It’s safe to say that before the current season got underway, no one would have anticipated this. In an unusually straight-forward statement made by a dejected Sir Alex Ferguson, it was confirmed that Wayne Rooney, fondly and widely considered to be the “heart and soul” of Manchester United, was intent on leaving the club.
A “bemused” Ferguson informed the dumbfounded football world of the fact that he knew of Rooney’s intention since August 14th, when David Gill informed him that Rooney would not be extending his contract and by extension, his Manchester United career. Ferguson was adamant that there was no row between them and so, he was unable to give a reason as to why his star player wanted to leave one of the game’s most prestigious clubs. That’s the “million-dollar” question, isn’t it? Why would Wayne Rooney, who not too long ago declared his intention to stay at Manchester United for the duration of his career, suddenly want to leave?
Seeing that contract negotiations were ongoing between Rooney and the club, the first reason that popped into everyone’s heads was the fact that Rooney and his representatives were angling for more money. However, I don’t think that “money” was the issue for two reasons- 1) Ferguson confirmed in his press conference that the offer made to Rooney was one that other clubs would have found tough to beat and 2) Rooney loves playing the game too much to allow money to put him off. What is it then?
The Manchester United fans have been complaining for a while about the need for capable reinforcements to be brought in. Ferguson was adamant, though, that his squad was good enough and instead of buying proven talent, he opted for relatively unknown players, most notably, Bebe. Ferguson would have expected that the fans would not have been pleased, but he was not about to engage in the kind of “kamikaze” spending his “noisy neighbors”, Manchester City, and European rivals Real Madrid, were indulging in. However, he perhaps overlooked the possibility that even his players would have been a bit irked by the lack of meaningful transfer activity.
While the transfer window was open, Wayne Rooney stated that he wanted a striker to be signed to help score goals. Surely one must understand that, seeing that in the previous season, Rooney, with a tally of 34 goals, carried the weight of the team on his shoulders. After the season concluded, he had the weight of his country to contend with throughout the World Cup. All eyes, all hopes were on him as everyone expected Rooney to deliver England the 2010 World Cup trophy. When England’s bid for the trophy fell flat and hard on its face, everyone who’s everyone tore into Rooney and condemned him for his off-beat performance.
After that loathsome experience, his confidence was left in tatters. The pressure and the overwhelming criticism was just too much to bear. As an all-round team-player, in his mind and rightly so, he should not be relied upon so heavily and after an ill-fated World-Cup experience, he did not want to have so much pressure on his shoulders again.
After surrendering the League title to Chelsea, Rooney was desperate for reinforcements to be brought in over the summer, especially since the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez were not adequately replaced to begin with. The “noisy neighbors” were very active in the transfer market as were United’s other title rivals. Elsewhere, Europe’s most elite clubs were freshening up their squads with some of the world’s best talent. However, despite Rooney’s pleas, all he could see entering the Old Trafford gates was Bebe! No disrespect to Bebe of course, but who would not get frustrated by that?!
Rooney may love playing the game, but he also loves winning. If United were to regain the League title and mount a serious challenge in Europe, then they needed to buy proven players who would get the job done and on a consistent basis. They needed to be ambitious and for once, not reliant on one player to save the day. When Rooney realized that Ferguson was not going to ease the pressure on his shoulders, he decided that he’d had enough. He became disillusioned with life in Manchester. It seemed as though the club he came to love so much was now going to the dogs. The man that he considered a father had let him down. He couldn’t imagine himself staying and constantly being under enormous pressure to keep United afloat. He needed to get away from that pressure and go to a club with ambition, a winning mentality and a drive to succeed not just squeeze by and so, he opted against prolonging his stay at the club.
But, has Wayne Rooney genuinely had enough of life at Manchester United? Do you think he genuinely wants to pack up everything and take his family to Spain or Italy to play in La Liga or Serie A? Away from everything and everyone he’s ever known? Do you think he genuinely wants to betray his team mates and his manager and go to Manchester City? I don’t think so. Before Ferguson’s confirmation, Rooney showed no signs that he wanted to leave, even in the midst of the problems concerning his personal life. He still gave his all, whether in training or on the pitch. He may have been out of form, but he was certainly not out of spirit.
As aforementioned, not too long ago, Rooney declared his intention to stay at United for the rest of his career. Naturally, that would have included signing a new, long-term deal. So at that point in time, he was willing to do that. The fact that he is suddenly now unwilling to stay at the club for the long-term says that he sees a bleak future for the club and he is disappointed and frustrated that Ferguson isn’t doing anything meaningful to help the situation. Interestingly enough, Ferguson was informed of Rooney’s decision not to sign a new deal a mere three (3) days after Bebe was signed. So, given what transpired, he feels that he has no other choice but to leave if he is to win trophies and stay in love with the game he treasures so much.
What Sir Alex Ferguson needs to realize is that as inflated as prices are these days, he still has to buy. Hey, food prices are rising as well, but does that mean that Ferguson would not bother to eat? His squad, contrary to what he believes, is just not good enough. His refusal to pay those inflated prices does not affect the club of the player he wants, but it affects HIS team because his team is left to struggle without the player that they need. And, while Ferguson is passing up the truly talented players, their tenacious rivals, including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, etc. are snapping them up. Buying youngsters as an alternative is a plan that is currently back-firing. There is a strong need for proven players to be added to the squad, particularly in the midfield.
Recent displays are showing signs that United are beginning to gradually fall from grace and their fierce rivals, Manchester City, are very much on the verge of taking their place. Even Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham is snapping at United’s heels. There are few good times ahead it seems and Wayne Rooney has made it clear to his manager that he is not about to stick around and die a slow, ignominious death along with the club. Are things that bad between the pair, though?
The relationship between Ferguson and Rooney has been reportedly described as “irretrievable”, but that may not be the case. I believe that Wayne Rooney genuinely loves Manchester United and if Ferguson finally dipped into the reported 165 million pounds at his disposal and bought some much-needed, proven and talented players, thus showing some genuine ambition, then I think that Rooney would have a change of heart and stay. I’m saying this because Ferguson didn’t say that Rooney wanted to leave the club “immediately”. He just said that Rooney wasn’t going to sign a new contract, meaning that he is willing to stay until his current deal runs out. So, there is time for Manchester United’s beloved number 10 to change his mind and Ferguson made sure to make the point that the door is open and the contract offer is on the table if he does.
So as things stand, Manchester United are in a quagmire of problems. I’m sure this is not how Sir Alex Ferguson envisioned his illustrious managerial career would end. However, there is time to make things right. Ferguson looked seriously hurt and near to tears when he publicly announced the realization that someone he considered a son was about to walk out on him. Manchester United fans must now hope that given this shocking revelation, Ferguson finally decides to do what is right for the sake of the club. However, they must also hope that they don’t lose the apple of their eye in the process.