished business in this very public and damaging saga.

Rooney was, to all intents and purposes, an ex-Manchester United player after taking the extraordinary step of challenging Ferguson's word and authority over a recent ankle injury, before condemning the club's lack of ambition and casting doubts on the quality of his team-mates as he demanded to quit the club.

If Rooney was producing a check-list of all the routes out of Old Trafford, he covered them all. He said and did enough to alienate his manager, team-mates and most certainly those United fans who will never believe they are second best.

So it takes a mammoth leap of the imagination to presume that Rooney's world will now resemble a millpond.

The emotions stirred by his desire to leave, and the possibility of Manchester City being his next destination, were clear from the abusive banners at Old Trafford during the Champions League game against Bursaspor on Wednesday.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Wayne Rooney following the signing of the new contract

Police being called to disperse the sinister figures outside his home and his face on a poster outside a Manchester store being daubed with the slogan "Join City And You're Dead", simply underscored the ill-feeling Rooney had created against himself.

Now peace has been declared, what are we left with?

Given Rooney's complaints that Gill had failed to give him assurances about United's future squad, it has to be presumed that he has been handed guarantees by the board and the Glazers before signing his contract.

This will not, however, dispel the cynicism from many that this whole episode has simply been leading towards yesterday's endgame - Rooney receiving a lengthy and vastly-improved contract negotiated by the ever-present Stretford.

For Ferguson, it is a victory in that he keeps his most-prized player, and Rooney's decision to stay confirms the manager's often-stated conviction that United can compete where and when it matters in the transfer market. Just not yet.

If United fail to bring in the marquee stars Rooney appears to be demanding, then presumably he will be back banging on the manager's door asking to leave once more - unless his hurt is eased sufficiently by his new contract.

And yet the image of Ferguson as the manager who rules over all, who deals ruthlessly with any insubordination and laughs in the face of any attempt at player power, has taken a hit.

Ferguson gave a virtuoso performance at a media conference at Old Trafford on Tuesday, sadness in his eyes and disbelief on his face as he revealed Rooney "wanted away".

But he kept the door ajar, because this time he knew the player was too good, and the rest of his squad not good enough, to simply kick him out.

In other times a player who indulged in such bare-faced contradiction of Ferguson would have been yesterday's news - and yet it appears Rooney is of such importance to United that he is above that law.

Will Rooney now feel emboldened to challenge Ferguson again in the future should he feel the need? He did it this time and his punishment was a pay-rise and guarantees that United's squad will be improved to meet his requirements.

Others might say Ferguson has won the day by hanging Rooney out to dry before he was backed into a corner to sign his new contract. Maybe, but how many other players would have been indulged in similar fashion by Ferguson?

Will other players at Old Trafford note this treatment? You suspect they will.

As for Rooney, I was convinced he had burned his bridges with his cold assessment of United's failure to match his ambitions and a badly-coded condemnation of his current team-mates.

He seemed assured about his ability to challenge for all the top prizes, but his statement effectively said he was not so sure about the rest of United's squad.

Rooney's words will have undoubtedly angered some team-mates, so now he must go about regaining their trust and loyalty. How would Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville have reacted to the young upstart telling the world he did not think their beloved club was quite up to the mark any more?

Last, and by no means least, Rooney's bond with United's fans - unbreakable until a couple of weeks ago - needs repair on an industrial scale.

Football support can be fickle, but the vitriol poured on Rooney in recent days must leave a residue of mistrust and betrayal. It may even leave a permanent scar. Any dip in form will see these doubts about Rooney resurface among Old Trafford's loyal following.

Rooney can produce performances to make Manchester United's fans forgive, but there will be many who will never forget and for this he only has himself to blame.

This is why the facade of satisfaction at Manchester United failed to disguise the rebuilding of a reputation that Rooney must embark upon.

Fortunately for Rooney, he can be in command of that renewal with his greatest talent - namely his ability to win football matches for Manchester United.

Rooney must produce his biggest performances on the field to make good the damage this turbulent week in the history of Manchester United has caused off it.

You can follow me at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Wayne Rooney's current Manchester United career stats suggest he has the potential to reach the very top - to become the club's highest ever goalscorer. That's back on now - but acclaim for his future achievements may be a little slow in coming. There are lots of bridges to be re-built.

  • Comment number 2.

    Are you gutted Phil?

  • Comment number 3.

    The one factor that continues to baffle is the timing of all this. If he 'wanted away' mid-August, then was surely the time to 'get rid'. No reason why either side would want this public knowledge in October with 2 months until the next transfer window.

    As a Man U fan the one positive (having Rooney around the place for the next few months no matter how well he plays, is not one due to the unrest caused!) must be that the pressure is now on for the owners to bring in a couple of top-level players in the next 12 months. Without that we won't challenge for honours (he was right on that account) and Rooney will be off in the summer of 2012 (probably at the same time as SAF).

  • Comment number 4.

    its all a sad indictment of how football is now run, money, money, glory and self publicity. Pele must be shaking his head in disbelief

  • Comment number 5.

    Why the silence on Rooney's new wages? I'm certain they are what actually convinced him to stay.

  • Comment number 6.

    Nice article phil........its left to rooney to show what is decision all about by playing on the field and doing what we all know is capable of doing.....

  • Comment number 7.

    What next?
    Fergie is definitely shrewd and cunning to keep Rooney.Or was it the fans' pressure that kept him?
    What next?

  • Comment number 8.

    SAF's position and authority taken a hit? Really? If anything he's stronger from this. Firstly he covered his tracks to prevent him being blamed for Rooney's departure like he was for Tevez and has got exactly what he wanted. SAF's comments on players and their agents obviously points to the fact that Rooney was in fact being manipulated by his agent in an attempt to get as much money as possible from the club. I doubt will see a huge amount of transfer activity for a little while to come. If Rooney wanted to leave that badly he would have done. Instead I think it was an ploy by his agent to get more money which has backfired completely, leaving SAF as the winner, and Rooney and Stretford badly bruised. Even if it did require assurances from the owners that money would be available for transfers, SAF still wins, though I have my doubts that he would operate under any financial restrictions from up high anyway. SAF shows his genius.

  • Comment number 9.

    Rooney will leave anyway, it just mean with him signing a new contract Utd will get £50 million from when he decides to go. I don't know what all the fuss is about anyway, why stay at 1 club for the majority of your career when you can go to the likes of Madrid, Barcelona or the Milans.

    When he looks back at his career when he is old surely he will have better memories having the experiences of playing abroad on top of his Man Utd experiences. Look at Beckham having played for Madrid and Milan, I reckon he will look back and have had a more memorable career than Giggs who has just stayed at Utd.

  • Comment number 10.

    As a United fan i am happy that rooney will be staying with us, but I can't help but feel let down by the whole saga of what has happened in the past week.

    This will surly have knock on effects in future contract negotiations.

  • Comment number 11.

    This is what I said Rooney had to do. It was by far the most difficult decision to back track and he did it.

    Now he just needs to get counselling and get rid of his agent and he will be on course to make history.

  • Comment number 12.

    So many questions still. Has Rooney, with the possibility of being permanently damaged no matter who he plays for, signed a long contract to ensure United get full market value when he eventually leaves? This would be a sort of 'sorry' for this behaviour over the last week.

    Did Paul Stretford play a badly judged game of brinkmanship, and lost spectatularly, both in terms of reputation and the comparative financial rewards had Rooney gone elsewhere?

    Did Fergie play an absolute blinder by opening up as never before, galvanizing the managers union and ensuring Rooney, agents and player power would be condemned as never before.

    Has Rooney been given cast iron assurances? If so, how long does Fergie have left and will Bale, Sneijder and Torres be coming in the next year?

    A sour taste is left, the Glazers have not lost a prize asset cheaply, Fergie keeps his man and the fans will come around as soon as the goals come.

  • Comment number 13.

    Guess It could have been a big block buster movie directed by Fergie, and the world's media and us Manutd Supporters were transfixed!!! As some1 said, the papers sold well, websites got a lot of hits, sports channels a lot of viewers!!!
    I am glad Wayne decided to stay!! all in all if it was a conspiracy by Fergie to get something out of the Glazers, I hope we get the results in January!! I would love to have Torres and Kaka as the marque signings come here.. Now that would be the best Forward lineup in the world by a long shot!!!

    Glory Glory to Utd??!!

  • Comment number 14.

    Not sure what to make of all this now. There's clearly more to this story than meets the eye. Was it all a stunt to convince the supporters that the Glazers aren't bleeding the club dry? Will United sell him for 50 million in the summer, and this is all a deal just to get proper value in the transfer market? (and if so, what's in that for Rooney, when he could have cooled his heels for a few months and left anyway?). Was this all about money, or is there some truth to the largely dismissed notion that Rooney was demanding better investment in new players? There are still questions to be answered here - something about this story doesn't add up.....

  • Comment number 15.

    You said his bond with the fans was unbreakable. Well that's not the case now is it. I think it is now broken, so that was not true was it ?
    Fans opinions are a moveable feast and as such almost worthless.
    This unhappy young man has swung out at the only club that could adequately see him through the turmoil he has cast upon himself.
    Look, this is a fact. The kid can only play football. He can kick a ball. Big deal. Why expect more of him than he can give?
    Much the same as the currently sad and pathetic Gazza.

  • Comment number 16.

    Lets get real here, the whole thing will be forgotten about once he knocks in a few goals... As for Giggs, Scholes. Ferdinand has come out saying he knew Rooney would stay..They aint gonna be that bothered.

    As a united fan i would say that the current squad does look tired - particularly in midfield... Rooney has a point here..

  • Comment number 17.

    "Rooney's decision to stay confirms the manager's often-stated conviction that United can compete where and when it matters in the transfer market. Just not yet."

    No it doesn't.

    United don't have the finance to purchase star players.

    An increase of around £50,000 a week to Rooney will be offset by all the shirt sales given United fans had burned their Rooney shirts before his U-turn.

  • Comment number 18.

    Glad that this saga is finished and we can focus on football again, although undoubtedly the spotlight will be on Rooney even more. First of all he needs to start delivering on the pitch again. People have been vehemently defending him despite months of very poor form but now that his own commitment to United has been made questionable, to say the least, the tone is sure to change. I'll forgive him if he starts playing well again and shows on the pitch he gives 100% for United, although for many his reputation is permanently tarnished.

  • Comment number 19.

    Its the EPL Soap Opera..

    Lots of egg on faces..

    Superb..

  • Comment number 20.

    I think most journalists, inclduing you, are too quick (& too hungry for an kind of news) to really think before writing anything. I just feel Man United have played everyone along and they're the only winners at the end of the day. Full publicity all week, kept their player and engaged their fans, who will probably be very vocal from now on. The main losers are the media muppits who followed every word like a hungry pack of dogs. I'm glad I never even followed the story. I like football, I do not like dramas.

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm not surprised that the whole thing has left a 'sour taste'. That taste will be humble pie, Phil.

    The 'endgame' has made your last blog look a little bit silly, hasn't it?

  • Comment number 22.

    Sounding a little bitter Phil, think you've exaggerated a little regarding rebuilding his bridges. 110%, a few goals towards winning some games and all will be forgotten in my opinion.

  • Comment number 23.

    not sure whether this is just a holding deal till united name their price in the summer, or it is a sign that united do have plans to deal significantly in the transfer market. either is fine by me. still can't decide whether i am pleased or not. want to see what's next i think.

  • Comment number 24.

    All you media guys are scared stiff of Ferguson. Do you not see that this was yet another ploy to deflect the fact that Man U is falling behind Chelsea so badly. Rooney was the scapegoat. Rooney can't bargain on his contract at the moment. His value has fallen badly with a poor World Cup and poor form since March. He is in a weak position to bargain anything.
    I am sure there never was a new contract. Its Alex's way of playing mind games over all of us who are taking in by these stupid stories.
    Look at your blog this morning - I predicted all would settled soon.
    Rooney needs to bang in some more goals for club and country before anybody would pay any serious money that would a sale by Man U

  • Comment number 25.

    Everybody needs to get over this instantly. What's the point of clinging on to angst etc. Hardly productive is it? Yeah people feel hurt etc, but they can easily feel un-hurt. Try it, you might like it.

  • Comment number 26.

    I understand the BBC have an agreed with government to cut cost.

    They should start by getting rid of Phil McNulty. This guy is a joke.

  • Comment number 27.

    Probably got offered another 50k a week. Hard life playing football for just 90k a week isnt it?

    Disgraceful behaviour by the player and his "representatives" i.e. money grabbing **********!

    I'm interested to know where the glazers will find the money to "assure" him of the future squads, but hands off Bale, Modric, Hudd and VdV. Our players. Don't go tapping them up fergie.

  • Comment number 28.

    What a ridiculous charade.

    The ending to the saga is highly predictable: Rooney has ended up with even more obscene wages. Was anyone ever in doubt that this was his sole motive? His statement questioning United's ambition was only ever a smokescreen to fool the most naive of people.

    The question now is just how fickle United fans will prove, after Rooney's disgraceful behaviour these past few days.

  • Comment number 29.

    He'll probably be off within in the next two summers and i wouldn't be upset if that was the case, as it would mean more money as he would have longer on his contract left.

    Ronaldo was off in 2009, after signing a long term contract in 2007.

    'sign a contract....if your still not happy after a season or two, we'll let you go without much fuss but in a way that we get most the money we can in terms of transfer fee for you'

  • Comment number 30.

    Just baffling....

    Obv wish this whole saga had not been conducted in public but Roo will def have to understand why fans/players may take awhile to forgive him.

    The trash that showed up at his door last night are not representative of most Utd fans and no matter whether he had decided to stay or go noboday should have to put up with that level of imtimidation!

    Nothing in football surprises me anymore but I do think Roo has received and acted on bad advice if this whole saga was all about the money. Who knows? Guess we will have to wait until a new release of an auto bio is published!!!

    Anyway, time for the team to come together an get our FIRST away win of the season at Stoke on Sun! :)

  • Comment number 31.

    As a Man U fan I think we should all get over this as quickly as possible. It won't do anybody any good getting on his back. Lets not be drama queens and forget this episode for the good of everyone.

  • Comment number 32.

    As a life-long Man U fan I am glad he has signed a new deal- ok, it's been handled abysmally and been played out in view of the world's media- it will take time to build bridges again.- We know this.

    At the end of the day as a Man U fan you have to happy that he is simply still here- we can debate the way he/his people went about it all night and we will not come to any sensible conclusions.

    For us to even think about challenging for the title/trophies he needs to be at the club- Simple as.

  • Comment number 33.

    I wonder if this is partly to blame for his poor form since coming back from the World Cup? Since this is no longer hanging around his neck, maybe he can rediscover last season's form. If he does, that'll be all the bridges rebuilt with the fans I think.

    What's the odds on a Rooney hat-trick in the Derby??!!

  • Comment number 34.

    When it first broke I was 99% certain it was a negotiating ploy to get more money. The timing of it when no other side could sign him till January just pointed in that direction. Must admit I thought I was wrong with Ferguson's statement and Rooney's which there seemed no way back from but obviously money talks.

    I'm sure he always did want to play for Man Utd (or one of the other top clubs) but fans will do well to remember that when a player kisses a badge they are being paid to do so. I hope he regains his form quickly so the fans can forgive him quickly.

  • Comment number 35.

    Have Rooney and Ferguson been playing the biggest mind-game of all time on the clubs who would dearly love to see Rooney playing for them? Highly unlikely.

    What I suspect happened is that the "agent", Paul Stretford, sensed a chance to grab another massive paycheque by persuading Rooney to move elsewhere. And that Rooney wasn't smart enough or strong enough to counter that, so went along with it. Stretford would have got a big fat wedge of cash from the inevitable signing-on fees and new commissions, and Rooney would be stuck somewhere he possibly didn't really want to be in the first place.

    This week has brought up something that desperately needs to be done in the modern game - namely removing power from the agents who hold clubs and players to ransom for nothing more than a big payday.

    If FIFA can't look after their own agent rules, then it's time for a change. Get rid of player agents as they are, and replace them with club agents. All the players at a club deal with that agent, who is approved and employed by their club, when it comes to contracts and transfers. The agent earns a good wage with a few bonuses, the players get a better deal in not having to pay out for the agents, and the game regains control of player demands.

    Whilst we have mercenary agents like Stretford, the game will never shake off that feeling of "player power". But player power is the wrong term. The term should be agent power. And it has to stop.

  • Comment number 36.

    this story never made sense from the beginning. why would ferguson suddenly break this news out of the blue, when apparently rooney had told them of his interest in leaving back in august? for the past two days this has been conveniently skipped over by all and sundry, media included. everyone was so quick to start shouting about betrayal, greed, etc.

    i dont usually criticise you mr. mcnulty, and find it disrespectful and annoying when others do in rude obnoxious fashion. after all, opinion peices are there to debate over, and we can all make our cases if we like, by signing in and doing so.

    this time, however...i was disappointed in the mob-mentality, bandwagon leading vitriol from everyone at the bbc, barring one other blogger who at least asked a few pertinent questions and appeared relatively thoughtful.

    im not even a manu supporter, and think rooneys form hasnt commanded all these starts, both in the manu squad and more particularly, with england. i thought a bit of subbing might produce some hunger in his game, and spark a return to form. just my opinion, and seemingly out of sync with the majority.

    in any case, i think fergie's timing is bizarre and suspect; rooneys knee-jerk response unfortunate and naively phrased. i disagree that he criticised his teammates as is parroted hither and yon. i think he was attempting to address the fact that backbone senior players would be retiring before his new contract would be up, the clubs finances are scary at best, the ownership is questionable with regards to stability, and ferguson himself may retire before none-too-long. add in rooney's personal problems this year and there was certainly other, rather obvious, aspects to his motivation on offer for consideration.

    rooney doesnt often do himself many favors. but this whole 'saga' has been ridiculously covered by bbc's sports writers. its created mythologies, enflamed the masses, and failed to be even remotely thoughtful about the story at all. the standards of journalism have been debased this week at the bbc.

  • Comment number 37.

    We’ve all been down this road before via Cristiano Ronaldo. He wanted to leave as we all knew but then signed a new contract just to boost up his value to Man Utd. The same thing will happen here. Rooney will be gone next year and Utd will pocket around £50m.

    Who’s going to complain? We all know he can be sold at any time and everyone, including Rooney and agent walks away with big money that is not available if he leaves now.

  • Comment number 38.

    You seem dissapointed that WR resigned.

    Why do I get the feeling that we have been served the greatest off the pitch football show orchestrated by ManUtd et al?

    Still, ManUtd now can still keep up the illusion that it's going to go places by holding on to it's nr. 1 marketing asset. Too bad he's not been of first 11 quality for over year now.

  • Comment number 39.

    This whole sorry story is a sad indictment of how pathetic soccer players and soccer fans, not to say modern society, actually are.

  • Comment number 40.

    Mr McNulty, funny how you've forgotten that your beloved Steven Gerard was going to leave Liverpool only for him to do an equaly amazing U turn !

  • Comment number 41.

    As angry as we can be at Rooney, it does take immense guts for him to turn around and face the management, team-mates and fans rather than runaway. Yes, he may get paid shed loads but he knows he has to prove himself again. A challenge greater for him than him moving to another new club (probably gettin paid more elsewhere as well!). He is now, effectively, a new signing for Man Utd, an expensive one, and ALL football followers should forget the horrendous things he has said and simply judge him now on how he responds. This pressure on him to rebuild bridges, could show us how great a player he is and finally put to bed any doubt about him as a footballer OR he may not respond to this added pressure and he may crumble. Time will tell. Ferguson has a history of saying bye-bye to players quickly but remember, he didn't get rid of Cantona when he kung-foo kicked a fan and he didn't get rid of Ferdinand when he got banned for missing a drugs test. I believe it is because he saw leaders in these players that could form a backbone for his squads and I believe it is this that he sees in Rooney and what he used to convince Rooney. Good luck to him, I hope he is getting paid enough to buy every football fanatic a sweet to get rid of this sour taste!

  • Comment number 42.

    Another thing - I hope I don't see Rooney kissing the badge for at least the next two years.

  • Comment number 43.

    It won't take United supporters long to forgive Rooney, I was there on Tuesday and while there was a general feeling of contempt for Rooney this never manifested itself in any anti-Rooney chanting. The signs were held up by a tiny minority, no doubt the same ones who traveled to Rooney's house last night. Rooney will commit himself fully as he always does, and will re find his form.

    United might actually come out of this process better off if it means the Glazers now realize they can't simply keep on making vague promises about spending money.

    None of this means I forgive Rooney, his actions both on and off the field over the past few months have been nothing short of appalling, however football fans are fickle when it comes to success and if United finish the season with the League or European Cup and perhaps a few changes to the team all will be forgotten.

  • Comment number 44.

    Phil you missed the point yet again. Stretford was clearly playing brinksmanship too long with his contract negotiations and the club decided there was imminent danger of losing him for less than he was worth so Ferguson made his statement public so that his agent was forced to respond quickly. Leave or stay. In making his statement about keeping the team competitive he was trying to avoid being branded a mercenary but ended up tying his hands from making more money.

    Faced with the stark choice of leaving or going of course you're going to stay. What's really an option? This is a player who knows he is central to Ferguson's plans and as such will get game time and he has been given assertions (I would be interested to know what these are as it goes) that we will be competitive which means staying in the champions league.

    The "mob" were the most sheepish mob I have seen despite the poster - and its not like he never got threats from the Everton faithful (you remember, your mob). Its unlikely he would have been influenced by their action.

    And Ferguson would probably like to extend his hand in thanking the media for their role in getting what he wanted. Cheers.

  • Comment number 45.

    Luckily for the much over-hyped Rooney he plays on a good premiership team with only a few other competitors, Chelsea, Arsenal and City. A couple of good performances, by English standards, and the United fans will soon forget.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    Sir Alex Ferguson's swansong masterstroke. Expensive contract at £10 m ? Utilise him for two years and see what he can produce ? Sell him for £200 million with three years left on his contract. Rooney will now learn who the Boss is, Rooney will be made to be hungry again and very respectful and how many games on the bench will that process involve ? Hell hath no fury like a Fergie scorned, watch out !

  • Comment number 48.

    Absolutely, completely, totally no surprise whatsoever. Simply an over-the-top ploy by Stretford to get the biggest slice of pie for his client. Just gutted Everton won't be getting a sell-on fee for a little while yet.

  • Comment number 49.

    How obvious is this situation

    Rooney, guided by Paul Stretford has known he can double his wages elsewhere. The Man Utd board offered him a deal, he thought he could get more out of the club.

    How does he do this, says he wants to leave in August. The deal remains unsigned.

    The board don't improve their offer, reality sets in. SAF plays the media like a dream. I'll confirm Wayne is intent on going, this will make the borad (who he deosn't have a great relationship with) stump up more cash.

    Of course they will stump up the cash when faced with the reality he could leave, and take with him the millions in revenue through shirt sales and image rights he carries.

    Do this in a public forum, build media interest and that will make the board take notice.

    Oh and while you're at it Wayne, why don't you say you haven't had a an ankle injury to make it look like we really have fallen out.

    Played out like a dream. mission accomplished. SAF keeps his player, Rooney gets his deal and the media get their story. Who loses out? The man utd fans who believed he actually would question the ambitions of a club who have dominated Englsih football for nearly 20 years

  • Comment number 50.

    Never in the field of human journalism has so much been written about so little.

  • Comment number 51.

    Lots of unanswered questions remain. This could all be a conspiracy between Ferguson and Rooney to apply pressure on Gill/the Glazers, and therefore ensure better funding for the team. This is a problem when large debts are leveraged against a football club in an economic crisis.

  • Comment number 52.

    phil...i wis sir used rooney for an oda two yrs and give him out to madrid..........

  • Comment number 53.

    Fickle, fickle United fans...

  • Comment number 54.

    Pure panto, absolutely riveting five days of twists and turns that knotted every heart and mind from supporters to the press and I am glad his made the right choice for his career to stay and keep faith with the gaffer.

    There's a god after all and we all know his name :)

  • Comment number 55.

    Sorry Phil, your 2nd poor article in a row. Using experience to interpret events is one thing; claiming to know what others are thinking better then them is another.

    I am disappointed the matter was resolved so quickly, for two reasons. First I had planned to post my opinion that bridges had NOT been burnt and that I believed Rooney would be staying. Too late!

    Second, the whole saga was keeping the interminable Liverpool debate off the headlines/boards.

    Please Phil, restore your reputation by finding another non-'Pool story to intrigue us!

  • Comment number 56.

    Oh Phil! what a waste of time that blog was - basically you have gone from praising Ferguson to no end, and rightly building him up as - to quote Rooney - a "genius" after his press conference in the week. To condemning him as having lost his authority etc etc. What a complete nonsense!
    Can I just point out, that Rooney never actually criticised his team-mates - he only questioned the clubs ambition - ie. IF Utd needed to, would the owners/board bring in the players needed? Is the clubs finanacial future secure? The way the press have interpreted these comments is typical sensationalism!

    I would really love it, if in the next few days, the details of his contract came out, and it was clear he wasnt angling for more money! That would really shut all the nay-sayers up!.

    Also, you say that United fans will have a sour taste in the mouth, when this isnt correct - it would only be the case if he has got a huge contract to keep him, which would hint towards greed, rather than him having the good of the club at heart. However, if he has "won" and the club have comitted to bringing in players etc etc, then actually, I think you'll find, Rooney will be even more of a fans hero than before, as it is something the fans have been calling for!!

  • Comment number 57.

    "And yet the image of Ferguson as the manager who rules over all, who deals ruthlessly with any insubordination and laughs in the face of any attempt at player power, has taken a hit."

    This is an image you bought into, not most United fans. He is a lot cleverer than that. Your naivete and your collective eagerness as journalists to stereotype Ferguson's management style has allowed you to miss it. But that's your problem and the problem of the football media in England. Ferguson has just used it to his advantage. You and your ilk have been played like a kipper and played royally.

    That said I do agree he may have to face a bit of ribbing from his team-mates but most will understand the comings and goings of the contract negotiation merrygoround and the role of the media in it.

  • Comment number 58.

    phil, weren't you saying that there was no way rooney could play for united again?
    lets be honest, you get it wrong quite often, but this is because you jump the gun.should have waited until the talks had finished.one of the turning points here was actually getting rooney and his agent to the negotiation tables.

  • Comment number 59.

    Man U appear to be another team in decline,relying on great but 'old' talent and those recovering? from injuries that will never be righted. Rooney is underperforming as is the new blood who are just not up to par. Losing a true world class player in Ronaldo was certainly more critical to Man U than the loss of any other member of the team and it just cannot be remedied. The buying of a couple of players in the January transfer window will be no more than a quick fix. It would be my guess that SAF will be considering retirement at the end of the season and keeping Rooney on board will be his parting gift to the club.

  • Comment number 60.

    Good article as always, but I wonder whether Ferguson's authority over his players is really in question? Seems to me that Sir Alex would like some more transfer money as well, if letting Rooney do his little dance is enough to scare David Gill and the owners to supply that then everyone wins.

  • Comment number 61.

    Just reading back through Rooney's statement, and Fergie's Press Conference, I think the majority of what has happened over the last week was interpretation and exaggeration from the media.

    Rooney said that he hadn't signed a new contract because he had not had assurances from the board about their ambition - at not one point did he say "I'm off, bye".

    Ferguson was upset that Rooney had not signed a contract to date, and even more upset over the fact that Rooney said the club lacked ambition.

    From what I can see, everything in between has been stoked and speculated by the press. And now Mr McNulty has to write ANOTHER back track blog to try and off set the hastily written one from earlier.

    Good work again!

  • Comment number 62.

    What are you all talking about?
    The sum total of the last few days at Man U is that nothing has happened.

  • Comment number 63.

    There may be a residue of ill-will after all this is done, but you have to say well played to Rooney and his agent.

    If Man United were taking Rooney for granted, and forgetting that there's a neighbor club willing to pay almost any price to improve their squad, i guess this is the wake up call. If City have done nothing else, they have made the other Manchester club pay attention. United can no longer hold onto the idea that playing for them is all the incentive necessary to sign and keep big names. They now know that a bigger checkbook will also have to be part of their arsenal.

    And in the end it's all about money for Rooney and his people. Any claims they may have had that there were other reasons for Rooney's displeasure are laughable now.

  • Comment number 64.

    I imagine he has got paid a massive amount and that is the reason he is staying.

  • Comment number 65.

    #51 Raihan - if it was I would think it more likely Gill/Ferguson on the Glazers. But I think it helps their cause to let the Glazers worry about repaying the debt and their contribution to the club would be to keep them competitive. Maybe a little elaborate but you never know. You need to be cute to keep your club competitive under these pressures. By rights we will never know until the manager finally ends his association with the club or the Glazers do.

  • Comment number 66.

    Rooney yawn, I hope something news worthy happens soon so we can all get on with our lives.

    ps. Lay off Phil, I can't stand people who assume that they know more about a subject than an actual professional.

  • Comment number 67.

    Well there's a surprise, eh. Hands up all those who didn't see this coming. Now all Roo has to do is start to show up for work every day like the rest of us ordinary working stiffs.

  • Comment number 68.

    What an utter nonsense. Rooney is a very good above average player. It baffles me that such a player could hold a whole club to ransom.

    I think Rooney won't perform that well and SAF will get him back by selling him when he's least expected.

  • Comment number 69.

    #62 - well not exactly true - the media have helped United get Rooney to renew his contract.

  • Comment number 70.

    Post 9.

    Really? Beckham had a better playing career than Giggs just because he went to Madrid and Milan. He won 1 trophy after leaving United..

    As for the actual article. Phil, where in Rooney's original statement did he deliver this damning verdict of the current playing squad you speak of?

    I see this as less of a betrayal than Gerrard yet you belive him to be the golden boy of English football.

    Football, bloody hell



  • Comment number 71.

    I don't particularly blame Rooney for seeking assurances about the club's future. He is holding a trump knowing that he is one of the best players in the world and no club would ever want to lose him (unless they wanted shooting in the foot). If SAF beleived he could do without him - he would have left just like Ince, Kachelskis, Hughes, Stam, Van Nistelrooy, Beckham whose careers and medal collections all dipped once they had left the Old Trafford door. True Tevez and Ronaldo are very good players but they haven't won anything outside of United yet. There is just as much chance one of them returning as Rooney has of leaving now, especially with Messi and co looking like they will still dominate for quite a while yet.

    His contract still had another 20 months in which time SAF, Giggs, Scholes all could have retired. In which case he would have found himself in a Torres position and desperate to get out.

    I just hope the good things to come out of it is that there is a plan to get rid off the debt (which must have been shared with Rooney and his agent) and a guarantee of the likes of Sneijder or other top class players through the door.

  • Comment number 72.

    Everything is staged by Alex. Alex is far better than this. What a waste of brit media time. However no rival managers took the bait, since they've seen so many off the pitch games by Alex. Infact his off the pitch performance is always better than his team's on the pitch performance LOL.

  • Comment number 73.

    I think we've learned that Rooney is as stupid as we all thought. Now it's a question of how stupid his "team-mates" are and the supporters.
    Long-term future for Rooney?
    There isn't one, of course.

  • Comment number 74.

    Rooney makes "shock u-turn"? Are you kidding me? United fall for the oldest trick in the book - am just surprised Fergie let it happen. "No one player is bigger than the Club" he keeps telling us. He should now add, "with the exception of Wayne". If Fergie still had anything about him, Rooney would have followed Beckham/Van Nis/Ronaldo out the door, which is what happend when they started acting like spolit children.
    Rooney just sums up modern day football. Money money money!!!
    Could have been better timed as well Wayne, with the Country on its knees. Not that it will matter to you in the slightest Wayne, but you sure have lost any ounce of respect I had left for you. Rooney = disgrace = modern day football = Premiership. Simple.

  • Comment number 75.

    Pleased with the end outcome of this very surreal saga. Untied keep their star player and SAF's position is made stronger, he's kept his prize asset amoungst critism he was no longer able to hold onto or attract the big players to OT. Rooney will be forgiven by the majority of fans once he nets afew goals, unfortunatly the loyalty aspect isnt really a surprise.. 99% of all modern day footballers are only concerned with one thing.. more money! I do expect United to kick on from here and finally start playing with some conviction.

  • Comment number 76.

    "No one player is bigger than the club"

    ...unless he's called Wayne Rooney and the manager knows that any transfer fee received (if there would have been one) will be used to pay off interest as opposed to buying a replacement.

    "I'm leaving because this club isn't ambitious enough"

    ...scrub that they've offered me more money so i'll stay. It doesn't matter that i've publicly questioned the quality of my team mates as i'm Wayne Rooney and my actions don't have consequences.

  • Comment number 77.

    Well well well I have to say I'm surprised by the U-Turn. I agree with you phil, after Rooney came out with that statement I thought there was no way back.

    Not sure I agree with all the fans saying Fergie has pulled off a blinder - if you ask me the only person who's won out of all this is Rooney himself. I imagine if over the next few season utd don't do much he'll be off to chelsea as Drogba's replacement.

    And to all you utd fans trumpeting the poss. arrivals of Bale and van da vaart etc... surely after his words about loyalty to a club Fergie has seen the error of his ways and will not bother trying to sign players from other clubs because he's so against disloyal people......oh no my mistake, sorry!

  • Comment number 78.

    Oh Phil! what a waste of time that blog was - basically you have gone from praising Ferguson to no end, and rightly building him up as - to quote Rooney - a "genius" after his press conference in the week. To condemning him as having lost his authority etc etc. What a complete nonsense!
    ------------------------------------

    That's exactly what has happened though! Quite simply, this week has proven that Wayne Rooney is bigger than Man Utd sadly.

    Good blog by the way.

  • Comment number 79.

    Personally, I don't think there is anything machiavellian about this. I think that the reaction, rightly or wrongly, to the situation was such that it was easier for all concerned for the status quo to remain.

    Throw in the increased value of Rooney in terms of a potential transfer fee, and I suspect that the cost of any increase in wages in the meantime will be lower than that increased value, and I reckon he'll be sold when the dust settles, probably summer 2012.

  • Comment number 80.

    Heart on sleeve springs to mind PM.
    I'm afraid your sources have left hanging out to dry twice now and it's possible the third could well be round the corner. Has it occured to you that Roony may well be off in the summer anyway but has been persuaded to make sure of a decent pay day for Man U.

  • Comment number 81.

    I think I must be the only one that probably still backs rooney, utd fans, me included have been demanding that we spend some money, yes we have talent in terms of youth...anderson, cleverly, de lait, etc etc etc (ferguson is one of the best at unearthing this anyone that has bad words against these players is just impatient) However we do still need some money spent on the team, would have really liked to see at least one world class midfielder such as snejder, come through old trafford's doors, and they didnt, whether Man utd really are in financial turmoil or ferguson really did believe there was no value in the market its only my concern to the point where i thought we should have signed another world class player, with the squad a little thin in my opinion of top quality experience, rooney has it, ferdinand, vidic, van der sar, evra, fletcher, one or two others, but carrick is not consistent enough, valencia doesnt have huge champions league experience, scholes, giggs cant play every game, berbatov is just a little inconsistent as well. The younger players are all still climbing the ladder. Rooney wanted to see more players to fill the voids, look at chelsea's squad, its aging but the experience is phenominal, we need to shell out some money. Also didnt think that a contract had actually been offered (correct me if im wrong), Thought they said they spoke of offering him a lucrative deal, however nothing was actually drawn up. It takes weeks, months because of the ridiculous clauses, possibly rooney has signed a new deal that was the same as his last? Does that still make him greedy, I understand if he honestly thinks the club was lacking ambition with its minimal transfer activity, because this summer was certainly the way I felt.

  • Comment number 82.

    Reports of the demise of Manchester United were greatly exaggerated.

  • Comment number 83.

    This strikes me as a greedy move by Rooney, perhaps influenced by his agent, to get the best deal possible for himself. He knows he could get twice his previous earnings at City, so he starts playing a game of brinkmanship with his club- give me more or I'm off. Fergie eventually decides it's not worth the risk and coughs up. Worst case scenario is he leaves after a year or two (this is assuming any of his doubts about United are actually serious, which I suspect isn't true), United get a big fat payoff and Rooney's free to go wherever he likes. Everybody wins.

    I have no issue with players earning large sums- they can earn whatever people are willing to pay them. Nor am I concerned about them trying to get the best deal for themselves- it is a natural impulse. What DOES anger me is the way in which he has gone about it- belitting the club he has previously professed life-long loyalty to and claiming the pond is too small for such a big fish as him, and demanding bigger wages because they know they need him. What price loyalty, Wayne? I guess we'll find out if we ever learn how many thousands more a week now you earn now then before...

  • Comment number 84.

    No, no, no. This was not cooked up by the media. Did you not see or hear Ferguson's six minute long statement. Or read the statement written by Rooney's agent (wasn't exactly our Wayne's writing style, was it?).
    Whatever the back story, this was started and stoked by the two main players in this silly little drama. Anyway, speaking as an England fan, I'm struggling to remember Rooney as a fabulous player who looks down on all those around him.
    He has lost that right, if he ever had it

  • Comment number 85.

    No winners here, I think. Ferguson might have got what he wanted in keeping Rooney, and Rooney got his bumper contract, but the only thing that will get Man Utd back to the top is some pretty significant investment, not just hollow promises.

    And let's get one thing straight: Wayne Rooney cares about Wayne Rooney. I'm not even criticising him for that. He's staying for the extra cash. The matter this was supposedly about remains unresolved; Rooney doesn't think his teammates are up to the challenge. I can't see the lesser members of the squad being too happy at being so openly criticised.

  • Comment number 86.

    This Rooney saga was such a farce.

  • Comment number 87.

    Yawn. As a yank, this type of player ransom is all too common in the USA. Players in the top 3 sports - NFL, Baseball, and Basketball, use the media to their advantage to make clubs dance for them. In the USA we have players using social media or press conferences to whine about their circumstances, saying they aren't getting love or respect from their club, waa waa waa. It was a smart, bold move from SAF to nip this in the bud and tie him up for the future, as opposed to letting it drag out and having him walk for little or no compensation.

  • Comment number 88.

    Until Rooney's new contract details are released we will not know who won or wether it was a score draw.

    As we know contracts are pretty worthless in football, but has Fergie secured Man Utd a handsome fee for Rooney, and the ability to dispence with his services when it suits him?.

    I dare say that this saga is not over yet and speculation over the state of their relationship will continue.

    I also wonder if story of "the amazing U turn" is not a cover up to save the blushes of football writers and pundits who have been played a merry tune, pawns in the chess match that was a battle of wills between United and Rooney's agent.

  • Comment number 89.

    What a sorry saga! Kind of wish we could replace all these overpaid Premiership players who think they are bigger than anybody else with players who put the fans first.

  • Comment number 90.

    pure whitehall farce, brian rix couldn't have done better.

  • Comment number 91.

    Well, what about that? Big man Rooney does U-turn and stays at beloved club. For how long?

    What about putting him up for sale?

  • Comment number 92.

    I personally think this all started because Rooney had such a bad world cup and did so because he was exhausted from doing so much work carrying the team last season. When your one of the best at what you do you can revel in this responsibility for a while but it can eventually take its toll, leading to more frequent injuries and stress as was the case with the great Ronaldo (the Brazilian one).I,m sure Rooney is thinking long term and his England career because if he is to have one he is going to need players around him who can step up and take some of the pressure off him.

  • Comment number 93.

    Dip in form?

    Is that even possible right now?

    I strongly suspect the only reason the door was "left open" was because of the timing. United couldn't really sell Rooney in January and find a replacement who wouldn't be cup-tied for the Champions League - likewise, a prospective buyer would likely want to pay less just on that basis alone.

    Now, however, he's on a five-year contract, and if his form doesn't improve enough and/or Ferguson decides he no longer fits at the club, we can sell him next summer and bring in a replacement easily enough - and there's little doubt that the fans would back such a move.

  • Comment number 94.

    never mind phil, you can start writing about liverpools ever present relegation battle that you've been so actively putting off... Im sure you'll have plenty more to write about when torres quits anfield

  • Comment number 95.

    It's an interesting review Phil, and useful as an index of all the places linked to, but given that you got swept along with the hype and started assuming there was no way back from the edge, I'm not sure what degree of new insight you've out forward so far.

    Yesterday lunchtime, I posted on your blog that I wasn't anything like as convinced as most journalists that Rooney was leaving, that Rooney's statement they wouldn't be signing the new contract didn't specify timing and didn't say never, and that several managers - Mourinho, Wenger, Ancellotti, Mancini, and the number increasing - had been quoted saying they expected it to be resolved and Rooney would be styaying there.

    I'm not boasting about being right, as there wasn't any certainty involved in this direction either, but I think there are some sidelong comments that could be made.

    Perhaps those other managers are used to having to contend with this sort of stuff going on beneath the surface all the time.

    Even this morning, Ashley Young has said that he won't be signing a new contract at the moment; yes, a difference is he hasn't criticised the club.

    And there are also rumours that Wesley Sneijder will soon be signing a new deal after having some background matters resolved, after previous rumours he was in rebellion and might become available. I'm sad to hear that, as I think he's the nearest thing there is to a combining the qualities of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, and I reckon United should have been interested in him from years ago.

    So what has pulled United and Rooney back from the edge, and what is the real quality of it; is there renewed mutual strength there now?

    Well, it could be that they all just came to their senses and agreed to support each other's interests a bit better. Maybe they reached an accommodaton that Rooney stays a couple of years more and if he still has lingering doubts he's allowed to go, but at least meanwhile his value has been restored.

    There have been plenty of comments that player power has become too great, and perhaps some were waiting for Rooney to be made an example of a fight back.

    United could have had chances to play real hardball with this. Looking at the vastly dimininished value of the player in the last few days, it might have been tempting to gamble, and say if he's only worth say £10 million right now then why not write that off too?

    United could have pointed out that parties to a contract are supposed to act in mutual self-interest, and that they felt that the player and his agent had damaged that, so they wouldn't be offering a new contract, wouldn't be selling him, and he wouldn't be playing either, or not for United anyway. On another forum I joked that he could go out on loan to QPR or Southamption, to try to reacquire some humility.

    It's unlikely to have been quite as tough, and it would be difficult to even nuance something like that without it sounding like coercion that isn't far from blackmail, and creating resentment to be harboured until the relationship ends.

    So we wait and see. Rooney will be viewed as on trial for the next weeks and months. But if he becomes apparently unenthused or disaffected again, I will come back to speculating on just how things were conducted behind the scenes this week. Is that one of the sour tastes that Phil refers to?

    Have the owners reassured Rooney by promising that there will be some acquisitions? Are Ferguson's pragmatic statements about player values a result of lack of large amounts of cash to spend, and would he be in there splashing it if he could?

    Of course some accuse him of dual standards with such remarks when he has spent heavily in the past, but on the other hand, during the time Rooney has been at United the net spend on players has been much less there than at Chelsea or Real Madrid or Barcelona, and that's still true even discounting the sale of Ronaldo.

    And a mystery remains: Bebe, when van der Vaart was available?

    Oh, and who was the player that Ferguson says he was after in the summer but didn't want to come to this country? Villa? Oezil? Benzema again?

  • Comment number 96.

    SpeedyGun wrote ..
    "I like football, I do not like dramas."

    Que?
    Football IS drama.
    Full on.

  • Comment number 97.

    Could also have been Wayne n Manutd's strategy to get the media off his personal charade and escapades!!
    Whichever way you look at it, something critical has been left untold to make this one of the famous mystery "discussions" of recent times!!
    I would be interested to know if the new contract has a buyout clause and/or a % of the price for rooney if he is sold.

  • Comment number 98.

    Rooney out for three matches with an ankle injury,
    "oh,no,im not"oh yes you are,"oh no im not"
    The panto season has started early this season.

  • Comment number 99.

    @53 who said "fickle, fickle United fans" - we know you only said that to get a reaction, but I'll give you one anyway: I know a Spurs fans who since the World Cup has gone on and on about how poor Rooney is, how overrated he is, and so on. Then in the middle of this week, Harry Redknapp floats the cheeky idea that Spurs might try to sign Rooney (hysterical, of course). All of a sudden, this Spurs fan is going on about how Rooney could be the missing piece of the Spurs jigsaw, turn you into real title contenders, Harry is the perfect manager to get him back on track, and so on. Now, of course, Rooney is a greedy mercenary again. So yes, United fans are fickle, as are all football fans (and players, and owners, and managers, and journalists). Why? Because football is all about 2 things - money and emotions. Bottom line - people are fickle when it comes to money and emotions. Sad but true. It's the same reason why people quit jobs and have affairs and get divorced and so on and so on. People are fickle when it comes to just about everything - except, maybe, food. I'll never stop eating bacon and eggs, no matter what.

  • Comment number 100.

    Who didnt see this coming, if you didnt then please go back to primary school. My 6 year old son said "Daddy isnt Wayne Rooney just trying to get more money off the club. These so called LOYAL players make me physically sick and should be taught a lesson. They are not bigger than the club and have the audacity to hold a club as big as Utd ransom and to basically call the trumps over a Manager like SAF. Surprised SAF kept him as he is a no nonsense Manager, which Van Nistelroy would no doubt tell you. Hope the players turn their backs on Shrek as he has put the fans through hell, as it would not have been easy to replace him (current financial climate) but then he knew that. As a Liverpool fan i would rather see the bigger players booted out of Anfield and suffer the consequences than seeing these spoilt little brats get their own way.

 

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