NewsFeed thought it had seen everything in soccer. But Wayne Rooney doing a complete u-turn and signing a new five-year deal with his club Manchester United has just blown our mind. (Via BBC)
Describing it as “good news” (which is possibly the sporting understatement of the century), a statement on the Man Utd. website said the deal follows “intensive discussions.” The manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, said, “Sometimes, when you’re in a club, it can be hard to realize just how big it is and it takes something like the events of the last few days to make you understand. I think Wayne now understands what a great club Manchester United is.” (See more on Rooney.)
As for the player himself, the 24-year-old (who turns 25 on Sunday, the day of United’s next game), said, “In the last couple of days, I’ve talked to the manager and the owners and they’ve convinced me this is where I belong. I said on Wednesday the manager’s a genius and it’s his belief and support that have convinced me to stay.” It’s thought that he’s now become the best-paid player in the history of the club by agreeing a deal thought to be worth as much as £180,000 ($283,000) a week.
Speculation (such as pieces like this) will be rampant over the weekend as to just what prompted this extraordinary decision. A cynic might claim that he had no intention of leaving but that this was the best tactic to push up his pay packet. Yet over the past couple of days, the situation seemed at breaking point, with the club and player weighing up their options. A possible move across town to arch-rivals Manchester City wasn’t out of the question, which, make no mistake, would have been one of the most contentious transfers in soccer history. During Utd’s Champions League game Wednesday night, an anti-Rooney chant could be heard from the fans. And last night, a mob of between 20-30 fans turned up outside his home to voice their disapproval (even for English soccer fans, this was a tad much).
More details will surely emerge before Sunday’s game at Stoke City, which the player is thought to be missing through injury. Rooney is keenly aware that there is yet more p.r. work to be done with the Old Trafford faithful before they accept him as one of their own again. “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,” he said Friday. “The fans have been brilliant with me since I arrived and it’s up to me through my performances to win them over again.” (See pictures of soccer.)
But just because he’s signed a new deal doesn’t make him immune to leaving. Sir Alex Ferguson could still sell him if an astronomical offer comes in or if his private life is deemed too damaging for the Utd. brand. It’s often said in soccer that no player is ever bigger than the club. Rooney has given that well-worn cliche a literal run for its money.