After months of suspense over the future of Wayne Rooney at Manchester United, the forward penned a new deal which will keep him at Old Trafford for further five and a half years on a weekly wage of £300,000.
Sir Alex Ferguson left the reins of management to David Moyes last summer, but not before publicly claiming that Rooney was intent on leaving the club. Moyes arrived at the club being full aware of the challenges awaiting him, none more difficult than convincing their star forward to commit his long-term future at the club who were on the brink of entering their most difficult phase in recent history.
Contrary to popular reports in the tabloids last summer, Rooney stayed on and became the only bright aspect about an otherwise boringly dull team trying to regain their lost confidence. By the time Moyes took charge at Carrington, Paul Scholes had already retired and Ryan Giggs’ role was more restricted to that of a mentor. Evra, Vidic and Ferdinand had reached the twilight stage of their respective careers and are likely playing their last season in a United shirt. Wayne Rooney, who joined the club as a young teenager from Everton, was the logical heir to them; the perfect footballer to guide the club through this transition.
The arrival of Juan Mata was argued by many as a contingency plan keeping in mind the doldrums surrounding Rooney’s contract negotiations. However now, it so emerges that Mata’s transfer was a statement of intent by the club and their manager; United were still capable of spending big and attracting the top talent.
Rooney’s refusal to sign a contract with the club citing their lack of ambition back in 2010 is still fresh in people’s minds. Although, critics’ construed that as a strategy to arm-twist the club into shelling out a heftier salary, there is no denying that the England forward has been worth every single penny the club has forked out for him.
‘I met with (chief executive) David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad, I then told him that I would not be signing a new contract.’
However, Mata’s signing for a club record fee from rivals Chelsea must have been a clear indicator of the club’s attitude going forward which played a role in Rooney’s decision to finally put pen to paper.
The club’s decision to overpay to secure his services has been both lauded and criticized; Manchester United were not just prepared yet to let him leave amidst this crisis they are in. With just over eighteen months left in his old deal, the fear of losing him to one of their fiercest domestic rivals for an average fee could reigned supreme as they handed him a blank check. United management did their homework alright; they are not overspending to keep Rooney since it would have taken a fortune to replace him anyway.
Whether his new contract can motivate the entire team to spur on towards the top four remains to be seen, his presence next season (especially with Europa Cup looming large ) could be invaluable to the squad.
Some have questioned the very timing of Rooney’s tantrums over a new contract, both now and then. He has somehow managed to find himself embroiled in a contract snafu every time the club is in a state of recovery; earlier when they were struggling to replace Cristiano Ronaldo and now after Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.
However, the fans have been very forgiving towards him. They forgave him four years back, and now. They realize that in modern football, love and passion cannot alone be motivation enough for a footballer to stay. And Rooney is well aware of how supportive the fans have been which was clearly evident in his first interview after signing the contract.