Home > Football > What has the Wayne Rooney saga taught us?

What has the Wayne Rooney saga taught us?

Unless you have been living on another planet, you will no doubt have seen that Wayne Rooney expressed a desire to leave Manchester United this week. This was almost inevitably followed by a media frenzy, fan protests, a forlorn looking Sir Alex Ferguson in a press conference, opinions from just about everybody connected to the game and finally, the twist of Rooney performing a huge U-turn and signing a new five-year deal at Old Trafford reportedly worth somewhere in the region of £160,000 a week.

The first hint of Rooney’s unrest came before the England-Montenegro match on 12th October when he stated that he was not injured, nor had he been this season. This challenged Ferguson’s assertion that he was carrying an ankle knock. The striker was then left on the bench as his Manchester United side threw away a two-goal lead at home to West Bromwich Albion, promoting speculation that the Scot was far from impressed with being contradicted. The following day, the Sunday Mirror ran a sensational story claiming that Rooney wanted to quit Old Trafford. According to the article, Rooney’s recent philandering and general attitude had caused a rift with Sir Alex Ferguson which was by this point beyond repair.

Speculation then intensified on Monday of this week before Ferguson confirmed that Rooney wanted to leave in an emotional press conference on Tuesday afternoon. He said that Rooney’s agent had informed the club of this back in August and that he “couldn’t quite understand it.” He also made of point of stressing that he had “not had an argument with Wayne Rooney at any time.” He added that the Old Trafford door was still very much open for Wayne Rooney, although he bore the look of a man who held little hope.

The following day Rooney appeared to slam that very door shut as he released a statement which revealed his motives for wanting away from a club he had described as the best in the world just months earlier: “David Gill did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad.” Everybody will have their opinion on exactly what he meant by this, but it certainly seemed as if Rooney did not like the direction in which the club is going and perhaps cast doubts over the current squad.

Following this remarkable revelation, the media frenzy kicked in to overdrive. Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City were all mentioned as possible destinations for the striker, although there seemed to be very little substance to any of the reports. Fans protested at Wednesday night’s match against Bursaspor, with one banner describing him as a “whore.” United fans bombarded the internet with “Rooney is a scouse ****, **** off Rooney” and the like. It certainly looked as if he was going to be on his way.

On Thursday, Manchester United urged patience and held talks with Rooney’s representative Paul Stretford in a bid to put the saga to bed. The protests took a slightly sinister turn as police were called to disperse a group of balaclava-wearing protesters from outside the striker’s home.

Finally, today Rooney dropped a bombshell. He had changed his mind. He now wanted to remain a United player and signed a contract extension that will keep him at the club until 2015. Whatever has been said this week has convinced him he is at the right club and Rooney has cited Sir Alex Ferguson as the reason for his decision: “The manager is a genius and it is his belief and support that convinced me to stay.”

Wayne Rooney will be wearing the red of Manchester United for a while longer yet. (This image is the property of Fox News)

Although Rooney may well now need to get the fans and even some of his fellow players back onside (Patrice Evra is rumoured to be particularly angry), the situation is essentially resolved, at least for the time being. However, one question remains. What has the Wayne Rooney saga taught us?

Firstly, it must be said that Rooney’s conduct leaves much to be desired. The statement he released was ill-timed, not properly thought out and may now have put him in a very difficult position. If we compare his conduct to that of Cristiano Ronaldo prior to leaving Old Trafford, it looks particularly bad.  It is however, symptomatic of modern football. We live in age in which players hold the power (as Ian Holloway so eloquently told us all yesterday) and this week has made that very clear. There was once a time, not that long ago, when Manchester United refused to be held to ransom and Sir Alex Ferguson kicked out anybody who had the temerity to challenge his authority. Those days are seemingly gone. Players are now acutely aware of their value to their clubs, both in terms of transfer value and commercial value. So too are their agents. It is no longer feasible for clubs, even of the size of Manchester United, to let players rot in the reserves to spite them and then let them leave on a free. Consequently, if the player kicks up enough of a fuss, he will eventually get the move or new contract he seeks. This seems to be what has happened with Wayne Rooney as he has got a new bumper contract. Whether he actually ever had any intention of leaving is something that only he knows.

Secondly, we have seen once again why Sir Alex Ferguson is the best in the business. He refused to react in a heavy-handed manner and adopted a conciliatory tone throughout. People spoke of the Stams, Keanes and Beckhams of the past, but Ferguson’s ability to adapt as the game has changed is what makes him the greatest manager alive. He knows that he now operates in a world in which players and agents hold the aces and so he behaves accordingly. In short, he did not let his pride get in the way and throw Rooney out of the door. To do this would have been cutting off his nose to spite his own face and he knew it. Ferguson has what he wants; Rooney in a United shirt.

Perhaps the most important thing we have learned is however, the following: Wayne Rooney is a human being and a young one at that. Football players are major celebrities now and earn vast sums of money, but to think that earning £100,000 a week makes you less human is wrong. How many people contemplate leaving a job because they are not convinced it is the best one for them? How many of them go so far as to go for an interview while still in employment with another company? How many even start a new job before deciding that they have made a mistake and returning to their previous employer. The answer to all of these questions is many.

Wayne Rooney did not conduct himself with the level of professionalism that can reasonably be expected of somebody in his position and he will now have to deal with the consequences of that. But when all is said and one, he has only done what thousands of people do every week, contemplated a change of job and so it seems that Wayne Rooney is, after all, only human.

Categories: Football
  1. Harpie
    October 26, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    A succint article – kudos.

    Here’s a theory for you to mull over. Do you think Rooney and Fergie might really have their “father-son” relationship as reported and it may well be stronger than ever? Is there a possibility that fergie and rooney were getting upset with the lack of funds available and have engaged in a little role-play and got what they both wanted: Rooney gets cash and Fergie gets cash to spend in the transfer market?

    Ok, it might be a little far fetched, but i wouldnt put it past the wiley scotsman.

    • October 26, 2010 at 10:47 pm

      It is far fetched, but it is a theory that has been bandied about a fair bit. I don’t think it is the case. I think there was genuinely an issue there with Rooney and I don’t think Ferguson would have risked the media circus that ensued. It remains to be seen of course whether the funds materialise. The amount that United have available seems to vary depending on who you listen to. I found this Guardian article interesting and David Gill and JP Morgan seem to have very different views. It also discusses the issue of amortisation and what this might mean for Manchester City.


  2. Nick
    October 26, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Top article, Nick.
    I would, however, query whether Ferguson reacted in a conciliatory manner because of the manner in which the game has changed over time. Rather, I think he was forced to leave the door open for Rooney (as opposed to slamming it in his face as he had with Stam, Beckham and others) by the poverty of United’s current squad and the lack of players who will be hitting their prime in the next two seasons. Rooney was simply too valuable from a footballing perspective.

    • October 26, 2010 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks for the positive feedback, always nice!

      I see where you are coming from here and to be honest, I agree. Ferguson realises that he needs Rooney and so do the likes of Joel Glazer and David Gill, hence the bumper contract. However, I do feel Ferguson has been able to adapt to the changes in the game as time has gone on in a way that somebody like Brian Clough may have failed to.

  3. Superiorraw
    October 23, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Well you’ve definately addressed some fine points here. Firstly for me is the manner and unprofessionalism shown by Rooney over the contract. Did he really have to come out and make a statement?
    Talks were being held before the world cup, with a view to continuing afterwards, whilst at the time the Player and his agent didn’t get the assurances of the future of the club, what does that tell you about the person he is?

    I understand Wayne wants to win trophies, every big player and any footballer with ambition wants to win things, but his way of going about it really has lowered my opinion of him on the whole. The minute the contract talks hit a stalling point he seemingly come out and started whinging, did Rooney offer anything really in his statement that ‘had to be said’ publicly and couldnt be said behind closed doors?

    Contradicting the manager and citing reasons that the squad isn’t currently good enough isn’t a good attitude to take, all i can hope now is that he follows in the footsteps of many other players recently who have been in the media spotlight, do less talking in the papers and more playing on the pitch. I’m sure, certain even that if Rooney bags 20 or so goals this year fans will soon forget.

    As for the other players in the squad, I guess they could use this as a welcome challenge to prove Rooney wrong, I dont think Evra or Fletcher have anything to prove to Rooney or the Manager, but there are some players at United I’d rather seen shown the door, all for various reasons.

    Good article overall. I guess only time will tell if resigning Rooney was a good move or not.

    • October 23, 2010 at 12:22 am

      Thanks for the comment and feedback on the article, always appreciated.

      One thing I would say here is that I don’t think what he said necessarily (and I stress necessarily) is a criticism of the current squad. It isn’t clear exactly what he means which is why I say that everyone will have their own opinion. My take on it is that he is concerned about how the likes of Vidic, Ferdinand, Giggs, Scholes and Van der Sar will be replaced in the coming years and given United’s recent activity in the transfer market I would not blame him for this. Indeed, this is a concern of many of the fans who have slagged him off. However, the press has reported it as Rooney saying the club has no ambition and that the squad is not good enough. Yet another example of poor journalism. Unfortunately, most people don’t see past it.

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