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Sunday, October 31, 2010
United keep reputation intact
In his latest exclusive interview with Eurosport, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger discusses how important it was for Manchester United to keep hold of Wayne Rooney, and what would have been at stake for the club if he had left.
Were you surprised that Wayne Rooney is staying at Manchester United after the media talk?
It is a bit surprising because when you say publicly that your player is likely to leave, it means you have accepted the idea that he will do so.
A message to say: 'Come around the table, we are ready to sell the player.' So it is a bit surprising that they changed their mind.
It seems that United became aware of the consequences for the fans and the atmosphere inside the club if he did leave - especially considering the rise of Manchester City. It would have given them the reputation of being a declining club in comparison to the upwardly-mobile Citizens.
Afterwards, they had to take into account the impact signing Rooney to a new contract would have upon them, because it is going to be a big financial change. It means they have let Rooney have what he wants - and they are also going to be in trouble when it comes to renewing the contracts of the other players.
So the club's reputation was at stake?
When you let everybody know that you allowed your best player to leave at 25 years of age, rather than 30, it means that somehow there are clubs stronger than yours.
When you sell a player, you must consider what you are losing; the player himself, of course, but in addition all the consequences for people who follow the club. By that I mean the media, fans, the club's reputation and the indirect effect upon the other top players at the club, who may think: 'If the best players are leaving, what we are going to do now?'. So everyone at the club could start worrying.
Could the deal have been done in order to sell him for more money next June?
That is a really good question. However, if they sign him to a new contract for five years then sell him in June, it will be worse than if they had let him go now.
Were you convinced he was going to leave?
Yes, because when the club said they would talk about a transfer, I assumed they were ready to sell him.
If he had left, do you think it would only have been for another English club?
No, I think he might have moved anywhere in the world. Surely they would have been more open to a foreign club coming in for him than an English one - because the only domestic rival who could afford to buy him was their neighbour.
Do you think that he had to leave, considering the public opinion about his problems outside of football?
No, because people are focused on what happens on the field. What happens in a player's private life only feeds the scandal pages of the newspapers.
If you are 12 years of age, you only look at his performances on the pitch. You like him because he is able to do things you cannot do - and you want to copy him. You don't care about how he is living off the pitch.
Can he change the opinion of United fans?
Trust me: in this job, the only thing which changes everything is your performance on the pitch.
You could be the nicest, most elegant and polite guy in the world off the pitch - but if you are bad on it, everybody is going to hate you.
You can be unpleasant off the pitch, but if you are an extraordinary player, people will forgive you anything. It may not be fair, but it is the reality. People pay to see special things, and if you manage to give it to them, they enjoy it.
Would you have liked to sign him for Arsenal?
We never thought about it because we have enough people able to play up front. Moreover, if Manchester United are not able to pay his contract, Arsenal cannot even think about it.
So it means that he will keep scoring against you as he did in the past?
No, it doesn't mean he will keep annoying us - it just means that he will keep trying to annoy us. We will try to prevent him.
He likes to score against Arsenal.
Yes. He is world class player.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Sir Alex, Can We Have the Full Rooney Story Now?
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: October 20, 2010
Filed at 6:59 p.m. ET
PARIS (AP) — Do they sell paper handkerchiefs at the Manchester United store, sufficiently absorbent to soak up even the biggest crocodile tears? Given Alex Ferguson's newfound dramatic talents, we'd be wise to order a box.
For a moment, with his hangdog look, United's normally steely manager almost — almost — had us believing the script that portrays him and his club as the spurned victims in what can now justifiably be called the Wayne Rooney Saga, Part I.
"We're as (sigh, shake of head) ... We're as bemused as anyone can be because we can't quite understand why he'd want to leave," Ferguson said in his 6½-minute command performance Tuesday that can't be called a news conference because he took no questions.
Like all good actors, Ferguson is hoping that his audience will forget about what is going on behind the scenes.
His claim that he can't understand why Rooney would want out of the club that turned him into a megastar can only mean two things: Either Ferguson is being sparing with the truth or he hasn't been asking his striker the right questions. Ferguson is a persuasive man. So it's hard to swallow that he couldn't, with a flash of his famous temper or a quiet chat over a bottle of those vintage wines he's so fond of, get Rooney to open up about his motives.
If Ferguson is to be believed, then Rooney's salary demands aren't why he wants out. Ferguson isn't giving the full financial details. Nor is there any reason why he should. But he says United was prepared to offer Rooney "the best terms possible for any player in the country."
If true, that suggests United would match or better any offer from the likes of Manchester City or Chelsea, clubs whose billionaire owners shoulder some blame for the upward spiral of wages in the Premier League. Although Ferguson is among those who have griped about the inflation and said he isn't prepared to spend with such abandon, he seemed to be saying that United would make an exception for Rooney, because "we realize and recognize the quality of the player."
But if this is solely about money and if United's pockets aren't deep enough, would Ferguson admit that? Likely not. The club insists that Ferguson has cash for players if he needs it. Ferguson has toed that party line and been loyal to the American owners who have saddled United with 750 million pounds ($1.2 billion) of debt. If interest payments are eroding his player budget, then Ferguson isn't prepared — at least not yet — to become the club's first whistle-blower, the one who says that United's means no longer match its always huge on-field ambitions.
Likewise, if Rooney is disappointed that Ferguson still hasn't replaced his former strike partner Cristiano Ronaldo with other stellar players of his quality and feels that United cannot compete for trophies as a result, then we should not expect the manager to tell us that story, either. Doing so would inevitably circle back to the question of United's finances, handing ammunition to agitated fan groups who charge that the owners are weakening the club.
If Rooney's ambitions to win trophies are driving his threat to leave, then perhaps Part II of this saga could be a promise to him from United that it will recruit top players in the next transfer windows. If it cannot do that, Rooney should not solely be blamed for wanting out. Mediocre United performances this season aren't simply because Rooney has been poor but because the whole team no longer looks as strong as it once was.
On Wednesday evening, more than 24 hours after Ferguson gave his version of events, Rooney finally broke his silence. He blamed United's penny-pinching on its squad.
"My agent and I have had a number of meetings with the club about a new contract. During those meetings in August I asked for assurances about the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world," Rooney said in a statement. "For me its all about winning trophies — as the club has always done under Sir Alex. Because of that I think the questions I was asking were justified."
As to Ferguson's insistence that he and Rooney haven't fallen out — "I've not had an argument with Wayne Rooney at all, at any time," the manager said — well, again, he would say that, wouldn't he? If his famous man-management skills have deserted him, as they also did with David Beckham before he was sold to Real Madrid, then admitting that would invite questions about whether it is time for Ferguson to make way after 24 years in charge at United.
And questions are one thing Ferguson doesn't want.
"I can't answer your question or any question about why he is doing it," Ferguson said of Rooney. "You can speculate, we could have opinions, it won't matter a dickie-bird, simply because the player says he's adamant he wants to leave."
Better, then, to paint "the player" as the villain in this pantomime. By stressing how much he and United have done for Rooney, which included shielding him earlier this season when British tabloids reported that he paid prostitutes for sex, Ferguson suggested that the 24-year-old is biting the hand that feeds him and which transformed him from talented teenager with a volcano's temper into one of world soccer's biggest names.
"We've done everything we can for Wayne Rooney, since the minute he's come to the club. We've always been there as a harbor for him. Any time he's been in trouble, the advice we've given him. I've even been prepared to give him financial advice, many times," said Ferguson, playing the bruised father figure.
Is Ferguson as "shocked," ''dumbfounded" and "very disappointed" as he says? Perhaps. It wasn't all an act. And with good reason — because United would be a poorer side without its marquee player.
If it comes to that.
It may not.
But one thing we can be sure of is that there is more to this saga than Ferguson is letting on.
Wayne Rooney has treated red shirt like a rag... Old Trafford always had enough ambition to keep Sir Bobby Charlton happy
Wayne Rooney has treated red shirt like a rag... Old Trafford always had enough ambition to keep Sir Bobby Charlton happy
The red shirt that has been worn with such pride and ferocity of competition by Duncan Edwards, Denis Law, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona and David Beckham has been treated like a oily rag by Wayne Rooney.
Imagine the reaction, too, of Sir Bobby Charlton, great player and now the great ambassador of the United cause, upon hearing the swaggeringly arrogant statements from the money-obsessed Rooney machine.
Did this great football club ever fail to satisfy his ambition or his bank account?
How can Rooney play for United and Ferguson again after the arrogance of his statement yesterday evening?
No respect: Rooney has treated famous red shirt like an oily rag
If Ferguson's emotions were troubling him the day before, how would he have reacted yesterday tea time, hours before a European encounter, as Rooney's statement was played out across the airwaves?
A day earlier, in one of the function suites deep inside Old Trafford, disappointment at the ultimate betrayal was etched deep into that familiar face.
Best’s Euro medal sold for £156,000 (less than Wayne wants a week)
I will tell you this, though. Do not write him off. If his rivals are hoping this will be the breaking of the great man and part-time racing owner, they are backing the wrong horse.
Rooney has disgracefully turned his back on his manager and mentor; a football warrior who has transformed the young forward from a teenage prodigy into a global superstar.
For the first time in his seemingly tyrannical epoch at Old Trafford, many will have felt a twinge of sympathy as Ferguson revealed the scale of Rooney's gross self-interest.
But it is not pity Ferguson will be seeking as he deals with the greatest crisis at Manchester United. There are only two choices for any man who looks as dismayed as he did at the moment he was forced to give up on the most gifted player in the land.
He can either walk away or meet the challenge head on. Everything in this man's life has been a preparation for this moment. From his rise from hardship in Glasgow's Gorbals to the summit of club football, Sir Alex has been forged in steel. Give up? He would sooner jump into the Clyde.
If anything, Rooney's treachery will prolong, not terminate, the longest tenure in football management. Time to rebuild a team again, to see off the uprising of the noisy neighbours and restore United to their recent glories.
Sir Alex would be as inhuman as many have tried to depict him if he were not hurting at this moment.
He has supported Rooney through all manner of tribulations, both those on the pitch and in the bedrooms, where the player has jeopardised his marriage and the image of a great club.
Cups that cheer: and there are sure to be more to come for Ferguson, even without Rooney
For this wealthy young man to sell out all that concern and attention for just more surplus cash is almost tragic. For him to claim his transfer demand is down to a lack of ambition is insulting to the great men who have walked the boards at the great Theatre of Dreams.
It leaves the manager, who has been a father figure to him, with the task of rebuilding his team yet again.
Yet the need for that reconstruction, enormously difficult though it is, will render Ferguson unable to leave even if he wanted to. As he sets himself to deal with this prospect, the warrior spirit will surge through him yet again.
As he rationalises the impending loss of Rooney in the January transfer window, he will be wishing he had sold him in the summer.
Clearly, this disturbance has weighed on the team as they have dropped points in draws surrendered from leading positions.
No doubt Ferguson believed it was worth trying to talk Rooney out of a decision which he may well come to regret. Respectfully, he left the door open for Rooney to have a change of heart. That door was slammed shut last night.
There is no turning back now. It will be the future which now commands the manager's attention.
Ferguson has been required to adapt his managerial style down the years. He has gone from hairdryer to intensive carer and financial counsellor.
Although he has despaired at times of the disruptive influence of the agents, his good old-fashioned values of respect and decency have guided him through as he has come to terms with the corporate footballer and all his millions. That transition has kept United at the forefront of the game, and further adaptation to the kind of self-serving mentality now symbolised by Rooney will be required.
Theatre of dreams: Old Trafford has always had enough ambition for legend Si Bobby Charlton
Fortunately for United, the grandfather of all managers is 68 going on 50.
Ferguson would have preferred to decide himself the moment of Rooney's departure.
Yet he will see the symbolism of George Best's European Cup winners' medal being sold yesterday at auction for £156,000, which is less than the weekly wage which Chelsea or Manchester City will have to offer Rooney now.
The motivation to prove that the lad upon whom he lavished so much attention would have been better off in football terms remaining at Old Trafford will be irresistible.
Every trophy Ferguson and United win will remind Rooney of the day he walked away. Not big enough for Rooney? Maybe not big enough for his head.
But there will be life after Rooney. Ferguson will see to that.