Rooney manoeuvres club into position … again

January 25, 2014 Tags: Opinion 41 comments
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You have to hand it to Wayne Rooney: he has been phenomenally successful at squeezing money out of Manchester United since joining the club in 2004. Or perhaps more accurately, it is his management team of Paul Stretford and company at Triple S Sports, which has manipulated the club in negotiations twice over the past four seasons. Each time, it seems, Stretford and his client have walked away with millions.

In October 2010 Rooney announced that he was unwilling to sign a new contract, citing United’s lack of “ambition,” while attempting to force through a transfer to Manchester City. More than three years hence, following another summer of discontent where Chelsea waited with arms gratefully open, the striker is primed for another bumper pay rise at Old Trafford. And United will most certainly capitulate to his demands once again with a £15 million-a-season five-year contract.

In this it is not just Rooney’s disloyalty that grates. After all, it has long become clear that football is just a business to the street player who used to love the game above all. That is long gone to a man who has amassed a £45 million fortune during his time in Manchester.

Nor even that Rooney has attempted to engineer moves to two of United’s direct rivals, although it simply beggars belief that City was his destination of choice during that October revolution.

No, the real anger among so many United supporters is that Rooney has cynically manipulated the club to his own ends; raising his stock far above performances on the pitch have often merited, while dividing supporters’ loyalty. The essential cognitive dissonance of supporting United’s players on the pitch, contrasted against that feeling of antipathy for what the star striker now stands for.

Back in October 2010 the club caved, offering Rooney a massive new contract amid protest on the terraces and Sir Alex Ferguson’s tubthumping about cows in far off fields. With the Scot into the winter of his managerial career there was seemingly little stomach to call Rooney’s bluff. The player lost a public relations war, but won the contract game.

It was almost six months before the Scouser attempted to correct the fallout from blackmailing United, although in truth Rooney’s team erred only in misjudging supporters’ reaction. They played the club to a tee.

“I understand I made a mistake. When I look at it now how wrong was I?” said Rooney the following April in a classic non-apology apology.

“I admitted that and I apologised for that and I have wanted to try and prove myself again to the Manchester United fans. I feel I am doing that now. I am 100 per cent committed to this club. It was a long time ago now and hopefully now I am helping this team be successful.”

Except, of course, Rooney was never truly committed to the club. At least not in the manner of his peers: Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Nor, it is fair to muse, did United supporters ever really expect him to be. He was once a blue, but so willingly became a Red back in 2004. Nor, it must also be said, did this observation stop Rooney’s team from attempting to pull the wool over fans’ eyes.

“I want to still be playing here in the next 10 years,” Rooney told Sky Sports on a book tour the following year.

“You look at Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, how successful they have been. They are an example to us all. That is the idea, that is the plan, and hopefully that will be the case. I love playing for Manchester United and as long as I am wanted to play for this football club I will be here for a long time.”

So much to shill, so little time in which to do it.

But Stretford’s game of misinformation has been frequently played. The player’s desperate back-channel negotiation last summer brought two bids from Chelsea, with the west Londoners convinced – much as City had been three years previously – that Rooney could force through a transfer. Ed Woodward’s intransigence was the executive’s only achievement last summer.

Yet, Rooney’s team is up to the old tricks once again, engineering not only a route south should contract negotiations prove unfruitful this winter, but the appearance of an auction for the player’s services.

Indeed, recent stories of Real Madrid’s renewed interest in the 28-year-old forward can be traced back to Stretford’s team. After all, the Spanish giants have long since given up on a player who has failed to live with the world’s elite. How shortsighted the once-held belief that Rooney belonged in a triumvirate along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Certainly performances on the pitch have not always justified Rooney’s untouchable status at Old Trafford, leaving Ferguson to omit the Scouser from his side altogether at times last season.

True, in a campaign of alarming mediocrity from David Moyes’ side this year Rooney has worked harder than almost any. It is, though, a comparison from a very low base and one that Moyes has stoked to his own ends. Repairing Rooney’s relationship with the club in the short-term was seen as essential when the Scot took on the job last June.

But gone is the burst of speed that once marked the teenager out as a talent of rare breed; long forgotten the ability to take on an opponent at will. Rooney still puts up decent numbers, but he will never again excite in the manner that brought fans to their feet a decade ago, and journalists predicting future greatness. He may well become United’s highest ever goalscorer, but something has still been left of the table.

Physical decline is evident, while Rooney’s 589 games for clubs and country since bursting onto the scene as a 16-year-old, together with a less-than-professional lifestyle, may take their toll on the player. That bombastic style has already led to multiple impact injuries over the seasons and burnout is surely inevitable.

For the moment there is a symbiotic need though. United for class in an otherwise threadbare squad; Rooney for money and status. Three years hence, with Rooney barreling into his 30s, the five-year deal on offer may well seem excessive.

Yet, Moyes’ strategy of massaging Rooney’s ego has backed the club into a corner from where there is little escape. Nor has it, according to some reports, been endearing to other senior members of United’s squad.

It is now inevitable that Rooney will sign on for another massive pay rise, or finally be sold in the summer. There are more than a few fans, perhaps even the odd team-mate, who tend towards the latter.


James Harrison - January 25, 2014 Reply

great piece… Unfortunately

Howard - January 25, 2014 Reply


Jerome - January 25, 2014 Reply

It’s infuriating that our lack of additional star talent makes keeping Rooney a necessity. Can’t wait to see the back of fatboy.

Neil - January 25, 2014 Reply

Ed this is spot on as always. My view in summer 2013 was that we should keep the player, based mainly on my thinking that the club would not stump up the money for a big replacement… Now all of a sudden we are on the verge of signing Mata out of the blue. If you asked 100 European coaches if they would prefer a 2014 Rooney or a 2014 Mata then I think the answer would be very revealing. Mata is more technically gifted, and despite not having Rooney’s pace or power could answer our need for a creative link between midfield and attack.

Mata is a world-class creative player capable of 20 goals a season, Rooney is great but not world class, he is physically in decline and in my opinion is already overvalued based on his current wages. If Rooney were a world class talent then some of the bigger foreign clubs would have been in for him but this is simply not the case. The recent Real Madrid story is a fabrication, as you mentioned. Real give out massive contracts like free candy but wouldn’t touch a 28 year old Rooney with a barge pole.

Giving Rooney a further pay rise would sicken me and I would rather see him sold in the summer. I suspect Ferguson would have gone in this direction. The question is how much of a risk is it to strengthen one of our rivals, since Rooney would probably be good for 2 seasons at Arsenal or Chelsea.

SKW - January 25, 2014 Reply

More predictable Rooney hate.

He has been the best player all season and we would be sitting on20 points without him. At the same time he is one of two world class players we have.

Dips in form come from many places and the Rooney I see at United now looks not like the Rooney of old but the Rooney who plays for England. A large part of that? united looks and plays like England now. Rooney has been playing in front of a mediocre midfield for years…

Guv - January 25, 2014 Reply

Agree with most off the above comment but Rooney screwing the gimps brings a wry smile… Maybe needs hard ball tactics before the much needed investment in the ‘franchise’ comes..

Jamie - January 25, 2014 Reply

Let’s rid the club of this pest who’s continually looking for a way out. Time for a change and look for his replacement

Partha Basumatary - January 25, 2014 Reply

Due to some reason, I cannot appreciate the cynicism. Rooney is an important player for United and we do not see any one being capable of being his substitute. Whenever he is on the pitch, he puts more than 100% and in this season of doom and gloom, he along with Januzaj have been the silver linings.

The footballing world has changed. In case of multi million dollar deals and soaring wages, clubs will have to shell out more money to retain their star players.

I do understand that some of Rooney’s decisions have shown naivety. But that also does not imply that any one can substitute his work rate and contribution in a football match. We lose the grit and determination when he is not on the pitch. I was looking at a video on his performances last season. He contributed a lot with crucial goals and assists in critical circumstances in a supposedly ‘underwhelming season’ for him.

Any football club is an organisation and a player is an employee. There is nothing called a player loyalty. Relationship between a club and a player is similar to the relationship of an employee with his company.

Varun - January 25, 2014 Reply

the only bright side is that we get to call our strike partnership ” Fat man and robin” a bit longer

minde - January 25, 2014 Reply

now then it looks like we signed mata we dont really need this peace of shit anymore – unless he plays as a backup for van persie, but moyes just dont have a balls to ditch him..just wonder how moyes will play mata, does he persist with this idiotic 442 formation? then its money down the drain and wasted talent regarding mata.. hope he chnage his nprehistoric ways..

Fintan Keane - January 25, 2014 Reply

As always, my feelings exactly.

Dave a true utd fan - January 25, 2014 Reply

Omg i cant believe what you guys are saying about a player who literally is carrying us for the second time in his career can you blame some one for wanting more money for doin a great job if u where at work and you thought u deserved it and could actually yell your boss then you would u all sit and write and slag the great man off but what he has brought our club over the last 10 years is amazing he has been constantly on of the top 5 players in the epl wich is a record he has scored so many vital goals and as soon as you get the chance you stick the knife in your all a bunch of wasters and should not be called Utd fans as a Utd fan we get behind the team and our best players and want them to stay we want the vest players in the world and Rooney is up there

Ed - January 25, 2014 Reply

Dave – why is your opinion the only one that counts? If somebody disagrees with you or puts forward a different argument they’re not “true fans”. I’ve heard this shit a million times and it’s nonsense. Normally comes from illiterate 15-year-olds.

Geraldthadevil - January 25, 2014 Reply

Wow I can’t believe what I just read. OK YES Rooney and his agents have done good business. But in my opinion he deserves it. When Gareth Bale went to Real Madrid the club had to freshen Ronaldo contract, basicly the reason why he is not back with us. Rooney is not as good as Messi or Chrissy but but he is a world class player come on yes he is Late twenties but he been in the thick of it since 16…there was a time Rooney’s name made opponents shiver….so the boy is well experienced n always even at his worst scored double figures even tho most tines he plays every where but upfront..i mean this is a guy that scored a bicycle kick to clench a match from Man city…i mean who sells a player like that? He is world class he played as the main man for England in at least two world cups…he puts in more excellent performances than bad ones, he scores double figures every season n dose not okay his preferred positions most times….i mean why should any one cone in the club n earn more than him when he been there n seen the likes of Van nisteroy,Berbatov,Larsson,Ronaldo,Forlan, Saha all come and go….n he is still just as important to the team now as he was then.

He is a special player yes he has been over weight n Suralex probably would have shown him the door…but at this point where United are right now…given Rooney a new contract is a better gamble than spending another 50 odd million for Cavani or something silly like that. ROONEY MAY WIN THE CONTRACT WAR..BUT UNITED WILL WIN THE FINAL BATTLE. Once he signs any club who wants him must pay big money n if they don’t he plays for us and considering we have Mata,RVP, and a few decent others it cannot be that bad.

David Wiltshire-Craine - January 25, 2014 Reply


Ned Khouri - January 25, 2014 Reply

Go on David Wiltshire-Craine tell us how you really feel right Mark Salen?

David Wiltshire-Craine - January 25, 2014 Reply

Hey Neddy, how are you doing mate?

David Wiltshire-Craine - January 25, 2014 Reply

I am just sick of this guy holding the club I love hostage. For what we are about to pay him we can have 2 maybe 3 very good players.

Ned Khouri - January 25, 2014 Reply

Doing Better than United’s midfield! 😉 I agree he’s a complete bus wanker just busting your balls

David Wiltshire-Craine - January 25, 2014 Reply

His first touch is as bad as Chica and yet no one calls him out and his 50 yard passes have been landing more and more at the feet of opponents so why exactly are we giving him 300K?

Ned Khouri - January 25, 2014 Reply

He’s worth 150k a week tops and that’s if he scores 25 goals a season

greg - January 25, 2014 Reply

good article, and I do agree with some points, Rooney and his ‘team’ have not been the most loveable in the last few years, but let’s face it, Rooney always has been- and for at least a couple more years- will be a huge player for united. yes he’s not the same exciting player as he was at 18/19 but he could potentially end up being our all time goal scorer, that speaks for itself. he’s not the complete article but he is Wayne Rooney.

redmanc - January 26, 2014 Reply

£45,000,000 and it’s still not enough.

dan - January 26, 2014 Reply

Business wise team Rooney are very adept. Utd need him They have him. The rest of the league would love him.What a player though. Swimming in too much mediocrity unfortunately. Check out

Tundd - January 26, 2014 Reply

Interesting read. But nothing new. Football has become a far more cynical world since the days of Scholars, Giggs and Neville(s).
A glaring omission in the interest of balanced writing however, is how much Manchester United have made from Wayne Rooney over the years.

Ed - January 26, 2014 Reply

Not sure how you would measure that. He gets a significant amount in image rights over his basic wage.

RedFrank - January 26, 2014 Reply

There is a reason that the top teams here all want Rooney. He is a TOP TOP PLAYER. If you idiots who persist in slagging him off, actually cared about MUFC you would be singing the praises of this great player every week. Never mind the money. What a talent!!!!!!!!!

Ed - January 26, 2014 Reply

RedFrank – you don’t like somebody’s opinion so you call them “idiots”. Stay classy.

Twisted Blood - January 26, 2014 Reply

Even with the Mata signing, United need all the quality players we can get so I’m fine with extending Rooney’s contract. We will get Rio and Giggs off the wage bill this year so the numbers should work. I would still like him to pay somehow. How about we get the deal done this week and then stick the Scouse in a CM two with Fletch or Carrick? Playing behind Mata? That’ll show him.

Hallvard - January 26, 2014 Reply

Ok so his behaviour last summer wasnt the best BUT in my perspective it was about him beeing marginalised by Ferguson during the spring. Thats different from 2010. He´s a quality player, he represent conitinuity both of which is sorely needed at the moment. He´s in his prime so it´s only natural that it´ll be the best contract of his career.

He´s not your Scholes/ Giggs but i he surely is´nt Lewandowsky, Nasri or Cabaye either.

Jevon - January 26, 2014 Reply

He has maybe 4 years left in him by the looks of things. Who replaces him in the side currently who has that passion, determination, spirit, and drive? I don’t like his personal decisions and his agent is slimeball, but sometimes you just got to hold your nose and do the right thing.

Damian Garside - January 26, 2014 Reply

Rooney seems to be at his best either as sole striker with great flank players, or playing of a great target man, or in the fluid forever-rotating forward line with other adaptable forwards (as it was with the Rooney-Tevez-Ronaldo front 3 in 2007/8.

But he is a paradox in that he plays everywhere and yet nowhere and makes it very difficult to develop a clear structure and ideal formation that maximizes the team’s strength. Can he pair with Van Persie: seems not.. would he be better as sole striker than RVP: probably not. Do we have the flank players to serve him up front: no, that’s why we need Kagawa/ Mata subtlety in the number 10 position. Is it too much money for a player who are (and what a paradox this is) most dependent on and yet who does not entirely, perfectly fit in? This is the decision on which the future of the club depends: but I think that if we want to have a great team again, we might have to let him go. But letting him go could mean we lose so much. It’s a massive risky decision.

JA - January 26, 2014 Reply

This further illustrates how stupid the glazer garcons are since big bad brains Malc had one stroke too many. Even in buying the club they ended up pushing up the share price by their maladroit manoueverings, which meant a bigger purchase price and simply more to the coolmore 2 and more for the club, not them, to pay back.
The stupid financing and refinancing, the infamous PIKs, the bond issue, then whoring the shares around different stock exchanges till they could sell some shares.
They clearly gave Woodie and Moyes a very limited budget last summer, hence the crazy low ball bid for Fabregas and who knows who else, before finally landing the useless Feliani for at least 10m too much.
Now, in full panic mode as the no vote, no dividend shares slide, the garcons free the purse strings to buy a player who, for all his talent, is not the ideal solution for the current team and for millions more than rival clubs offered. If they had gone in with 40 mill for Fabregas, Barca would have sold, told Cesc to go, job done. He would have been a far better fit and sent a signal United mean business on the football field, not just as a milch cow for the garcons in cayman island bank accounts.
Moyes and Woodie are suddenly acting like drunken sailors on shoreleave.
Whoever Moyes signs, I am still not convinced he is anywhere good enough to manage the club.

Mata Lewis - January 26, 2014 Reply

love this. The 75 million we’d spend on that contract could have gone towards Bale (or someone) this summer. Infuriating.

Julian - January 26, 2014 Reply

This piece is more about your anti Rooney bias than anything else. He’s been our best player for most of the time he’s been here and yet when he wants a competitive remuneration package, ie one comparable with what he could get at another top club. you describe it has being disloyal. I think you expect him to accept whatever the club deigns to give him and to get on with it. Which other top player doesn’t demand then best.. This is probably his last major long term contract so why shouldn’t he receive what others are getting at top clubs? You then cap all this by implying that he isn’t worth it as he’s not the player he was. I must say I hadn’t noticed – he’s been superb this season and sorely missed in recent weeks. As I’ve pointed out before, he’s getting to his peak years – the best of Rooney is still to come. On the one hand, I expect you demand that the Glazers spend money on the team and here you suggest they don’t give in to Rooney’s demands. Rather go and spend 50m on someone else is it? Who precisely? The illogicality of your thinking is mind boggling!

Lee Owen - February 16, 2014 Reply

Well said, mate. I couldn’t have put it better myself. To everyone hating on Rooney, I guarantee that you do a little poo in your pants when his name isn’t mentioned on the team sheet. We need him, now more than ever. So pay him what he wants & let him play.

Ed - February 16, 2014 Reply

I can assured you I’ve never ‘done a little poo’ in my pants when Rooney’s not in the team. So much for your guarantee.

Davcal - January 27, 2014 Reply

Although I dont agree with much of the disllike towards Rooney written in this article, I can understand it.
The only opinion I would add is that it, from what i have read, does not appear to be the case that Rooney is holding the club to ransom. It appears the club have valued Rooney this highly.
After all with the signing of Mata the club is in a much stronger position with Rooney than it has been at anytime since he signed. We have a credible alternative to Rooney now.

So maybe we should not be throwing Rooney under the bus on this one. Maybe the much maligned Moyes and Woodward are looking at our rivals and deciding we HAVE to fight fire with fire.
RVP, Rooney, Mata, Januzaj, as an attacking quartet is a mouthwatering thought.
A top midfielder, left back and CB and we are a formidable unit once again.

300k per week is money I cannot even fathom, but thats another rant 🙂

Matthew Jones - January 27, 2014 Reply

Sums up my feelings on Rooney perfectly.

I would add that him signing a new contract, while perhaps a little excessive at five years and with Wayne now 28, is a marriage of convenience.

He gets perhaps his last big bumper pay day and, with the difficult first season for Moyes and with the way he’s carried the team for the most part, we need an on form Rooney to inspire us. Now with Mata signing, and hopefully with RVP and Rooney nearing returns to the team, that will galvanise us and propel us into the top four.

I’ve always said I’ll never forget Rooney’s first transfer request in 2010 and while I appreciate he may not have actually asked he wanted one this time around last summer, as Fergie stated he did, I’ll back him as long as he’s scoring goals and influencing games in a United shirt.

But I hope to god he doesn’t break Charlton’s record.

Brett Collett - January 27, 2014 Reply

Good read, great imagery.

Don'tbesoft - February 16, 2014 Reply

SHOCK as footballer uses agents to get pay rise

(And if Fergie said he put in a transfer request last year then it must be true)

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