Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Rooney Dilemma: Tactical Masterstoke or ugly business?

After 72 hours of madness at Old Trafford, Manchester United released images of a smiling Wayne Rooney shaking Sir Alex Ferguson's hand after signing a new 5 year deal with the club. Ending a whirlwind saga and putting the whole episode well and truly 'to bed'.

This week has proven turbulent for Sir Alex Ferguson and everyone associated with Manchester United, when it looked a formality that their prized asset was set to end his association with the club in a bitter exchange of words between player and manager.

What strikes me as curious about all this, is that Rooney first announced he wouldn't be signing a new deal in August. It took until mid-October for the news to reach the public. Sir Alex Ferguson unveiled the terrible truth to the World at United's pre-match press conference, prior to their Champions League encounter with Turkish Champions Bursaspor.

The following day Wayne Rooney released a counter statement reiterating his desire to leave, citing his genuine belief that United no longer matched his ambition and were no longer in contention to compete for honours. In his closing statement Rooney saved face just, by referring to Ferguson as a genius and insisted that as long as United had Ferguson at the helm, United would prosper. A little contradiction, a little more action please!?!?!

Then, just two days after Rooney released his statement Sir Alex and David Gill called a meeting with Rooney to clear the air and resolve an issue which was generating huge attention across the footballing compass. However, after all the damning and scathing statements from Rooney after the meeting with Gill and Ferguson, United's number ten wore a broad smile as it was later announced by Manchester United that the England star had singed a 5 year deal with the club. Huh?

Which begs endless amounts of questions! What did Gill and Ferguson say to Rooney to change his mind? What were the assurances given to Rooney and why was the conversation not had in August, when the issue first arose? This whole episode could have been avoided, which makes me wonder if there is more to the Rooney contract saga - a ulterior motive from the out-of-form star, perhaps?

For months there was tension between player, manager and the executives at Manchester United, but all it took was one afternoon of talks to convince a bewildered Wayne Rooney, that United are still in fact in the hunt for honours and the best players. The speed in which this issue was resolves certainly raises a lot of questions when you consider the negative impact this whole episode has had on Wayne Rooney's reputation.

The past few months have seen Rooney go from a happily married family man to a deceiving and fickle character, and now he will have to win over the public, the United fans and the players he insisted were not good enough to challenge for honours, not so subtly in his statement.

Was it all a ploy to scare the Glazer's and Ferguson into bringing in top quality footballers to the club? If any player at Old Trafford has the power to challenge Ferguson and the owners, it is Rooney and perhaps his actions are genuine, whereby he really does care about the clubs ability to challenge at home and abroad. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Manchester City are just a few clubs that have made a habit of recruiting big name players in the pursuit of honours in recent years and to Rooney's credit he does have a fairly valid point.

Although Manchester United have still been in contention for top honours, perhaps a star name here and there would have been the difference between winning the league by a point instead of losing by a point or edging out Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final instead of being eliminated. It's all ifs and buts, but perhaps Rooney only wants to play alongside the best and when you play for the best, playing with the best should go hand-in-hand. His intentions seem genuine enough, but the cynic in me can't help but point to there being a huge money motivation on Rooney's part. If that's the case, then he has landed at the perfect conclusion.

Perhaps Rooney does simply want Manchester United to reign supreme, but the manner in which he has conducted himself throughout this saga hasn't done Rooney any favours. Maybe he felt that he needed to create a dilemma for United to panic and realise that they need to keep hold of their best players and revitalise their ability and intention to recruit not only gifted youngsters, but proven pedigree too.

Closing Comments
One of the questions many will raise out of this saga is why did Rooney feel compelled to damage his reputation further, by questioning the clubs ambition and will it prove a worthy sacrifice when the transfer window re-opens in January? Will Rooney's hissy-fit have done enough to ensure that Ferguson, Gill and the Glazers capture the best talent on offer, as well as getting shot of some deadwood in the process? Only time will tell.....

Rooney's grovelling period starts now, but come January or as late as the summer, if United start to bring in recognised and established names, I'd wager he will take most of the credit among United fans.

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