It would appear that, after being dropped for contributing the square root of f**k all to the Manchester United cause over the past two months, Wayne Rooney is preparing to jeopardise his Old Trafford career in the very same manner as many that have gone before him. As a phalanx of former United ‘indispensibles’ will attest, there is only ever one winner when it comes to disputes with the management.
The news broke late last night that Rooney, from amidst the squalid detritus that is his private life, has signalled his intent to waive on signing a five-year contract extension to his current deal (which expires in 2012) seemingly forcing the club’s hand into a sale – if the doomsday headlines are to be believed.
No telling quotes have been forthcoming from either side of the great divide, except for a brief statement issued by a club spokesman, who laughed off suggestions that the mopey striker could be leaving when the transfer window re-opens in January as ‘horse-feathers and balderdash’ – or words to that effect.
As knee-jerk and reactionary as those suggestions of an exit may seem, the fact remains that Rooney is now within 20 precarious months (14 if you take into account pre-contract agreements) of becoming a free agent, so United will have to put the wheels in motion for a sale pretty smartish if they wish to stand any hope of cashing in.
For a player of his considerable stature, Rooney’s current ire undoubtedly stems from not being bequeathed with the guaranteed first-team berth that he believes he should be entitled to – as, at face value, his ego doesn’t seem to allow him to accept that his removal from the spotlight may have been in the interests of the ‘greater good’.
First came his public insistence that his manager Sir Alex Ferguson has bestowed a phantom ankle injury uponst him, thus veiling the real reasons for his recent omissions, with Rooney even claiming that he hadn’t missed a single training session since the summer despite being quick to apply an ice-pack to his left ankle after being substituted against Bolton last month and being photographed leaving hospital after undergoing scans on the very same joint just three days later.
It is fairly apparent that Ferguson has once again adopted a firm patriarchal stance in a bid to coddle Rooney through the current tabloid maelstrom that is enveloping his home life and also threatening to undermine his professional life – although it would seem that the latter is either
- (a) Too dumb to recognise when his direct superior is doing him a much-needed favour and is therefore talking himself into a premature exiling (a very real possibility), or…
- (b) Using the potentially perilous friction as leverage in attempting to highlight his worth to the club (thus bumping up the monetary value of a prospective new contract).
One could feasibly argue that option (b) would necessitate a little too much in the way of cerebral fortitude from a man that shares more DNA characteristics with a plate of boiled ham than he does with the rest of the human race.
Ferguson’s 24-year reign at Old Trafford has been sporadically punctuated with the facilitated departures of some of his most treasured jewels, jewels that became burnished in his eyes for one reason or another – case in point being one David Beckham, who left the club under a particularly bell-bottomed cloud to join Real Madrid (with an eyebrow full of stitches) back in 2003.
Whereas it’s true that United’s squad was much stronger and well-equipped to lose one of it’s most compelling protagonists, the salient aspect is that Ferguson was perfectly willing to sacrifice a ‘name’ to save face – and the same can be said for Gordon Strachan, Paul Ince, Jaap Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy et al.
It just goes to show that, at Manchester United, no-one is bigger than the club…no-one, that is, except the incumbent manager. If Rooney is going to persist with his threats to walk out on his employers, then he better be bloody serious.