Friday, 22 October 2010

Rooney stays. Sir Alex Ferguson, take a bow.

SO Wayne Rooney stays at Manchester United. After an eventful week, Sir Alex Ferguson can happily walk out on to the steps outside Old Trafford and take a deep bow.
In the single sweep of a pen, the 67-year-old has managed to come out of one of the toughest periods of his 25-year reign smelling of bright red roses. And a red-faced Rooney gets rid of the for sale signs less than 48 hours after saying he was off.
Not only has Sir Alex persuaded Rooney and his agent Paul Stretford to settle for something a long way short of their hoped-for £250,000-a-week, he has also backed the owners into a corner.
The Yankee-doodle Glazers, who have reduced United to bit-part players in the big picture with their huge interest repayments, had no choice other than to agree to Rooney's demands for a pay rise nearly two years before the end of his contract.
And the unspoken reassurance is this: United are still a world class club, despite those Glazer debts.
Rooney will probably be on around £170,000-a-week, though we may never learn the full details of this shiny new four-year deal.
But we can be sure it's some way short of Yaya Toure's Manchester City pay packet. Sheikh Mansour has promised him what amounts to £220,000-a-week if City finish in the top four this season and earn a place in the Champions League for the first time.

Ultimately, Rooney has had to compromise. With FIFA and UEFA promising a salary cap, Stretford was hoping for that dreamt-of best-in-the-world million pounds a month.

Instread, Rooney will be tied to United long after Sir Alex has finally reached for the pipe a slippers. And if he attempts to leave before June 2015, the transfer fee will be exorbitant. Somewhere in the £60m bracket.

Sir Alex said: "I told the boy that the door is always open and I'm delighted Wayne has agreed to stay.

"Sometimes, when you're in a club, it can be hard to realise just how big it is and it takes something like the events of the last few days to make you understand.

"It's been a difficult week, but the intensity of the coverage is what we expect at Manchester United.

"I think Wayne now understands what a great club Manchester United is.

"I'm pleased he has accepted the challenge to guide the younger players and establish himself as one of United's great players. It shows character and belief in what we stand for.

"I'm sure everyone involved with the club will now get behind Wayne and show him the support he needs to produce the performances we know he is capable of."

With Stoke to come on Sunday, Rooney is now required to produce the kind of performances United fans enjoyed last season rather than the routine fare we have been subjected to during and since the World Cup.

Rooney himself released a statement saying: Rooney, 24, added: "I said on Wednesday the manager's a genius and it's his belief and support that have convinced me to stay. I'm delighted to sign another deal at United.

"I'm signing a new deal in the absolute belief that the management, coaching staff, board and owners are totally committed to making sure United maintains its proud winning history — which is the reason I joined the club in the first place.

"I'm sure the fans over the last week have felt let down by what they've read and seen, but my position was from concern over the future.

"The fans have been brilliant with me since I arrived and it's up to me through my performances to win them over again."

Given that mobs were forming outside his house last night and death threats had been made against him, Rooney really had no choice.

The winner here, without question, is Sir Alex Ferguson. Whether Rooney can respond with goals and peformances is another question.

One small query I didn't have time to raise on Sky News this morning: Just how will Rooney's team-mates respond to this undeserved pay-rise, which will make him the best-paid player in the history of a club which has fielded such luminaries as George Best, Bobby Charlton, Bryan Robson and Eric Cantona?

We shall find out on Sunday...

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