I never thought I’d hear myself say the words ‘Wayne Rooney wants to leave Manchester United.’ But today, it became official, Wayne wants out.
Yesterday was the turn of Sir Alex Ferguson to hit out. He played the media perfectly. He cut a forlorn figure. He looked betrayed, disappointed, on the verge of tears even. Yesterday, he put on that good a show that I genuinely felt sorry for him for the first time in my life. However, today is a new dawn and a new day. Today was the turn of Wayne Rooney.
And he didn’t disappoint. He went straight for the throat of Ferguson by dealing with the one issue Fergie cannot talk of or acknowledge – the Glazers.
Fergie has spent their whole reign fending off the venom of the Green and Gold in their battle with the Americans. He has batted off criticism better than a Michael Vaughan cover drive. And it had worked, this season has seen the stands of Old Trafford turn red again. The scarves that made it seem like Carrow Road are now more rare than a successful Paul Scholes tackle.
But once again, the Glazers constant desire to harbour United with more debt in the shape of interest, will come back to haunt them. As will their new transfer policy.
When the Glazers took control, Man Utd’s transfer strategy took on a whole new look. No big money was to be spent on players over their mid-twenties due to there not being much sell-on value potential. This lead Fergie to sign Chris Smalling, Javier Hernandez and Bebe this summer.
Rooney spoke to United officials in August about recruitment.
“I met with David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking. I told him I would not be signing a new contract.”
United only finished one point behind Chelsea last season, but have struggled to keep pace with the Londoner’s this season, showing that maybe Rooney was right to have his concerns.
Many of accused Wayne of seeking more money, but Rooney’s ambition also poured out from his statement:
“For me, it’s all about winning trophies.”
Winning trophies is something that Rooney has become accustomed to since his move to Old Trafford and he, like the anti-Glazer fans, can see a future where trophies may not be frequent. Arsene Wenger has spent the last few seasons investing in youngsters and paying small transfer fees (Arshavin excluded.) This has lead to a barren spell for the Gunners and Rooney would be within his rights to wonder whether United’s similar approach could lead to the same result.
However, with respect to the money accusations, it would be juvenile not to consider them. I persoanlly don’t think money is of that much interest to Rooney. He comes from a low-to-middle-class family and has enough money in the bank to see him good for life. His wages are lucrative and, when topped up with his sponsorship deals, he is one of the best-paid players in the country. There is no doubt that Manchester City could offer him a mind-boggling salary, but they can also offer him what he really wants – ambition.
Whereas United spent their summer signing centre-halves that, despite Smalling’s decent potential, are not long out of the Conference, City were splashing cash on a World Cup winner (Silva), a Champions League winner (Toure) and one of the Premier League’s best players last year (Milner). And with moves for Kaka and David Villa in the past, there is no doubt that City are looking to step up, a project that would appeal to most footballers.
The other candidates for Rooney also showed their ambition this summer. Barcelona signed Villa, Inter kept their star men and Real Madrid bought the World Cup’s brightest star (Mesut Ozil) along with the best coach in the wold in Jose Mourinho.
United have stood still.
Sir Alex Ferguson has accused Rooney of ‘not showing United respect,’ a notion I disagree with.
Rooney has not handed in a transfer request, he has not kicked off in public, he has not slated (just slightly undermined) his manager.
He even showed how much he respects Ferguson in his statement. Fergie has become a father figure to the striker, advising him on his finances, helping him through World Cup turmoils and even sticking by his main man despite his recent personal exploits. Something that is not lost on Rooney:
“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. He is a one-off, a genius.”
Fergie says he feels let-down by Rooney, but if anything, Rooney should feel let-down by Ferguson for not standing up to the Glazers and not attempting to invest heavily in a declining team. Is this the start of the demise of one of the world’s biggest clubs?