On top of their busy schedule of meeting their own deadlines, a few select journalists have taken time out to RoM their insight to the Wayne Rooney ordeal.
1. Who is responsible for this mess?
2. Do you think Rooney will now spend the rest of his career/most of his remaining years at United?
3. Do you think United will now show ‘ambition’ by spending big in Jan/next summer?
4. Where does this rank amongst Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievements?
5. Has this changed your opinion on Rooney in any way?
6. Anything else you know from behind the scenes?
Oliver Kay, The Times. Follow him on Twitter.
1. If we’re going to play the blame game, we have to say that Rooney and his agent are responsible for the whole thing becoming so public and so ugly — and at a time when his stock, football-wise and personally, could hardly have been lower. Rooney will be happy with the way it ended up, but if he’s unhappy about the way some of it unfolded, it was the way they chose to play it. I’ve got to add that the club should never have allowed him to get into the final two years of his contract. They took his commitment for granted and, by waiting until August to sit down with his agent,, they left themselves in a position where could be held to ransom. I’m sure if they had started the process in March, when Stretford returned from a ban, I’m sure they would have saved themselves a lot of anxiety – and possibly money too.
2. In theory, that seems more probable now, but what’s to stop this happening again? Who is to say that his initial misgivings were wrong, given that Ferguson, Van der Sar, Neville, Scholes and Giggs will all be departing soon? This contract only runs until June 2015, when he’s 29, so they will probably need to negotiate again within two-and-a-half years. Given the ownership situation, no United employee or fan can talk with total confidence about how the club will look in another two or three years.
3. I’m not sure about January, but next summer will see big changes – outgoing as well as incoming. The three names I’ve been hearing are David De Gea, Jordan Henderson and Jack Rodwell. Henderson and Rodwell might be in contention for one vacancy, I don’t know. Gareth Bale would seem an obvious target, but I haven’t yet had that link ‘stood up’. Everyone seems to assume they will buy a striker, perhaps Benzema, but I really can’t see that at the moment.
4. From the moment it went public, he played it brilliantly, but I can’t view it as a classic Ferguson achievement – certainly not comparable with any of his great feats. Winning trophies is an achievement. Rebuilding teams is an achievement. Persuading Eric Cantona to stay in 1995 was an achievement. Persuading Cristiano Ronaldo to give it more one season in 2008 was an achievement. This just feels like the club was forced into a corner by a player and his agent. It was a victory for player-power and agent-power.
5. Along with the other business in his private life, it has left a sour taste. From the limited dealings I’ve had with Rooney, he always comes across a normal, likeable, down-to-earth lad – a blast from the past in some ways. I’ve been as willing as anyone to buy into the street-footballer-cum-family-man-cum-old-fashioned-superstar image. That image looks a little worn now, but he needs to get back to .
6. That Gill and Ferguson genuinely thought on Wednesday that they’d lost him and were convinced – and still are – that he had been tapped up by City; that a couple of Rooney’s team-mates had a go at him for the timing of his statement (two hours before kick-off on Wednesday) more than its content; that his apology to his team-mates on Friday morning was every bit as sheepish and awkward as you would imagine.
1. On a scale of 1-10, I’d say Paul Stretford is a 9, Rooney 7 and maybe a 6 for the club. Don’t forget that United couldn’t really make a move on the contract last year because Stretford was still banned and didn’t get his licence back until February. Then came the World Cup, the court case and the newspaper revelations.
2. No. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes next summer a la Ronaldo. Easier for all parties to do it when there are no games and no scope for protests.
3. Torres could be a possible in January if Hodgson remains in charge. If Hodgson goes, then Torres stays. Don’t see big money spending in January, but there has to be investment next summer because United will need at least six players considering those who will retire soon and those who aren’t up to it.
4. I think it’s being over-played. Persuading Keane to stay when he had itchy feet was bigger because Keane would have gone. Still suspect Rooney was more driven by what others were telling him.
5. Ask me again the next time he kisses his badge.
6. That if you follow a seagull it will lead you to cow that looks better than your own cow, but isn’t.
1. I feel United took Rooney for granted and should have signed him to a new deal before the World Cup when he wanted to do it. The delay was almost catastrophic for them. A top player should never be allowed to get so close to the end of a contract. The fact that the news leaked last weekend didn’t help either. What could have been settled privately suddenly became very public.
2. No I don’t. I think Rooney will end his career back at Everton, with possibly one big move in between. This contract gives Rooney his pay rise and United the secure knowledge that when he does decide to go he will be well under contract and they will be able to sell him on their own terms – as they did with Ronaldo.
3. Not in January but, yes, next summer. I think next summer will be the busiest for a while as far as United are concerned. Maybe as many as six players.
4. He has played the game brilliantly this week. He smoked Rooney out with his emotional comments on Tuesday and once Rooney responded on Wednesday the pressure became too much for him and he buckled. However, let’s not get carried away. Ferguson should have ensured Rooney was tied to a new contract well in advance of this saga.
5. No. Not at all. Rooney did nothing wrong. He decided he didn’t want to sign a new contract and he said so. The only mistake he made was to put his name to a statement on Wednesday that I suspect was drawn up by his advisors. It was crass. It was great for the media, but he should have said nothing.
6. Only that Fergie pretty much ordered Rooney to apologise to the players at Carrington on Friday morning.
1. Three people, in order: 1) Rooney, who has let himself down badly from start to finish (and at a time when his form and public opinion of him was at an all-time low) 2) Stretford, easily the least pleasant man I have ever had the misfortune of dealing with in football (just ahead of David O’Leary) 3) David Gill, for the decision to delay the contract talks until after the World Cup, which was always a mistake.
2. I don’t think anybody can say that for certain. What if he’s right and United are in decline under the Glazers? You can imagine a scenario whereby Fergie has retired, Scholes and Giggs are finished and the next manager is struggling (a pessimistic scene, admittedly), so does this all happen again in two/three years? You can’t rule anything out because what we’ve learned over the last week is that Rooney, and his agent, are first and foremost rich men who want to get richer.
3. Tough question. I think they have to. Let’s be honest, a lot of the thing Rooney said in his statement (even if all he did was sign it off) were true. The team do need two or three more category-A footballers and that costs money I’m not sure they have. They also need a clear-out because there are probably eight to ten players in the squad who are just not up to the levels that this club demands.
4. He’s played a blinder. That’s the thing about Fergie: he might not particularly like me, or the media as a whole, but if we saw this side to him more often he would get much better press. His press conferences this week were brilliant drama, and when he talks like that you just hang on every word. He’s reminded all us journalists why he’s still the most fascinating and compelling man in football.
5. I’m fairly cynical. I know what footballer are like and, while surprised, I wouldn’t say I am shocked. That said, I’ve detected real anger via Twitter etc, not just from United fans. It’s the timing of it all, as if all the whoring/bad performances etc had been a trick of our mind, and the perception he has tried to create that he was some kind of victim. A part of you admires his nerve. But only a small part.
6. Man City are very pissed off. They had been led to believe he was coming. It’s John Terry mark II as far as they are concerned.