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Looking Back – The Rooney Saga

Being a Manchester United fan has obvious benefits. There’s the trophies, the youth system, the stadium, the nice kit, the fact that you’ll never struggle to see a game on television, and the lack of managerial turmoil. And the more of this you have, the easier it gets to take it all for granted – even those who lived through the barren years will say silly things after a defeat at Anfield or a home draw against relegation fodder. However, it’s the last on that list – our managerial stability – that’s important, and the one we most often fail to acknowledge. While every single one of us may indeed love Alex Ferguson, it’s bizarre watching a team for your entire life and basically not once having seriously questioned the manager. It’s not normal, and it’s not an exaggeration to suggest that we might never have the same faith in one individual ever again

And with managerial stability comes a continuity in other areas, too. Ferguson doesn’t take any shit, so we could relax in the knowledge that we’d never be pushed around by arrogant players like in the Chelsea dressing room, or continually shown disloyalty like certain Arsenal players. Anything that happened was all part of the master plan – nobody pushed Ferguson around, and nobody pushed Manchester United around.

And then Wayne Rooney came along.

When Rooney entered his ludicrous run of goalscoring form that ended in disappointment with his injury against Bayern Munich, it seemed to be an absolute certainty that he would go on to break records at United and become a true legend. And after the transfer request, and insulting the club, it seemed that even if he stayed, he could never again be truly loved. Now, however, the former is looking more the case than the latter – seemingly, we’re prepared to forgive and forget all after less than a year.

A couple of games of booing. A near-embarrassing indulgence for a player in appalling form from both the crowd and manager, which it’s hard to imagine any other player enjoying – certainly not one Dimitar Berbatov, who despite playing out of his skin could still somehow not attract the adulation or support posessed by a man in shocking form who’d threatened to join our closest rivals. And then after a bit of good form, it was all over. “Remember the Wayne Rooney transfer request? Yeah, I never had any doubt either.”

In fact, the repercussions could go on for a long time – it could be the start of players beginning to have their say. Ronaldo wasn’t the same – he wasn’t doing it for higher wages at the club, wasn’t trying to engineer a move to our closest rivals, and wasn’t using contract expiry to force the issue. In contrast, when we climbed down to appease Rooney, we smashed our highest wage, shelling out £180,000 a week for his sake – now, any player who reaches such a high level will be able to reasonably demand the same, and wages will be forced up across the whole club as a result.

But more than that, it’s hard to escape the sense that in keeping Rooney we lost something more valuable than a top-quality player. It looks unlikely we’ll see it this summer, but we’ve arrived, fashionably late, into the era of player power. It;s not hard to imagine that if Nani, say, had shone towards the end of the season he might’ve deployed similar tactics to secure a lucrative move away or new contract. His poor form and the purchase of Ashley Young has weakened his position, so we won’t find out this year at least. It’s speculative, but already it’s hard to remember that none of this would’ve been imaginable in the past. It doesn’t matter if Rooney is a ‘special case’, he sets a dangerous precedent for years to come.

When the transfer request came in, my own personal opinion was that he should be immediately sold to the highest bidder. I still think that would’ve been right – there’s no point in getting rid of him now, but the worst effects of the whole affair may not be apparent for another year or two. Glad to have you on board, Wayne, but after that, United feels a little less like United and a little more like any other club. The next time a key player hands in a transfer request or tries some more flamboyant contract negotiation shenanigans, you’ll all remember who to blame, right?

Follow Callum on Twitter or read more by him at Surreal Football.

About Callum Hamilton

Callum writes for The Busby Babe on SB Nation. Follow @Callum_TH on Twitter.

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  1. Costas says:

    @Mr C

    Exactly. The Rooney and Cantona cases are nothing alike.

  2. GoatinaUnitedShirt says:

    Costas and MrC

    Cantonas attack on a fan could be akined to when Keane went through Halland. It was a moment of complete madness and the fire that is in such a players belly in not being second to anyone. Yes problems arise from their actions but these are part and parcel problems in competitive sport. Even the very great Scholsey had to sit in the stands the odd time for the odd missdemeaner.

    Rooney bit the hand that fed him, fucked the hands daughter, shat in the hands new Rolls Royce and wiped his smeggy cock up and down the hands newly decorated front room.

    A bit of a difference I think everyone would agree.

  3. StatesideAussie says:

    Goat … “Rooney bit the hand that fed him, fucked the hands daughter, shat in the hands new Rolls Royce and wiped his smeggy cock up and down the hands newly decorated front room.” That made my day lol

  4. T4M says:

    I’ve learnt to forgive him.he’s such an adorable lad on twitter I must admit.Very innocent seemingly.Good read though.

  5. Sparkz says:

    I refuse to believe that he had a move lined up to City. He wouldn’t have done it, purely for the fact that he wouldn’t have been able to live in the same city as the supporters he betrayed.

    Did he try and screw us over and lie to get more money- yes.

    But like I said- watch his performances and try telling me he’s not got commitment to this club. Watch him on the bench during the Cup semi final vs Man City and tell me he doesn’t care.

    If he stays here for years to come, you cannot seriously tell me he’s not committed. He could quite easily ask for a move right now if he wanted, and the club wouldn’t mind selling him coz we’d get a hefty transfer fee now. But has he not chosen to stay?

    So accusations of being greedy are perfectly accurate. Questioning his loyalty to the club, unfair IMO.

  6. wayne says:

    adorable and very that has to be a wind up.
    just read bellamy won’t take a pay cut of his 80k a week and would rather play for city reserves,kinda sums up what i was talking about and everything thats wrong with the modern day footballer

  7. wayne says:

    @Sparkz his options are ltd because his wife doesn’t want to leave england,just leaves city and the rentboys who could afford to buy him.think you’re deluding yourself its common knowledge city had tapped him up,by his actions proved he had no loyalty to the club just his bank account.
    now he’s making 200k a week better see some kind of commitment out of him that’s all i can say,getting that kind of money then not trying how much more of a cunt could he be.

  8. Manchuchu says:

    Rooney is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

    Oh well.. That’s some United support for ya..

  9. wayne says:

    Rooney is damned by his own actions simple as that,nothing to do with any fan,made his bed so he better produce on the field

  10. Costas says:


    Graphic, but spot on. ;)

  11. Sparkz says:

    Wayne- if he’s as uncommitted as you’re making out- then moving to City or Chelsea wouldn’t be a problem would it? He could quite easily hand in a transfer request right now, and go to one of those 2….where he’ll earn even more than he does now.

    As I said- I don’t see him asking for a move do you?

    By all means criticise him and call him greedy, but anybody can see that one thing he doesn’t lack is commitment to the club.

  12. willierednut says:

    Brilliant player. He’ll show it this season. Never be a legend now though. I said, all I had to say at the time. Rooney knows he fucked up. The manager called him out and he ended up signing a new deal. That’s it done for me. If the club sell him in the future, so be it. Until then…

  13. willierednut says:

    Score plenty of goals!

  14. wayne says:

    @Sparkz with rentboys forking over 50mill for trannyboy not even sure they’d spend 60mill on rooney,probably only leaves city,moved there his life would be misery and maybe in danger.
    those fans visiting him with masks on must have scared the shit out of him,like i said optons very ltd,you think he shows commitment i’m saying he only showed commitment after the big contract.beginning of last year he wasn’t trying and his play was putrid.he’s nothing more than a rentboy in my eyes and i don’t give a fuck if he stays or goes.before all the bollocks it was unthinkable.

  15. bchilds says:

    Neither forgiven or forgotten.

  16. Heywood is Red says:

    Looking back- what does everyone make of fergies decision to drop jim leighton for les sealey?

  17. Sparkz says:

    Wayne- since when did Chelsea become financially sensible? Do me a favour, if Rooney said he wanted to leave tomorrow, Roman would be first in with a £60m offer, and they’d ship Drogba off.

    And you’re kinda contradicting yourself- you’re saying Rooney wouldn’t go to City for fear of his life- yet according to you, he was more than willing to go there in October? And don’t act like the guys in masks made him realise how dangerous it would be for him if he’d gone to City…he would’ve known that before, this is a local rival you’re talking about.

    His form might’ve been dog shit at the beginning of last season, but I wouldn’t say he was any less committed on the pitch tbh. You’re forgetting that even after he signed the new deal, he still had another 3 months of poor performances. Poor performances doesn’t equate to a lack of commitment.

  18. United till i die says:

    @Keano86 “NOBODY is bigger than the club. despite what rooney may think”.

    I agree and that also goes for fans as well, if you cant support EVERY single player while they wear the red shirt for 90 minutes then fuck off. You dont have to like him as a person but while he plays for us he should get every fans support.

  19. wayne says:

    @Sparkz hi mate, not contradicting myself,think rooney had his head turned by the offer of big money without thinking of all the consequencs.When it comes to roman, lost his fucking head in january chasing the CL but the reality is once the fair rules come into play chelsea are in deep shit,roman cannot keep spending money the club doesn’t have otherwise no europe. same goes with city.
    can have all the money in the world but when the club has to start balancing books the madness has to end

  20. Sparkz says:

    Yeah but if a player of Rooney’s calibre became available, you can’t tell me Roman wouldn’t bring the chequebook out- especially with Drogba and Anelka in their 30′s! They’re well in need of a striker and they’d go for Rooney without a second thought if he was gonna leave OT.

  21. wayne says:

    i don’t understand the rules,what i can gather if they were in place today neither chelsea or city could enter CL.not saying he wouldn’t want rooney,what i am saying might not be in a position to buy him.Drogba and Anelka are irrelevant because already bought and paid for and age wise not worth to much in transfer fees,roman would still have to go in the hole to a tune of 60mill.
    i think chelsea are in serious trouble have a aging team but not seeing to much transfer activity.signing trannyboy for that kind of money one of the worst decisions ever,team is in decline yet roman is stuck with these fair play rules,he just can’t keep writing cheques

  22. King Eric says:

    I pay hundreds to watch united every season and I know for a fact I would rather see rooney playing than not. Yes he fucked up but to say he won’t go down a legend if he stays the rest of his career is in my opinion a piss take. Say he has twelve or so years here and helps us to shit loads more trophies then folk will remember that October fortnight? Do me a fucking favour. Its done. Time to move on. For what its worth I reckon he is gonna be top drawer this season.

  23. Callum says:

    Thanks for the comments and stuff. I’m not saying get rid now – the damage has been done and I do really like him as a player.

  24. Rai says:

    Brilliant article.

    This will rumble on for a while, as the bad feeling is still very much there in some quarters. I very much enjoyed singing “Steve Gerrard Gerrard”, but after what Rooney did we were left with egg on our faces – there’d no defence….he made us all look like cunts – so us calling him a cunt can come as no surprise…….I’m sorry to say this and I know this will be unpopular – but I still haven’t forgiven Rio…so Rooney has no chance

  25. North Stand Tier 2 says:

    we are so bored of transfer rumours that we have to read about the Rooney saga yet again… Ofcourse we had to keep him, he is the only attacking player in the squad that at the top echelons of the football world. What would it have said to potential signings if Rooney had left two years after Ronaldo and Tevez. Keeping him was a message to everyone else as well, “we are Manchester United, we keep our best players when we want to, and we sell the ones we don’t want anymore.”

  26. Rai says:

    North Stand Tier 2 – I agree in one sense about the message it sent out….but it depends how you interpret that message. One way is the way you have, the other one is we’ll be taken for a fuckin ride. The manager, players and fans. Scholes, Nev and Giggs were probably disgusted….he’s lucky to play for us – not the other way round.

    King Eric – We’ll have to disagree on this one bud!!!!

  27. King Eric says:

    Rai. Hello mate. Ha. Yeah we will agree to disagree. Suffice to say northstand called it right and someone previously. If we had sold rooney to city it didn’t bare thinking about. The football world would have loved the “powershift “. We would have looked exceedingly smalltime.

  28. Rai says:

    Willie mentioned a wage cap the other day, I think there should be something to stop the madness. Like he said top end footballers fair enough, but when you think people like Shaun Wright Philips getting millions in his career for fuck all it does make you wonder…

  29. willierednut says:

    The message was loud and clear, don’t fuck with the boss! There was already a contract on the table for Wayne to sign. He signed it. End off. What, lose him on a bosman? That’s real smart. Glazers are cunts blah blah blah. They ain’t fucking stupid. I battered Rooney, when this shit broke out in October. Vented my spleen in the fullest. Got that shit off my chest. Keep going on and on about it… fuck that. He’s a cunt, yes. But he’s our cunt. He’s our cunting cunt!

  30. Rai says:

    Also Cantona77 made a great point at the top. This will probably happen more and more, especially when God retires. Whoever plays for the club should appreciate the history and standards. Manchester United Football Club are not a team playing a game, Manchester United is bigger than religion itself in my eyes and should be treated in that manner.

  31. willierednut says:

    Rai – How about a cunt cap? Lol.

  32. Rai says:

    Willie – “he’s our cunting cunt”….I’ll agree on that one!!

    As for a cunt cap, I think that type of cap would sell……might be tight on the old head though

  33. giggs12gerrard0 says:

    @United till i die

    I understand your argument mate and like I say Rooney is a great employee and one we would rather have but that is all he is to me an employee.

    I for one will never sing his name, did I cheer when he scored the winner against City of course I did we just beat City i went nuts! Did I cheer in Wembley when he scored against Barca? Of course I did we just levelled the game in the euro cup final. I never celebrate an individual goal I celebrate the fact United have just scored.

    Maybe its just me, maybe i should sing his name i dont know but the one thing I do know is he did it to Everton and he wanted to do it to us, he just didnt realise the ramifications until he went piblic.

    I dont agree with the notion of you have to support every player no matter what they do, we are not lemmings and dont need to fuck off because we refuse to forgive and forget. Time may heel who knows but the thought of him saying we have no ambition and to disreprect the gaffer then his now divided opinions from fans is fully justified.

  34. Rai says:

    Giggs12Gerrard0 – top post

  35. willierednut says:

    Lemmings can’t sing.

  36. Sparkz says:

    King Eric at 19.35-
    I pay hundreds to watch united every season and I know for a fact I would rather see rooney playing than not. Yes he fucked up but to say he won’t go down a legend if he stays the rest of his career is in my opinion a piss take. Say he has twelve or so years here and helps us to shit loads more trophies then folk will remember that October fortnight? Do me a fucking favour. Its done. Time to move on. For what its worth I reckon he is gonna be top drawer this season.

    Pretty much bang on I’d say. Him signing that contract put the club in a good position as well, coz if his form didn’t pick up and Fergie wanted to get rid in the summer, we’d have the comfort of him being on a long term deal = a big transfer fee.

    What we saw in the last few months was Rooney playing out of his skin. He carries that on for a few more years and he WILL go down as a legend, no question about it

  37. Zibbie says:

    “he’s our cunting cunt”
    “he’s our cunting cunt”
    “he’s our cunting cunt”
    That white Peleeeeeeee.
    “he’s our cunting cunt”
    “he’s our cunting cunt”
    “he’s our cunting cunt”
    Wayne Rooney is his nameeeeeee.
    Gloooooorrryyyy Gllooooorrrryyyy Man Utd!
    Gloooooorrryyyy Gllooooorrrryyyy Man Utd! Chug a beer!!!!!!!!!!
    Do it again. One more Time.

  38. smartalex says:

    Wayne Rooney has one of the most attractive noses in the country, according to researchers.–yours.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

  39. willierednut says:

    Breaking News!

    Wayne Rooney to be sponsored by Vicks nasal spray next season!

  40. smartalex says:

    I’m also hearing that he’s the new face of Hoover.

  41. Is it a Devil?? no!! Its a BIG RED DEVIL!! says:

    While I can understand what you’re saying, I think it is equally important to understand the changing landscape in football. Real Madrid shelled out 80 mill pounds to Ronaldo and he’s earning a gigantic sum today. Chelsea has been paying 150K plus salary/week for the last four odd years for few of its bastards and then comes the juggernaut called Shitty willing to throw around money all willy-nilly. In this light, comes a situation where either your let these clubs steal away your star players or you go ahead and say what the heck and pay the salaries although with great reluctance. If we want to be the best, we can’t stand alone with wrong pretense when top clubs like Barcelona and shitty ones like Madrid (hate ‘em to death), city and chelski go on about brandishing big cash for top players. Sometimes you’ve got to play the game just to avoid being a victim but here we’re playing to be a real bad ass.

  42. giggs12gerrard0 says:


    I dont know if leemmings can sing mate but I have produced a beauty for Wesley once he signs!

  43. jay says:

    It’s not that he asked for the transfer request, it was seeing Ferguson on TV and you could see that he was deeply affected I have never ever seen Ferguson like that before and that is what hurt the most. Footballers are human so they want the best for themselves and to be honest clubs are the same once they are done with a player they get rid of them regardless of how much that player wants to stay.

    Clubs and fans can be fickle just as players can, the thing with Rooney that got me was that he had only had the responsibility for one season and then he was ready to bail just like that. Ronaldo had been pinnacle for 3 seasons, in fact he revelled in it and he still does at Real Madrid. So it was really disappointing when Rooney was looking to move and as much as people will say where is the proof I believe he was going to Manchester City, that might even explain why Tevez started acting up as he may have been told Rooney would be coming but that’s a whole another issue.

    Seeing Ferguson rocked to the core, that one really hurt me, but the Rooney saga has made me realise anything is possible any player can go anywhere it does not matter if the teams are bitter rivals as longs as it is a paycheck who cares.

  44. willierednut says:

    Fergie played the media like a violin. He knew by calling out Rooney and the leech Stretford, he would be taking the upper hand. That proved to be the case in the end.

  45. wayne says:

    @willie have to disagree somewhat,no doubt sir alex played the media but by all accounts,sir alex and rooney had a pretty tight realtionship almost father/ i think sir alex was genuinely hurt and felt betrayed like alot of us did.

  46. indiandevil says:

    The US tour Begins July 13th, New England Revolution v Man United at the Gillette Stadium followed by games against Seattle, Chicago, All star Team and finally the big one gainst Barcelona.

    Here’s a preview of the US Tour- Will the Fringe players make their mark?

  47. united_greats08 says:

    I know it pains me to say this but as a fan from the Philippines, but I had to learn the harsh realities of being called a Gloryhunter. True that I started watching United back in 1999, but I can’t deny liking them for what I’ve learned, not just the trophies they’ve earned. I’d by lying if I said most of my fellow Filipino fans didn’t like United for their style of footy or how they win their titles year per year, or even getting ourselves spoilt for choice esp. when Sir Alex Ferguson himself chooses his players. We can’t deny these things.

    The fact that we’re one solid evidence of a growing fanbase outside of Mancunia is something that I can be proud of, no matter how much I’d feel ostracised by some of you here. So I’d say go ahead shoo us away if you’d like, ‘cos from the very start we chose to learn how to love Manchester United and FCUM too (even if we only have limited access to their activities) and we will continue to do so, and fight for it until the very end.

    It hurts, and I’d cry blood if I have to, but for the sake of our newfound hope in watching the Greatest Team to Walk this Planet we have to continue following Man Utd because it has given us something to inspire us and help us realize that we’re not alone in supporting this great club outside of Mancunia. We have to face facts too, that because of technology we can avail of these things, whether we buy the club’s merchandise or not, whether we watch the club’s losses or not.

    Thanks STR for sharing this info to us. We know we’ve been spoilt for choice on this one, and yeah we’ll do the best we can to keep ourselves grounded for the club’s and the local fans sake…so when the time comes that the club goes through a weird transition, we’ll be here.


  48. Karlosmufc says:

    I felt at the time he should be sold. When he wasn’t I was sure he would be in the summer, Fergie always get’s his revenge, no matter who the player is. But as the season wore on and the initial shock faded, I began to feel as if it was all too convenient. Rooney was brought back too quick from his injury, he had not played well and only scored one goal since. Our performances were also a bit lacklustre.

    It was obvious he needed a break. It was also obvious we would need to spend big in order to replace Van Der Sar, Neville, Scholes and Giggs, who all could of retired, and only Giggs didn’t. How better to make the Glazers act.

    Fergie, knowing all true United fans have the same ”United against the world” mentality he has, will always stick by a player while he is in the clubs colours, promises Rooney a big pay deal and a nice rest in America if he tows the line, he claims he wants to leave, says lack of funding and too much driftwood as the reason. Suddenly we buy a keeper(Lindegaard), go in for Young in January, who we eventually sign in the summer along with De Gea and Jones, taking our spending total to around 85Million, more than the Glazers have spent in any season previous, If we buy Sniejder as well we will have spent more in the last 12months that they had in the previous 5 years.

    Rooney also got his rest and was in America away from everything. And came back on fire, took him a bit to get the goal but once he did he did not stop scoring and providing, he also got the crucial goals we needed, and got us briefly back in the the Champions League final, had the rest performed like him and Park, who knows what would of happened.

    The Rooney saga, could prove to be the biggest gamble Sir Alex Ferguson has ever took and it looks like it has paid off. ALso watch the video of Rooney being taken from training that day, Ferguson has a slight smirk, as if he knows the gamble will pay off.

    There is no way on earth Wayne Rooney would still be at United if it was true what was said. Don’t forget, he was also never seen to say it on tv until after it was all over, when he acknowledged it on MUTV, which under Fergie is an excellent tool to feed the news that we want to be revealed.


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