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Wayne Rooney – Reformed Red or Ransom Reaper?

5 goals in 5 games, a contender for goal of the season, a great strike against the current champions, big games coming thick and fast, surely this all adds up to the reprieve of Rooney?  Fans are fickle.  One scissor kick against the noisy neighbours and all of a sudden, Rooney is God again.

I, like any other red was out of my seat; screaming, jumping up, punching the air and witnessing my blood pressure going through the roof when that moment of theatre occurred, the ball like a homing missile nestling in the top corner for, one of if not the greatest goal seen at Old Trafford.  But is that one strike really enough to mend the heartbreak that Rooney caused by handing in a transfer request in October?  Not for me.  Not by a long shot.

Rooney was rampant last season, racking up 34 goals in all competitions.  Following the departure of Ronaldo, we needed Rooney to step up and he didn’t disappoint.  He was absolutely deadly and had also developed immensely in that his heading was greatly improved.  He was the focal point of Utd; the superstar, the talisman and the one who everyone would look to for inspiration or a moment of genius when it was most needed and he very rarely failed to produce.

Such was his importance, Fergie took a massive gamble by starting him in the return leg against Bayern at Old Trafford despite the serious looking ankle injury he had sustained in the 2-1 defeat in the first game.  The script read that Rooney had amazed doctors by making a miraculous recovery, such was the temperament and character of the man.  The announcement created an aura around Old Trafford.  This was unbelievable news and we suddenly felt invincible.  2-0 up inside of 7 minutes, the atmosphere was electric.  Simply the name ‘ROONEY’ appearing on the team sheet and being heard over the tannoy had lifted this team to within touching distance of the last 4 of the Champions League.   Rooney himself was largely ineffective, substituted after 55 minutes, he had cut the figure of someone playing with an injury all night.  That however was irrelevant.  It was the galvanizing affect he had on his team mates and the crowd that was priceless.  In the end, Bayern deservedly went through following Rafael’s red card and Utd’s bubble had burst.   Defeat to Chelsea 4 days earlier would ultimately cost us a record 19th league title.

The point of this was that Rooney symbolised all that was great about Utd last year.  The determination, the attacking flair, team spirit and loyalty.  Loyalty, what a word.  Never again can this be used to describe Rooney.  Despite being a scouser, Rooney was an adopted Manc.  He was seen as Utd through and through despite his Evertonian roots.  Talk of Rooney going to Real Madrid was always laughed off as an impossibility.  He told us he wanted to emulate Giggs and Scholes and stay at Utd for the rest of his career.  He fed us the line that he loved the club and for this, we loved him back.  Love makes you do crazy things.  Believing Rooney is one of them.  It is not like he didn’t give us a hint of his true colours with his ‘Once a blue, always a blue’ t-shirt for Everton before moving to Old Trafford.  The defiance broke Everton hearts.  This could be dismissed by Utd fans as the fact that Rooney wanted to win trophies and maximise his potential which he would never accomplish to the same extent at Everton.  The large pay rise was merely a by-product of the move.  How naive we were.  Footballers are children; the more you give them, the more they will want.  The game is over-run with greed and gluttony and the modern day embodiment of this is Wayne Rooney.

Despite his well documented troubles; sordid sex secrets, high profile red cards playing for England, diving accusations, on-field petulance (I could go on), Manchester United and especially Sir Alex had always stood by their man.  In the 2009-10 season, the club reaped the benefits of this show of loyalty with Rooney performing to a level only bettered by Lionel Messi.  The ‘parent’ role played by Sir Alex in aiding Rooney’s development as a player and as a person seemed to be paying off a treat with Rooney appearing on the back pages of the paper for moments of genius rather than the front for moments of stupidity.

Rooney decided to thank Sir Alex in his trademark acrimonious way by slapping him in the face.  Not literally but judging by the slumped, embarrassed demeanour of the usually unflappable boss, the pain created in October last year was much more severe.  This was the pain of rejection.  The pain caused by wretched Rooney and his ungrateful attitude.  These were the actions of a unappreciative, rapacious and reckless child.  A spoilt brat.  Somebody who did not appreciate just how fortunate he was to be playing the best game in the world for the greatest club in the world, idolised by millions and being paid an absolute fortune for the privilege.  How many people would give their right arm for the opportunity to pull on the famous number 10 jersey and walk out in front of a packed stadium of 76,000 adoring fans?  Not just Rooney but footballers in general have lost the grace and common touch required to be true, working-class heroes.  The humble persona that exudes grace and nobility is noticeably absent from today’s game.

Coming from a humble background, it can be seen that Rooney has kept some of his attributes – he is still bullish and fierce and possesses a ‘me against the world’  trait which has inevitably helped him to develop into the player he is today.  The virtues which have been lost however are the most important in the development of the character and personality of the man;  loyalty, modesty and acting in an unpretentious way.  Rooney’s snobbery towards Utd made me feel sick.  He claimed his reasons for handing in that transfer request was that he felt Utd didn’t have the same ambitions as some of their rivals, namely City as we hadn’t gone out and spent the Ronaldo money.  Rooney apparently felt that we would get left behind our rivals so instead of making him more determined to drive Utd on, he wanted out.  Not only was this extremely poor timing (on the eve of a Champions League game against Bursaspor) and incredibly selfish, it was also absolute garbage.  Why not come out and say this during the summer when it was obvious we weren’t going to spend big?

The Rooney saga boiled down to one thing and one thing alone, money.  Both Rooney and that weasel Stretford knew that by dropping hints about moving to City, the Utd hierarchy would panic and cave in to a bumper new deal.  Low and behold they were right and Rooney can now boast a weekly wage which is equivalent to what most of us would earn in 10-15 years, approx £250,000.  An astronomical figure and although it was advertised as a success for the club as we had managed to keep our star man, the fact of the matter is that Rooney had won.  He had held Fergie, Gill, the Glazer family and the club to ransom and got exactly what he wanted out of the whole ordeal.

But just how was Rooney allowed to get away with this act where so many greats had failed before him?  The unwritten rule of Old Trafford is that if you fall foul of Fergie, you are gone.  Simple.  No-one player is bigger than the boss or the club.  Look at Kanchelskis, Stam, Beckham, Ruud, Ince and even Roy Keane to name but a few.  All had got on the gaffer’s wrong side and were promptly shown the exit door.  So why not Rooney?

The fact of the matter is that if Rooney would have been allowed to go in January, say we would have got £25 million for him due to his contract situation at the time, this money would be invested to repay the clubs interest rather than bring in new talent.  Fergie knew this and was clearly fearful that should Rooney leave, especially if he went to City, the consequences for Utd would be dire.  Look at the performances of Tevez since joining the Blues.  He has been a completely different player to his time at Utd.  If Rooney was to join him and form a deadly partnership, that would be too much for Utd fans to bear.  Also, Rooney had carried us last season.  Berbatov hadn’t yet started to live up to his billing.  We had let Wellbeck out on loan.  Owen was still as injury prone as ever and we had an untried striker in the Premiership in Hernandez.  Fergie made the decision that for the best of the club, we needed to keep hold of Rooney irrespective of his pampered needs.

Who am I to question Fergie?  However, in my opinion, this was wrong.  As soon as any player comes out and says that they want to leave the club, for whatever reason, they should be sold at the earliest opportunity for the maximum amount possible.  If somebody does not want to wear the shirt, why should they be afforded the privilege when there are millions of others who would jump at the chance?  Fergie did this with Ronaldo.  He convinced him to stay another year then got £80 million for him.  Unless Rooney is sold in the summer for mega money, Fergie has failed.

Look at Liverpool.  As soon as it became clear Torres didn’t want to be there, he was gone.  No regard for the stature of the player or the repercussions for the club; they got rid of a want away star.  Granted they had the money to go out and spend but this decision still took courage.  I would rather see an 18 year old kid playing his heart out for the club than any of today’s overpaid prima-donna, prancing show ponies.

The fact that anybody can hold their employers to ransom for a pay rise is unheard of in society, so why should football act as a separate entity?  If I went to my boss and demanded more money, threatening to leave, I would be laughed at and promptly shown the exit door (and that is in no way a reflection of my job abilities.)

Rooney has come out and apologised for his actions and vowed to pay the supporters back by his performances on the pitch.  He has improved of late but still looks a shadow of his former self.  He plays as though he is frustrated and his celebrations after the goals against City and Chelsea reek of an arrogance and need for self-proclamation rather than achieving for a club he is supposed to love.  The love affair is clearly over.

Manchester United is the greatest club in the world and last season Rooney was electrifying.  Whether the shambolic World Cup, the sex scandal publicity, playing with injury, the ear-gnawing of a money-driven agent or the pressure of the industry caused Rooney’s ultimate fall from grace, these are all excuses and deter from the real reason, Wayne Rooney.

He needs only to invest some of that £13 million salary in a mirror and take a long, hard look at himself.  Although his performances have finally started improving and the goals are starting to return, the agony and affliction caused by Rooney’s very public shunting of the club will never go away.  No matter how much regret, remorse and rue there may be from the Rooney camp, a broken heart cannot be mended.  They say time is a great healer but I am in love with Manchester United, not Wayne Rooney and for me, the betrayal is everlasting and unforgivable.

So what do you think?  Do you forgive Rooney?  Do you think he should be sold in the summer?  Would you prefer Berbatov and Hernandez up front?

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