Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Rooney quitting United is a sign of the times

Fitba, bloody 'ell!
So we've now heard from both protagonists in this extraordinary story. Wayne Rooney confirms he wants to leave Manchester United; and Sir Alex Ferguson is left baffled, bemused - and helpless.

But the 24-year-old striker, on £90,000 a week, well short of the riches of his Chelsea peers, Lampard and Terry (both on £150,000), claims it's nothing to do with money.

Players are just pieces of meat - and I'm hungry.
Rooney just doesn't believe United can compete for the best players anymore. He's witnessed Carlito and CR07 leave for United's biggest rivals - and as the club buckles under the weight of a reputed £750m debt, Wazza's transfer request is a stunning vote of "no confidence" in United's future.

Sir Alex, the one-man winning machine doesn't view it like that. He sees the culmination of his life's work in the majesty of a 75,000 all seater stadium, palatial training facilities and a conveyor belt of trophies.

But Rooney's view is shorter term: having won three of Fergie's dozen titles plus the Champions League, he can't see victory being sustained at the same level.
"Shoulda nicked it, I'll never see it again!"
This is a massive blow to morale at Old Trafford - because it's partly true.

The club is profitable - but the debt noose round its neck is tightening - just as Manchester City come to the fore with their lavish spending. And despite new economic realities, Real's spending power remains unreal.

Former United skipper Roy Keane described players this week as "pieces of meat, nothing more - and when your time's up, it's up", hinting that Rooney had every right to look around for the best deal he could.

Fergie's already planning for the future without him - his programme notes for the Champions League game talked of Chicharito's finishing power and the quality of Berbatov. Not a word about Rooney.

But he's genuinely rattled by this, and even at 68 with all his experience in management, this is the first time he's not in control of a sit-ye-ashun.

Football, bloody hell!


  1. One of the biggest changes in football during the last decade has been the diminishing power of the manager.
    When Bobby Robson was the manager of Ipswich in the 1970s, he insisted on being paid more than any of his players. Such a demand would be unthinkable today.
    I’m not naming names, but it’s certainly in the interests of agents for their star clients to move from time to time because they get a cut from the deal.
    Brian Clough once said: "If a player had said to Bill Shankly 'I've got to speak to my agent', Bill would have hit him. And I would have held him while he hit him."
    Cloughie said that roughly 20 years ago. How would either he or Shankly cope in today’s game?
    The personalities of the players themselves undoubtedly presents a problem. If a lad is worth millions and millions of pounds at just 19 years of age, it’s bound to go to his head in a lot of cases. They live in huge (often tackily decorated) houses, have more cars than they know what to do with, and are constantly surrounded by sycophants. They live in a bubble most of us simply cannot comprehend, and I include any successful business people reading this. The manager is the only person who is ever likely to tell them something they don’t want to hear (such as that they’re playing badly, not trying hard in training, or have an attitude problem).
    Sir Alex won’t change. You either do things his way, or you leave. Actually, I suspect most of the Manchester United squad are fairly level-headed guys when compared to other big clubs. I get the impression the scouts look at their personality and their state of mind as well as their ability. It keeps the big-headed ego maniacs away from the crowd. The real Cristiano Ronaldo is actually a well-read, cultured man, which may surprise some people.
    Brian Clough used to advise his players to marry when they’re young and not to leave it too long before having children. He rightly understood that if his players were settled in their lives away from football, it would have a positive impact when they were at work. How would he have handled the absurd world in which many of today’s leading players live in?
    The other big challenge facing today’s leading managers is the problem (and I use that word deliberately) of the wealthy, foreign owner. Too many of them fancy themselves as managers for my liking. They interfere with transfers too often, and implement changes the managers don’t agree with. Rafael Benitez said in his press conference yesterday that things only started to go wrong at Liverpool when the American owners started interfering with his job, doing things like employing fitness coaches he didn’t want.
    Wealthy, foreign owners, with no emotional or cultural connections to the clubs they are buying, often treat their jobs as a giant game of Championship Manager. I, personally, would only work for them as a manager on one condition: I would agree not to tell them how to run a business, and they would have to agree not to tell me how to manage a football club. There can only be ONE boss. Jose Mourinho learnt that the hard way. So did Benitez. Sir Alex could be about to learn the same.
    He is a man who learnt the management game under the ‘old rules’. He was in charge of the football club, nobody else. He has managed to maintain that principle remarkably well, until now. Make no mistake, his authority has well and truly been challenged with the Rooney episode.
    Are Manchester United in decline as a force in football? Quite possibly. I don’t think they’ll win the Premier League this season. Sir Alex’s ability as a manager will mean they have a very real chance of lifting the Carling Cup, FA Cup and yes, even the Champions League this year. I don’t think much of their defence, and their much-publicised lack of buying power means they won’t win the Premier League, but the extent of their decline has been grossly exaggerated. Let’s just see where they are at the end of the season before jumping to conclusions.

  2. As for Rooney himself, it’s time he got real. There’s no way Manchester United are going to sell him to a rival club in this country in the next 18 months. Besides, I don’t think Chelsea will be throwing too much cash around from now on. Looking further afield, Real Madrid have made it clear they won’t be buying in the next transfer window. He has a few options left, but not many. Maybe he fancies living the sort of vacuous existence David Beckham has at LA Galaxy. How does lining up alongside Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes in midfield compare to life in LA?
    I’d advise Rooney to think very carefully about how he wants to spend the next 18 months. The way things are going, he could well end up spending them in the reserves if he’s not careful. I think he’s made a colossal mistake by getting on the wrong side of Sir Alex. However, due to Rooney’s sheer talent, Sir Alex has held out an olive branch on this occasion. I suggest he grabs it before it’s too late.

  3. I quite agree, Marcus. Rooney has made a huge miscalculation about his prospects of playing at anywhere better than United.

    He's also shown a level of disrespect for Fergie, who simply commands it in spades.

    Like I said in the first piece I wrote about this: Rooney should go into the manager's office, eat humble pie and apologise for this.


Got a comment on my Soccermongery? Write away right away!