Wayne Rooney: Respected but No Longer Loved by Man United Fans?

Stan CollymoreFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2014

AP Images

Over the last 30 years, Manchester United fans have watched some of the game's most loyal players sweat blood for their cause. The likes of Bryan Robson, Peter Schmeichel, Ryan Giggs and the Neville brothers will forever be Reds through and through.

Another legend returned to Old Trafford this week, in the form of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was treated to the hero's welcome his dedication to United deserved.

If I were a United fan, I'd be full of admiration and love for these players, but I would not feel the same about Wayne Rooney. Yes, you have to admire his performances on the pitch for United and the trophies he's won. But there's a difference between love and respect.

Rooney could have been dyed-in-the-wool United; he could have been a proper Red like Gary Neville, Giggs or Robson. But over the last two or three years, he has systematically destroyed the chance of that happening.

20 Jan 2001:  Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville of Manchester United celebrate during the FA Carling Premier League match against Aston Villa played at Old Trafford in Manchester. United won the game 2-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Alex Livesey /Allsport
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Rather than saying, "I love Manchester United, it's bled into my system," Rooney and his agent have concentrated on extracting as much money out of the club as possible. It seems he's always on the verge of leaving, and always asking for a higher salary.

The Daily Telegraph's Mark Ogden and Matt Law (h/t The Mirror's Chris Richards) report his potential new deal could be worth as much as £300,000 per week.

Having worked with Rooney's agent, Paul Stretford, I know exactly what's going on. Stretford is a United fan, but he's also the ultimate agent. He's taught Rooney that business is business, and emotion should stay out of it.

Stretford is ruthless. He could have advised me to stay out my four years at Nottingham Forest, but he pushed for a move to Liverpool. He did the same when I moved from Liverpool to Aston Villa.

Rooney's agent, Paul Stretford
Rooney's agent, Paul StretfordMark Dadswell/Getty Images

Rooney is still a young man. The likelihood is he's not comfortable talking to Ed Woodward at United, so he gets Stretford to make his deals for him. Every time United sign a new player, or negotiate a new contract, you wonder if Stretford is waiting in the wings to push for Rooney's next raise.

That's not how things work with a player like Giggs, who puts loyalty first and cash second.

At some point, Rooney had the decision of whether to go down as a legendary Red or to fight for every penny and ensure he could afford that six-bedroom house in Florida with a garage full of cars.

Sadly for his United legacy, he chose the latter. Or maybe it was his agent. Ultimately it doesn't make a difference.