Is It Time Manchester United Fans Forgive Wayne Rooney?

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2014

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It is the news that Manchester United's global fanbase and David Moyes wanted to hear.

After keeping United afloat almost single-handedly since the summer months, Wayne Rooney is on the verge of signing a new megabucks deal to stay at Old Trafford, as reported by Sam Wallace of the Independent

Wallace claims:

Moyes and Woodward have worked hard to change Rooney’s attitude with the player kept fully abreast of their plans for the future and transfer targets. He could even be a contender to captain the team when Nemanja Vidic and, in all likelihood, Patrice Evra leave in the summer. His current deal takes him to the end of next season. Rooney is 29 in October.

The new contract would therefore take him almost up to his 33rd birthday and be worth a staggering £70m in wages alone. Rooney still has 18 months of his current contract – signed in 2010 and worth around £250,000 a week – to run.

The deal is no surprise as the smile on Rooney's face has been there for all to see. His reunion with Moyes was allegedly going to serve as the final act of the player's career with United, after their famous court case where the Scotsman sued his former player, per the Telegraph.

Jon Super/Associated Press

However, the opposite has happened.

In a world where Moyes' list of friends seems to be shrinking by the hour, the one man who is nailed to his side is Rooney.

Popular myth will tell you that had Sir Alex Ferguson remained in charge, the great one would have flogged Rooney and driven him to London himself. But I don't think Fergie really wanted that.

By allowing Moyes to pile on the charm and retain Rooney, while he attends every match as a director, still very visible to the United faithful, you cannot help but think that Fergie approves of this union.

But many United fans have not forgiven Rooney for his antics and tantrums and possible transfer requests. 

With an agent that the player trusts with his life, and as an individual famous for getting what he wants, United fans still remain suspicious—and rightfully so.

Any new deal will be presented as a triumph for Moyes and Ed Woodward with the old football cliche "like a new signing" being played on repeat.

Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

But is it time for United supporters to forgive their favourite Scouser and move forward?

It seems like a simple question with a simple answer, but there is some tangible depth to this specific dilemma.

If your view is that football is just a game, and these blokes run around a football pitch, earning incredible amounts of money that fuels their thirst for Aston Martins and and all the property in Alderley Edge, then you will categorically say yes. 

Yes, it is time to forgive Rooney and embrace the future. 

But it is not that simple. 

If you subscribe to the notion that football is a religion, and you have been brought up to worship and spend all of your days and cash following a team across Europe, in the wind and rain and hail, and you have no money in your bank account because you give it to United for the pleasure of being a Red, you might have a differing view.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

There is no doubt that Rooney's actions are driven by economics as opposed to a love of the club—this he cannot be chastised for.

The boy is an Evertonian and he works in Manchester, as many from the North West do. He is employed by a multinational company who pay him to deliver and keep the share price high. 

But he is also paid to make dreams come true.

He is paid to represent United and not bring the club's name into disrepute. Rooney is not the first player to hand in a transfer request. Older fans will tell you of tales of Denis Law asking to leave, only for Sir Matt Busby to put him right. 

If Rooney is to stay because he is about to earn £70 million in wages, does he need forgiving at all? Does he even care? I seem to think not.

But this is still a relevant and toxic question for United fans who bleed the colours of the club and provide the team with the fanatical support the side needs at every match.

The time has come to call a truce and forgive Wayne, but we will never ever forget.

Armando Franca/Associated Press

As Cristiano Ronaldo wanted to return to the Latin world we had taken him from and Carlos Tevez just fancied going wherever he was told by his agent, Rooney considered joining football clubs that would have desecrated his Manchester United legend, per Ian Ladyman's article in the Daily Mail.

You only have to imagine him busting a gut in a City shirt at the Etihad as their fans do their little backwards pogo celebration in the stands. It is enough to give any Red worth their salt a bilious attack.

Rooney helped perpetuate these thoughts of desertion by his lack of action and by his lack of talking. He allowed people to believe that he would leave, and that was because maybe he was seriously considering it. 

But now is the time for forgiveness.

Football is the most fickle of sports, and though the cheers of "Rooney Rooney Rooney" are not as loud as they once were, when he sprints towards the North Stand at Old Trafford in his pre-match ritual that we used to love, it does not matter. 

His job is to play well and he knows that. As supporters of the club, we may feel we need something more than that, but the truth is we do not.

There is one huge additional point on the back of this topic. Rooney should never be handed the captaincy of the club. Absolutely not.

David Cannon/Getty Images

Outside of England, the "honour" of being captain is not particularly recognised. Ask an American what it means and they will tell you the captain should be the best player. Ask an Italian who the captain should be and they will tell you it should be the most experienced player.

In England, neither is the correct answer.

United's list of club captains are heroic figures and ones who have served the club with unselfish motive. As Bryan Robson would dive in front of a truck for the faithful in the Stretford End, Steve Bruce would squeeze his body clean of all of its blood for the cause.

Rooney does not fit this category of player and his appointment would not be universally backed. Yes, he runs around a lot, but that is not what I am inferring. The next club captain should be Jonny Evans or Phil Jones: brave players who will lead from the front with no ego or tears. 

There is a place at United for Wayne Rooney and it is time we unite and get on with things. If anything good can come of David Moyes' tenure, he will be central to that success.


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