Wayne Rooney confirmed his desire to leave Manchester United today. Speaking about his intention to leave, the striker said, “I met with David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad.” It was this revelation which led to him to decide against extending his contract.
Despite his intention to depart from Old Trafford, Rooney spoke with great admiration toward Sir Alex Ferguson. In the press conference, Rooney said of Sir Alex: “Despite recent difficulties, I know I will always owe Sir Alex Ferguson a huge debt. He is a great manager and mentor who has helped and supported me from the day he signed me from Everton when I was only 18.”
Any doubt that the striker is destined to leave United should have been nullified by his statements today. However, his reasons for leaving do seem a bit suspect. This is a club that in the past four years has won the Premier League three times, Champions League once, and Carling Cup twice, along with earning the club’s first FIFA Club World Cup title. Last year, the club missed out on the Premier League by a point and made a run to the quarterfinals in Europe. I’m not sure that shows the lack of ambition as he would suggest. There may not have been any big-name signings, but when has this club ever been about that? Ronaldo came to the club as a promising youngster and left as a World Player of the Year. Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra were hardly marque signings, but both are now big-name players. Rooney himself joined the club for a large transfer fee, but he still joined as a promising teenager, not an established star. Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, and Gary Neville came through the academy and consequently cost us nothing. The same can be said of Darren Fletcher, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Jonny Evans, Federico Macheda plus a handful of current and former players.
In fact, it could be argued that big-name, expensive signings have frequently failed at United. Juan Sebastian Veron comes to mind as a perfect example of this. In July 2001, United broke the British transfer record when they bought Veron for £28.1 million. Two years later he left United as a flop. Until this season, many would’ve said the same of Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian striker joined United for a record British transfer fee (which was short lived after City signed Robinho), but failed to live up to expectations is his first two seasons. While he has done a lot to prove his ability and worth this season, there was a portion of United fans who considered him a flop after last season. Big-name signings just isn’t how this club operates. Sir Alex has proven time and time again he can build a title-winning squad by investing in potential and developing these youngsters into stars.
Speaking with reporters after the win against Bursaspor, Sir Alex claimed to be unaware of Rooney’s statements before the match, but said of the doubts of ambition: “Have I won 30 trophies or what?” And frankly, I’m inclined to agree with Sir Alex. He’s had an incredible career and if the ambition was no longer there I don’t think he’d be the manager of United right now. The Glazers may be crippling the club financially, but I doubt Sir Alex would maintain such a commitment to the club and risk his legacy if he didn’t have insurances regarding the continuing pursuit of titles.
There can be little doubt that this saga with Rooney is quickly approaching its conclusion. Sir Alex admitted he has a meeting scheduled with David Gill today and claims that a decision will be made to bring this saga to an end. Sir Alex also voiced his concerns regarding Rooney’s belief that he is more likely to succeed elsewhere: “Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in your own field. It’s a fact. But it never really works out that way.”
Rooney’s statements today also bring up a concern about the Glazer ownership. While there is little doubt regarding the financial predicament the American owners have put United in, I still believe Rooney’s comments today about lack of ability to attract star players is unfounded. Rooney has a public relations team for a reason. These PR specialists are cunning enough to realize that the Glazers are a major controversy surrounding United, and they have thus tried to use it to their advantage. The Glazers may have limited the club’s financial prowess, but I believe Rooney is simply using them as a scapegoat to seek more money. Sir Alex contradicted Rooney’s statements claiming, “If I told you how many agents phoned me in a week, saying a player would love to play for us, and I am not just talking about run-of-the-mill players, it would amaze you.”
There is little doubt that the loss of Rooney will be great, but this is a club that has consistently maintained success despite losing star players. Beckham left. Van Nistelrooy left. Ronaldo left. But United continued to win trophies even after their departures. I have no doubt that Sir Alex is capable of replacing Rooney as well. With Rooney’s intentions now clear, I hope that we will never again see him in a United shirt. He does not deserve to wear it; the badge has too much history to be tainted by a mercenary. He’s not even worthy of playing with the reserves, as we have youngsters who are in need of minutes and desperate to play in the first team. Sir Alex must now begin giving young strikers like Federico Macheda and Javier Hernandez more chances to develop and prove that they are worthy successors to Rooney.
Wayne Rooney’s future is clear; he is heading to the Old Trafford exit. And while some may believe United’s future is in doubt, I’m not one of them. In Sir Alex we have a proven world-class manager capable of leading this club through the darkest of times. Some may be filled with doubt, but I am confident that there is still a great deal of success in our future.
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