Well Played Sir Alex: Rooney Saga Will Benefit Manchester United In the Long Run

Whilst the fall out from the Old Trafford saga is still fresh and painful for all concerned in the long run Ferguson has pulled off a masterstroke.

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Can Roo believe it? Rooney is staying at Old Trafford, for now.

The dust is gradually settling on one of the most spectacular football stories in recent years. Following the will he-won’t he pantomime inflicted by Cristiano Ronaldo upon Manchester United just over a year ago, Wayne Rooney announced this week that he too wanted out of Manchester United.

The former Everton front man, who turned 25 this Sunday, claimed the club “did not give him any of the assurances he was seeking about the future squad”.

It is hardly a well kept secret that Manchester United, who are in debt to the tune of £716million thanks largely to the take over of Malcolm Glazer, probably can’t afford to dramatically invest in the squad for the foreseeable future. In fact, the only players that have moved into Old Trafford lately are Chris Smalling, Gabriel Obertan, Bebe and Javier Hernandez.

Whilst the latter enjoyed a successful World Cup, the formers hardly have pulses racing in the Premier League.

So when news spread that Rooney may be interested in a move to Eastlands and Manchester City, who by contrast have ambitiously signed many of the worlds so called top stars in recent years, such as David Silva, Carlos Tevez and Manu Adebayor, some angry Manchester United fans went as far as threatening the England ace with death.

For if United were to sell their prize asset to hated neighbors City that really would prove that Rooney was right, and that the club simply do NOT have ambition. How could anyone think any differently? Even the most ardent of United fans would be alarmed that first Ronaldo, then Rooney had left the club.

If this had been allowed to happen, it would only be a matter of time before Manchester City put United in the shade after two decades of dominance, and United would be without a truly world class player – and make no mistake about it, despite the stark fact that Rooney hasn’t scored from open play since March, he is still every inch a world class act.

Losing another player to City, after Carlos Tevez recently went the other way, would have been humiliating. Even if United had managed to refrain from selling to City, Chelsea were rumored to be rustling up a bid of £25million.
Selling to them would have been title-race suicide.

Whichever way you look at it, Rooney leaving United was bad news, probably the beginning of the end for United’s title hopes.
However, just when it seemed nailed on that Rooney was on his way to either London or further across the road in Manchester, news broke that Rooney had astonishingly signed a fresh 5 year deal at United, making him the highest paid player in the Premier League, taking that mantle from Yaya Toure of Manchester City in the process.

So was Rooney wrong after all? If Manchester United can afford to retain and make one of their players the highest paid in the Premier League, does the controversial American owner Malcolm Glazer have ambition after all?

The only way Manchester United can prove that they still have the ambition to remain the biggest club in world football is to loosen the proverbial purse strings. Sir Alex Ferguson is believed to be reluctant to spend in January, claiming prices are over-inflated, so any potential transfer signings at Old Trafford probably won’t happen until the summer.

Since the whole Rooney saga exploded into the media, United have been linked with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder and Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko.

Manchester United may now have to sign at least two of those players to sate Wayne Rooney’s ambitions. But how likely is this, for a club steeped in debt? Has Wayne Rooney actually convinced the owners to finally invest in the squad, something that fans have been clamoring for since Cristiano Ronaldo jetted off for Madrid, or is this all just an elaborate ruse?

Manchester United fans should react with caution with this news. It might appear to some that Ferguson triumphed in keeping his man, that he single handedly battled off the baying clutches of Manchester City, and that Rooney is now perfectly happy and content that his club have ambition after all.

But I think there is more to it than that. A situation such as this does not resolve itself in two days, surely? Not even at a club like Manchester United.

Cristiano Ronaldo was only one year into a brand spanking new 5 year deal at Old Trafford before he knocked on the managers door intent on leaving, and he got his way sure enough. Whilst Rooney’s deal technically ties him at the club until he is 30, and probably the rest of his playing career, that does not mean that he too can’t leave as early as summer 2011.

Contracts these days aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Player agents greedily whisper in their clients ears and manipulate them into a change of heart. That is the way football is today. Had Rooney left Old Trafford in January, it would have been for a basement bargain price. There was even talk he could leave United massively short changed and buy out his own contract.

Now that he is tied up on a long term deal, his market value has rocketed through the roof. Whilst he may have gone for £20 million in January, he will now most likely be worth treble that. Have United tied the player up for the rest of his career or have they watched their own backs and ensured that, should he leave next summer, he will do so for a fair price?

Or even more sinisterly, have United agreed to let him go in a years time, as they did with Ronaldo? Ronaldo was talked into one more year’s service at Old Trafford before getting his transfer after all.

Whichever way you choose to look at it, the Wayne Rooney saga will probably benefit United either way. If his signing on for five years is a genuine pledge, then United have a terrific player for five more years, and will have to finally sign new players in the process. If he does choose to leave next summer due to lack of signings, it will be for a much higher price than United would have received this January.

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