Wayne Rooney: a regrettable situation for club and player

Author: Herzog’s Child

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On October 20th, 2010, a gang of 40 or so local Manchester United supporters turned up outside Wayne Rooney’s home in Prestbury, Cheshire. Most wore black hooded jackets, some wore balaclavas. It was a threatening mob and one that carried an unambiguous message: join City and there will be consequences. Rooney had just recently handed in a transfer request. Media reports had suggested that his agent, Paul Stretford, had flirted with Manchester City executives in a bid to secure a cross-town move for the want-away striker. A similar group had turned up at Rio Ferdinand’s house five years previously. The defender had reached a stalemate in negotiations with United over a new contract. He had been seen in a London restaurant with then Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon, prompting speculation that he wanted out. As with Rooney, the supporters wanted answers. Upon seeing them, Ferdinand came out and addressed the issue. Rooney stayed indoors and rang the police. Both players eventually stayed. It is unlikely that the men outside their gated homes influenced their decisions. The new contracts and higher wages that followed their stalling may have. Rio Ferdinand will play his testimonial match at Old Trafford on Friday. Rooney is likely to be gone by the end of the month, twelve months from his own testimonial year. He wants out, again, and it appears this time really will be the end. No mob will arrive to persuade him to stay. Many now would drive him away.

It has been a troubling 12 months for Rooney. The quality he once apparently craved United to invest in arrived and in a cruel twist of fate reduced him to a supporting-act role. He is no longer the primary goal-getter, the one looked to when times get difficult. As a leading front-man, he has been replaced by someone more reliable, both on and off the field. At his finest, it’s not outlandish to suggest Wayne Rooney is a more effective player than Robin van Persie, particularly for a team like United who Rooney often carried in earlier days. Yet the Rooney of old irregularly takes to the field now. The fire, enthusiasm and distinct joy of the youthful Rooney have given way to a tepid and predictable style, one that is difficult to not lament. He also regularly appears short of fitness. Quite why this has happened is hard to gauge. Some players, for a host of reasons, decline early. Pace is lost, enthusiasm fizzles out, relationships with fellow players and managers irreparably break down. Perhaps Rooney’s relationship with the club, who bowed to his previous needs, has become stagnant. Maybe there is an inner admission and instinct that as he reaches his peak years, something is going wrong and only a move will solve it. Likelier still, maybe he doesn’t know what he wants himself and he’s being poorly led by a notoriously questionable adviser. Ultimately, it’s all irrelevant. What should have been a career remembered for successes and records, will now likely be recalled with sighs. Someone from Merseyside becoming a Manchester United legend was always going to sound like the workings of a fiction writer, but a formidable young Rooney appeared destined to be the first. A player once hailed as the “white Pele” by those who adored him is now on the precipice of becoming their new hate figure, a mercenary whose unfathomable movements will inspire wrath.

Footballers are not supposed to want to leave Manchester United. Even those who lack the quality to succeed edge towards the door heavy-hearted, knowing that the only route now is down. Few go on to experience similar highs. Young players who have left the club having failed to make the grade have often spoken of their hesitancy and sorrow when it is time to leave. For them, it is hard to accept the reality that only a precious few are good enough for United. Those who are rarely ask to leave. In recent years, there have two exceptions. Gerard Pique, snared from Barcelona at sixteen, was heading back there at twenty one. United’s defence was difficult to break into and he wanted another shot at his home-town club. In the five years that have succeeded his move home, he has played consistently in one of the best club sides of all time and has won the lot. Cristiano Ronaldo became one of the two best players in football during his time at Manchester United and won all that there was to win. No foreign import is ever likely to be as remarkable as him again. He had no ties with United and when Madrid called, the opportunity to enact his boyhood fantasy was too good to turn down. Whispers, however, from those who should know suggest he misses United. It’s not an easy club to leave. Wayne Rooney’s boyhood club was Everton. Unlike Ronaldo, he isn’t in the top bracket of European footballers right now. Before, maybe, but not now. He isn’t in the position to pick who he wants to play for. Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid – the modern elite have shown little interest in a player who just a few years ago would have strolled into every team in Europe. Manchester City haven’t even coming sniffing this time. Only three clubs have regularly been linked with Rooney. PSG looked but went elsewhere. Arsenal appear more determined to spend bigger on a player who, despite being outstanding, has a grotesque past. Only Chelsea, led again by a rampant egotist who revels in disrupting others, have shown any real interest in him. It’s them or no one now. A predictably miserly bid was submitted and instantly rejected. Another will follow before long.

If reports are to be believed – and Rooney’s sustained silence would suggest that perhaps they are – he has a desire to join Chelsea. Again, it’s difficult to figure out why. London is a more attractive city than Manchester, for sure, but one gets the impression Rooney isn’t swayed by that. Mourinho’s undoubted magnetism could be playing a part. A dramatist he may well be, but he’s also a winner. Maybe Rooney feels he would fit in better at Chelsea than he does now at United. Various stories have suggested that Rooney, once a playful and chirpy character behind the scenes, is withdrawn and not seeming himself. Maybe lining up alongside Ashley Cole, who Rooney said he would “take a bullet” for, appeals to him more than continuing to play with players he became a winner with. Even more money, something the modern footballer has an insatiable hunger for, may play its sorry role, too. United are moving into a new era, but it’s believed Rooney’s choice was more or less made up post-Madrid. Unhappy with his exclusion, it’s said he sought assurances that couldn’t be given and felt it would be in his interests to seek pastures new. It has to be wondered what assurances he looked for. Presumably they revolved around playing-time and a cemented position in the team. Given his performances throughout the season, seeking any guarantees appears naive in the extreme. At Everton on the opening day of the season, he looked unfit and unmotivated. An injury followed and from the sidelines he would have grimaced as United, with an efficient and professional striker in tow, coped perfectly well without him. Goals were slotted in, most notably a crucial winner at Craven Cottage, but it’s telling that come the end of the season, Rooney was nowhere near being a candidate for Player of the Year. The league success had shown a life without Rooney could still be peachy.

Feeling disposable is often an unendurable feeling for the modern footballer. It’s said that Rooney has felt unloved at United at times, that the trojan work he provided in his formative years hasn’t been fully appreciated by those who matter most. It is clear that his relationship with Alex Ferguson was never quite perfect. What is unclear is who is to blame for it. While many United supporters view Ferguson with nothing less than adoration, there are some questions that can asked about his handling of Rooney. Throughout the years Rooney has often been deployed as United’s saviour, a plug to fill gaps that have opened because reinforcements weren’t purchased. He has played both forward roles, as an advanced midfielder and a left midfielder. Even when used in his right role, he regularly provided an effort of two men, a product of the street-player spirit that elevated him to early stardom.

Eamon Dunphy, while analysing a European tie a number of years ago, predicted that the constant shifting of Rooney would eventually result in his early decline. It’s hard to say with precision if this is correct, but the theory is not as preposterous as it seemed at the time. The player/manager relationship certainly hasn’t helped. Rooney never provided Ferguson with the sparkle in his eye that Ronaldo brought about during his time with the club. He rarely waxed lyrical about him. Not as much as he did with other players, at least. There is a sense that behind the scenes things were more than awry. If matters before the first transfer request were slightly strained, it’s probable that the relationship that followed was in disarray. Public statements may have suggested otherwise, but it’s difficult to believe that all was rosy between the two. History has shown that Ferguson rarely forgives and certainly never forgets. The season that has just passed has brought this point further into view. United may have coped reasonably well without him, but Rooney’s exclusion from the second leg of the Madrid tie was peculiar. Many predicted it to be the harbinger of a saga that would escalate when the season ended. In truth, it started before then. Bowing out of Old Trafford against Swansea, Ferguson used his final dagger against Rooney, publicly stating that Rooney some time recently had requested a move. The statement was a bold one, clearly loaded with an agenda. It was a final one-fingered salute to the player and his adviser. The message was damning and clear: here, let’s see how you deal with this. It worked in his favour. Supporters had made their minds up. This time, Rooney really did need to leave.

The problem with high profile, drama-riddled transfers is that the truth usually remains hidden. United have already stated publicly that Rooney is not for sale. They said the same about Ronaldo. Liverpool are saying the same about Suarez. The players, through different mediums, say something different. Rooney has remained silent throughout the summer, save for a carefully executed leak from his side. Rooney, it is said, was “angry and confused” about United’s position on him. While many tried to read into the comments, it’s safe to conclude that they were merely all part of a game to speed his exit along. This is the lamentable way things are done now in football. Transparent club statements, silence from the key individuals, quotes leaked from the ubiquitous “source close to.” The truth in these situations is never revealed, as there are always two or more parties proclaiming to harbour different versions of it. Transfer negotiations drag out because the selling club, the player and the buying club all wish to get the best possible deal for themselves. In Rooney’s case, there only appears to be one viable solution now. He’ll get his wish. So will Chelsea. United will receive a fee that should represent his true value. However, it’s a risk for everyone involved. Disposing of £30-35m for a player whose form tends to fluctuate is a gamble, no matter how much money you have to throw around. Chelsea paid £50m for Fernando Torres and have finished 6th and 3rd since his arrival in January 2011. If Rooney arrives, Torres could depart: sometimes, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t work out. There are no guarantees. Similarly, there is no guarantee that selling will be the best option for United. They may not lose a player who once promised to be the wunderkind who would alight the world stage, but with Rooney’s departure they will lose a figure who has been integral to their successes since his arrival nine years ago. Unless someone of quality is brought in to ease the burden of Rooney’s departure, United will be a lesser beast without him. The current revisionism existing amongst some of United’s support would suggest otherwise. His patchy campaign last season means he cannot ever be trusted to deliver again. It is a naive view, in a sense, and one that could only be proved if he were to be given the opportunity to show it was merely a blip and not a stage of decline. The fear is that, under the guidance of a manager like Mourinho, he could return to his old self. Only the future will reveal what’s true. Ultimately, the entire situation is a regrettable one. In those early days, when he looked unstoppable and bent on becoming an all time great, few would have said he wouldn’t retire at United. Everything has now changed. Rooney is said to have fallen out of love with the club which brought him all the success any footballer could ever wish for. And now the essence of the club – the majority of its supporters – is falling out of love with him. There seems to be only one way this can end. It will be a good day when it does, for it will bring to a close a chapter in both the player and the club’s history that has been regrettable for all who have had to witness it unfold.

18 Comments on Wayne Rooney: a regrettable situation for club and player

  1. Great article. Always felt Rooney should of kicked on towards further greatness and United legendary status as he got older but ultimately opposite occurred. Hard to pinpoint his decline – playing out of position, Ferguson reining him in, fitness issues all factors perhaps. That fire and explosive drive is long gone. Never been the same player nor justified the £250-300k a week since signing that contract in 2010. Indeed regrettable for all involved but think more so Rooney as should of been a player up there with the very best. United thankfully have seen his best years and can only hope it’s a case of Torres mark two when he inevitably lines up with Chelsea next season.

  2. moyes is united manager let him do his job,d league has not kick off yet and you are ranting.do u thinkspending huge money as 250k a weekon rooney is a small pay.if rvp is more impresive than him den let him prove himself,football is business after y would jose return to chelsea after all he got for d good job he did.if rooney wants to stay fine we love him n let him prove to be the man who distroyed ac milan seasons ago,d manlimping bayern muchen were afraid of.man utd love him and jose’s sweet mouth won’t change anytin he’s a united and will remain a united.if he wants to go fine,beckham left we hadronaldo,ronaldo did we had rooney if he leaves we have 1001 to fill his shoes.up united.thumbs up moyes. #roo#Respect his decision

  3. The only time this story will end is if he stays or is sold. Seems to me that it all started with SAF stating on tv that he had asked for a transfer ( a petty and nasty statement saying you’ve crossed me and I’ll get my own back) Rooney has denied asking for a transfer and united have also said he hasn’t asked for one. Also he is not for sale.
    Interesting that the papers have every day stoked up trouble with the fans and Rooney with stories that are I feel are lies and they are the ones forcing Rooney into a position where he may have to leave. At least if he is to leave we may see him playing in the position he prefers and not on the wing or in midfield or worse still seeing a player like Welbeck picked before him.
    SAF is a ‘God’ to United but I am sorry to say he went down in my estimations over this affair. He has started the fire and is now sitting back and watching what happens. I have supported United since the 1960’s and have never seen a campaign against any United player as bad as this- not even the papers attack on Beckham after his sending off in the World Cup

  4. I think both sides of Manchester know full well that sometimes players are the right fit & sometimes the wrong fit. Also players stay for as long as they like it or stay until the end of there careers if that’s good for both club and player. Yes I’m stating the obvious some what. But it’s that simple and I think true, especially in an age when for a story, most of the media make things all smoke, mirrors and controversy in order to draw in and sell themselves. Rooney is a great player but even he could need a change or a new challenge. A lot of people like change every now and then to freshen things up. You’re not trying to hurt anyone else by moving on just moving on. If it helps you and your life why would anyone stand in your way?

  5. I don’t know. Everything or 95% is written about Rooney wasn’t been confirmed officially. it simply attempt of mass media to manipulate the player and fans. I am suport United for more than 20 years and I was most of all disappointed by behavior of SAF in this situation. If it is so principal why he didn’t read of Rooney in 2010? Because then without Rooney he wouldn’t win anything and he perfectly understood it. But he could quietly revenge. Having created a situation when the player will be compelled to leave, perfectly understanding that the club never recognizes officially as lie the the words of the club’s greatest manager. Therefore I hope for prudence of fans who won’t boo Rooney and will give him a chance to decide what to do. In any case Rooney is worthy respect for what he made for a club.

  6. This is a great article i must say.I think all this started in 2010.Personally i’ve never gotten over why Rooney did that.Fergie was hurt(i relate with this)that’s why i believe Rooney has no place at UTD no more.Kagawa would take his.CASE CLOSED.

  7. Excellent article. But I’m still not convinced that Rooney is determined to leave.

    He had clearly got fed up with playing for Ferguson, but having a new manager changes things. Before his injury he was reported as being fitter than he had been for years in pre-season. And Moyes didn’t actually say that Rooney was second choice to van Persie, that was just the media mischievously quoting out of context. I’m sure Moyes will have spoken to Rooney to straighten that out.

    Rooney’s reported concerns are about the fan reaction and a feeling that Ferguson has poisoned them against him. It’s not that he wants to go to Chelsea but that he feels he’s being pushed out. In which case this is where Moyes needs to do his job – tell him “Ferguson doesn’t run this club anymore, I do and I want you to stay and I’ll back you up publically.”

  8. I cant believe the audacity of some so called UTD supporters slating SAF over the Rooney issue. This player who was developed by this GREAT club, made him the Icon he is/was questioned the intentions and aspirations of UTD in 2010. His first mistake. The club knows his ability, increase his wages immensely recognising his value, bring in RVP/Shinji, and now his nose is out of joint? WTH? What’s happened to rolling your sleeves up and fighting for your place? Angry and confused? It’s cowardly. He’s chosen to shy away from the challenge of his place and the challenge of becoming a UTD great. Awesome player, terrible attitude…#UTDwillneverdie #redarmy

  9. i just wonder at the intelligence of fans who think there’s nothing wrong with selling rooney to chelsea,i am a diehard fan,yes we lost beckham & ronaldo & we moved on but that was when we had SAF,now we have a manager who is a rookie at the top level & without rooney,a team with lots of vety average players & less worldclass players will even be weaker,chelsea have a complete team but with just one missing part of their jigsaw: a good striker…selling rooney to them will effectively solve that problem & with mourinho in charge & city’s new look,it would be a miracle if we even finish second.Moyes needs rooney,ay least for this coming season whether or not we buy new players,thats the fact & thats why he wants to keep him; how can we fans help? by showing wayne we still love & want him,if moyes can help wayne rediscover his old love,am sure our attack will be unstoppable next season.in my honest opinion,SAF’s vindictiveness is to blame for this & we fans shouldnt make the mistake of letting it decide for us…lets not boo him in the next match,lets show we love him & thereby make things easier for moyes.i repeat,IT WOULD BE A VERY BAD IDEA TO SELL ROONEY TO CHELSEA.

  10. A really good, measured and intelligent article. I suspect Rooney’s motivation is pride rather than reason: he feels less valued at United and has convinced himself the grass is greener somewhere else. It isn’t and my suspicion is he would regret a move away from Old Trafford. The rational thing to do is stay where he is for a year and see how he feels next summer, when he’d be in a more powerful position anyway because he’d only have a year on his contract. But the truth is whichever club he moves to he won’t be guaranteed a place unless he delivers consistently: he’ll secure this just as easily by staying at Old Trafford.

  11. please dont use this stupid cliche like the only way after united is down – it makes look us stupid – united its not the best in the world(real, barcelona, bayern i think at the moment is superior as well as chelsea man city on paper) and this year without rooney it propably will be worse off. and yes selling him to chelsea would me most suicide and stupid idea in history of all stupid fergusssons ideas. i know he’s retired but this is his present to moyes . rooney is one of the best players united have , he’s off form because he’s sulking due to fergussons mismanagement(bad treatment) its fucking obvious why you so many united fans don’t understand that and are so stupid that they want to sell one of the best our players to bigest rival just because ferguson said so.. fuckin hell ferguson done so many bad decissions over the years he’s not god he’s human why be in denial and don’t see that? i think at the bottom of this problem is van persie deal – glazers need to recoup that money and it was a deal between fergie and glazers – buy me van perseie and you can sell rooney at the end of season. so many fans forgeting that we have owners who are stealing from united coffers and saddled it with 500 million ponds debt. of course be naive and stupid and don’t see the problems its much easier. why they taking a piss from us fans want us to believe that this fabregas “pursuit” is real thing??? he’ll NEVER EVER WOULD LEAVE BARCELONA AND EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT:) if we sell rooney we will be short on strikers. so far nothing positive this year for us happening..

  12. andy b what do you mean? your comment is a collection of absolutely meaningless cliches?? pathetic:)

  13. Great article! Ye many believ that rooney’s fitns is in decline, compel him mostly with rvp, in striking rvp is indd great, but what of work rate? Against man city last season he did very well scoring 2 but with last minute goal 4rm rvp all praise goes to him $ roo been 4gotin… One tin is clear, united will never know roo’s value until he leaves 4 chelsea, $ get united with rvp… Infact let me reserve ma comment!

  14. U guyz r funny.i wonder y utd fans r scared of loosing runy 2 chelsea.letz nt b selfish afterall we did d same 2 arsenal last season.futbal is all abt entertaining nt do or die affairs.shocken transfer is one of d biuti of futbal n i urged all utd fanz nt 2 c runy as a bitrayer coz dat is d nature of d businez.we shud rspct his decision n wsh him gudluck in his future endeavour.

  15. The signing of Van Persie and Kagawa, although amazing business, has always seemed a bit of a passive-aggressive dig at Rooney for ever suggesting that the club needed to sign more quality players. Instead of buying a central midfielder last summer, the position everyone knew we were light at, the club sign two players who play the two roles that Rooney always had the most success playing.

  16. Poor United fans going to lose one of the best players they have had over the last 10 years haha loving it! Super article and I wish Rooney all the best. United fans and the club have treated Rooney like a 2nd rate player over the last two years, a player who has done so much for United. My guess is he will go to Chelsea making them a stronger side and with Mourinho he will get back to his best playing as a main striker. United fans seem to forget the great passing side to this great players game as well as goals. He will be missed and united will be weaker without him. As a City fan I would hope he went abroad instead. United fighting for top 4 this season good luck your gonna need it!

  17. Brilliant article. Pleased to see the revisionism of a large number of our fans being addressed. We will miss Rooney, badly. I think it’s a terrible shame that it’s got to this messy stage and I’d say that at this point it’s pretty useless trying to apportion blame (though Paul Stretford is a vile man). I still hold out hope that he will be persuaded to stay and absolutely not receive any more money but this is wildly optimistic. It sucks that Chelsea is the only destination that looks likely as I am sure he will return to form with them. And with our frankly embarrassing efforts in the transfer window so far we really need to sort our shit out. Can’t wait for the actual football to just get started!

  18. I drop a comment whenever I like a post on a site or I have something to valuable to contribute to the conversation.

    Usually it is caused by the sincerness communicated in the
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    a regrettable situation for club and player Stretty Rant.
    I was actually excited enough to drop a
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