The media is full of reports about how Alex Ferguson has handled the Wayne Rooney situation amazingly. I disagree. Rooney hasn’t had a decent game in months, yet he’s nutmegged Fergie and Chief Executive David Gill to within an inch of their lives. Or rather, his agent has.
Just through expressing pretend dissatisfaction with the club’s ambitions, Rooney has managed to secure a pay rise that’s double his existing wages. The threat that he was going to move to another club has blackmailed the hierarchy into accepting what is almost certainly going to be one of the last crazy contracts, due to fairness rules coming in next year. Rooney’s agent has played an absolute blinder, manipulating the situation and then pulling the rug out from under expectations.
Was Wayne really prepared to leave? Maybe. But it’s looking increasingly like it was an inspired game of brinkmanship, and Ferguson capitulated. After kicking Beckham and Stam out at the first sign of insurrection, he’s allowed Rooney to question the way the club is being run, with no consequences. It’s not like him. Is it just that he’s getting old and the fight is going, or is it that he realises his squad hasn’t got the quality that it once had? Rooney is arguably his only world class player, and his loss would have been potentially devastating. No matter how the situation is dressed up, I can’t help but feel that Sir Alex has given in to player power.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Manchester United fans react to today’s news. I wonder what the 40-strong mob who staged a protest outside Rooney’s house on Thursday night, dressed in balaclavas and hoods, think now. Have they won, or have they been taken for fools? I suspect that opinion is divided. Rooney, sleeping on his bed of money, has some serious PR to do.