The “will he, won’t he?” Wayne Rooney saga seems to have come to a conclusion for now.
After handing in a transfer request at Manchester United last week, Wayne Rooney quickly changed his mind amidst a media frenzy and signed a new five-year contract worth between £200,000 – £280,000 a week depending on which reports you choose to believe. Overall, the new deal is reported to be worth £65 million to the Englishman. It brings an end to a hectic week at the Manchester club where it was reported at one stage that Rooney would join fierce rivals Manchester City.
But why the sudden change of heart from a player who looked determined to leave the club where he has become a superstar?
1. Arsene Wenger Was Right
Without exception, each Premier League manager was asked his opinion during their weekly press conferences. Each gave varying responses, with Ian Holloway’s being particularly media friendly.
However, it was a man who knows a thing or two about transfer sagas that perhaps gave the best answer of all. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claimed this to be a non-story, citing that this sort of thing happens at clubs on a regular basis, but because it was a new face it became a story.
Wenger has dealt with this situation many times, most recently this summer when captain Cesc Fabregas looked to leave the Emirates to return to hometown club Barcelona. Wenger won that battle, and Ferguson seems to have won his one with Rooney. After all, footballers are like houses, and the clubs decide what happens to their property.
2. Manchester United Won the PR battle
Situations like this boil down to a PR battle between the club and the player in question. The media are an important tool in this, especially in the current climate of football blogs and 24-hour sports news coverage. Neither side wish to look like the bad guy, and both want to make it apparent that they have football’s best interests at heart.
Therefore, it should come as little surprise that Sir Alex Ferguson made the somewhat unusual step of admitting that Rooney had put in a transfer request. Roy Keane, Jaap Stam, Ruud van Nistlerooy and David Beckham have all taken on the Scotsman and lost. Could Wayne Rooney be added to the list?
Is it just mere coincidence that Rooney’s request to leave and supposed unhappiness at Old Trafford emerged so soon after his name has been dragged through the mud over allegations that he had cheated on his pregnant wife with a prostitute?
Rooney was already unpopular with many before this story emerged, and he was already fighting an uphill popularity battle with the media and general public. It seems Rooney was on the back foot from the word go in this battle.
3. Rooney Just Wanted More Money
Despite having been off form in recent months, there is little doubt that Rooney is one of the best strikers in world football. Perhaps the player felt he wasn’t getting his just rewards from the club he has served so well over the last couple of seasons?
His assertions that he wished to leave United to challenge for trophies just doesn’t wash. He is playing for England’s most successful club over the last number of decades where he has won the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup. What exactly did he feel he could win at Manchester City that he hasn’t already won, or could win again, at United?
Yes, the Old Trafford side have slipped behind Chelsea in England of late and lost quality players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, but Sir Alex has never let Manchester United slip too far behind the pack.
Perhaps Rooney felt Manchester United were too comfortable that they could keep him without much effort and a reasonable a pay-rise? With only 18 months left on his current deal, Rooney had the option of buying out his contract and leaving on a free transfer. Manchester United couldn’t allow this to happen, couldn’t afford to lose another quality player so soon after Ronaldo and Tevez. In the end, Rooney got the pay-rise he sought.
4. Perhaps Rooney Isn’t Staying?
As mentioned in the last point, Rooney has just 18 months left on his contract, leaving Manchester United in a perilous position. A player of Rooney’s quality is worth at least £60 million in the current climate.
However, United could expect to get as little as £20 million for Rooney if they were to sell him in the January transfer window with so little left on his contract. The only exception would be a possible £30 million bid from money-bags Manchester City who would love to swipe a second player from their fierce rivals.
To leave Rooney go for so little would be financial suicide for any club, no matter how big or small. By getting Rooney to agree to sign a new contract, Rooney can return to play for the club (seen as he can’t leave until January anyway) under the pretence of loyalty while Manchester United have a stronger hand in any possible transfer negotiations. Far-fetched perhaps but not at all impossible.
5. The Thugs Won
Evidently, Manchester United fans were upset that their star player had issued a request to leave the club they love. On Thursday, events took a more sinister twist when it was reported that Manchester United’s hooligan element, the “Men In Black,” turned up outside Rooney’s mansion wearing balaclavas. Although they claimed they merely wanted to speak with the player, reports say they made threats to Rooney, his wife, and disturbingly even towards the life of his baby son Kai.
A Nike promotional billboard of the star was vandalished with the words “Join City And You’re Dead.”
This echoes a similar situation in Liverpool when captain Steven Gerrard threatened to leave the club in search of winning the Premier League. While the official reason given for his decision to stay was the club’s then Champions League success, more than one person will tell you he stayed because thugs threatened to break his legs and end his career.
While violence towards either player may be all talk and no action, it may be menacing enough to change the mind of both players.
After a controvesary-packed week, Wayne Rooney remains a Manchester United player. Fans will hope that he will return to form on the pitch and all this can be forgotten about, however the Englishman’s reasons for both wanting to leave, and eventually staying, could remain shrouded in mystery for some time.