Rooney new contract: A costly mistake
It leaves me feeling angry and confused that the proud nation of France is so often cruelly stereotyped as too willing to cave in to strong willed aggressive personalities with unreasonable demands. Context be damned as judgments are laid down condemning the ease with which Robespierre, Kaiser Wilhelm, et al imposed their will on the Gallic populace. How sad then that my pod-brother Frenchy has backed Manchester United to act in just such a fashion. How can such a talented young football writer possibly support signing up to five more years of the Rooney Stretford circus? He’s wrong. Here is why.
Rooney new contract: Keeping your best asset
If you really don’t want Rooney to stay at the club, I suggest you stop reading now and head over to Tom’s piece on the matter.
Many will agree with Tom and will refuse to accept the reasons why Manchester United have decided to give Wayne Rooney, more commonly known by haters as “The Evil Scouse Backstabber”, a new contract. However, I know there are some out there who will understand why the current Premier League champions, currently lying in 7th and 11 points behind 4th, want to keep one of their most important players.
The Costs of Van Persie
The arrival of Robin Van Persie at Manchester United in the summer of 2012 was a boon to the managerial fortunes of Sir Alex Ferguson. The Scot surely knew the 2012-2013 season was to be his last; the purchase of Van Persie then was his attempt to secure a champion’s golden handshake.
The Last Poacher
Despite a lively start to his Old Trafford career, Javier Hernández has seen his playing time diminish since a young Danny Welbeck made the step up to first team and Sir Alex hit the transfer lottery with Robin van Persie. Now, with Wayne Rooney staying put at Old Trafford and Shinji Kagawa close to the first XI when fit, the competition for places is very high up front.
In Defence of Wayne Rooney
For those who are familiar with my writing; you might well be surprised to see my name below the title. Let’s be blunt; I don’t like Wayne Rooney. I’ve never been much enamoured with him as a man and as a footballer I don’t feel he has progressed as he should. Despite those truths I find the circumstances of his expected departure to have cast an unwarranted shadow over an unquestionably successful Old Trafford career.
Times have changed. Football clubs, players and supporters are much different from the sport I fell in love with. The painting of ‘Wayne Rooney the baddy’ has been carefully orchestrated by the club and ably assisted by the fans. Fergie’s final act of mischief coincided with the unedifying spectacle of a player booed when receiving a Championship winners medal. The former we have become accustomed to but the latter really saddened me. On a day of celebration of a season and an era, a significant number of fans chose to voice their displeasure with an important part of the achievements they were revelling in. Wayne Rooney is the fourth highest scorer in Manchester United history. All of those goals came under Alex Ferguson. To not cheer was understandable given the immediate context, but to boo was an act of disrespect to the achievements of the entire team.
In early May I wrote a blog suggesting it might be best for Rooney too seek a new challenge and had commenters queuing up to disparage my argument and even question my allegiance to the club. Those very same critics are unlikely to be such staunch defendants of their ‘hero’ tonight. Momentum has swung to a point that even those who readily forgave his last treacherous act are in agreement that his services are no longer wanted. It is – it must be said – the perfect situation for the club. Instead of open revolt at the prospect of selling a prized asset at the peak of his career, they are being roundly congratulated with no little schadenfreude displayed at the shift in balance of power.
So why has Wayne become so reviled?
Could it be because of his morality? To dislike the man is understandable. I remain surprised that in 2010 a ill-considered rant against the England fans who insulted him drew more outrage from the masses than the reprehensible act of soliciting a prostitute whilst his wife was pregnant. United fans seem happy to draw a line between personal and professional conduct – as demonstrated by the adoration of Giggs. It could be seen as double standards to worship the adulterous Welshman whilst lambasting Rooney for similarly sinful acts.
Could it be then a lack of professionalism that so angers those who once supported him?
I’m not alone in being furious at his condition when returning after his 2012 summer. His relationship with Fergie has been marked by unexpected spells out the team where he has been punished for failing to conduct himself in a manner befitting a professional at the club. This is beyond dispute. The same can and has been said in the past of David Beckham, Bryan Robson and most famously of all George Best. Three men beloved of the United support despite their failure to curb ‘outside interests’ for the good of the club. The traditions of the club has been to support our players even when they have committed brainless acts which have left us deprived of their services for long periods of time (see Cantona, Ferdinand and Keane). In the context of being unavailable for the best part of a year, on reflection the reaction to our scouse number ten carrying a bit of summer timber was perhaps over the top.
Well then, surely it has to be greed?
In 2010 he successfully held the club to ransom and less than three years on he refuses to request the transfer we all know he wants for the sake of adding to his already considerable wealth. Nothing changes. Yet which doyen of financial fair play is Rooney trying to squeeze what he feels he is owed from? Our parasitic owners. Make no mistake, every action (or inaction) of the Glazer era has been driven by pursuit of money. The decision to cave in to Rooney and Stretford’s demands in that infamous week was can recognition of calculating that to allow him to move across town would potentially cause greater harm to the club’s ability to generate revenue. You need not plough through the annals of time to find examples of greed outweighing what would benefit on field performance. As I write this the squad are on the other side if the world, after yet another long distance flight, fulfilling meet and greets in an effort to flog brand United. Unlike the US tours we can’t even spin it as a worthwhile football exercise against fellow European giants. Our next opponents are severely weakened by the absence of Emile Heskey. Let that sink in a moment. Then consider the fact that our new manager and coach attributed their victory over United to the lack of foreign expeditions. How our new manager, looking at his intimidating early fixture list, must wish that he was spending his days familiarising himself with new players and surroundings in Manchester rather than photocalls by Sydney Harbour bridge. If we are disowning Rooney for being motivated chiefly by money, then we must be similarly scathing of our beloved club.
The current stand off is the result of one super rich, ruthless organisation seeking to cut the best possible deal for the club in the sale of one super rich individual. Both are trading unsubtle blows under the gaze of the public which does neither any credit. Once again we see a business masquerading as a sport. It has been an unfortunate subplot to my time supporting United that players who have served the club well have departed in ignominious circumstances. A case in point would be the departure of Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2006. Our number 10 had led us through the lean times, keeping us in contention through his goals alone as the weakest side of the Ferguson era struggled behind him. Yet when Ferguson – and the club – decided it was time to move him on it was conducted in a manner unbefitting a player who had given so much in a red shirt. In fact if Rooney had been a bit more clued up on his recent United history he would not have been so surprised by a surprise omission for the final home game of the season.
It could all be so simple; the player wants to leave, the club accept it would be best for all concerned. We should be acknowledging a player who has aided our clubs achievements but whose time has come to a natural end. Instead of an amicable, respectful parting of ways we instead have a messy divorce played out through media briefing. This has duly been jumped upon enthusiastically by some ‘fans’ who view football as a soap opera and Wayne Rooney as the arch villain. I won’t be sorry to see him go but nor will I celebrate the departure of a man who, on the football field at least, gave me such moments of pleasure.
Wayne Rooney’s Skyfall Moment
In the latest installment of the James Bond franchise, Skyfall, our tuxedoed secret agent finds himself confronted with some difficult truths. Early in the film his inability to subjugate an adversary forces his superior to make a decision which, when carried out, places our hero’s career in limbo. Upon his return to MI6 he is submitted to a stringent physical and psychological evaluation in order to assess his ability and readiness to return to the “field”.
Rooney will break records but can he follow Giggs?
Wayne Rooney is closing-in on goal scoring records for Manchester United and England and, at 27 years of age, needs just another 56 goals to overtake Sir Bobby Charlton to top the Old Trafford all-time striking charts. Judging by his scoring rate over the past few seasons, it’s a target he should be able to hit, but what does the future hold for Rooney beyond these milestones?
As his first touch becomes evermore precarious and unreliable when off-form, we’re told he’s not a young man anymore, and received wisdom tells us that football is a young man’s game.
Chicharito Deserves To Be A Regular Manchester United Starter
8th April 2010 was a day of stark contrast in Manchester United’s history. On the one hand, the Red Devils had just been knocked out of the Champions League the day after losing on away goals to Bayern München (a 3-2 win at Old Trafford proved insufficient to overcome a 2-1 loss in Germany) and on the other hand a virtually unknown Mexican striker, nicknamed “little pea,” was unveiled as a new Manchester United player.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernández Balcázar was signed from Club Deportivo Guadalajara (widely known as “Chivas”), arguably Mexico’s most successful team, for a reported fee of £6 million. At the time, he was unknown Mexican whose signing didn’t garner too much attention but in the years since there is no question that United’s scouts did a great job in plucking Chicharito from relative European obscurity.
United Need to Find a Reliable Penalty Taker
It goes without saying that Manchester United have several world-class players fitting the bill to be classified as reliable penalty-takers, namely Ryan Giggs, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
However, this (apparently) pleasant task has become a bit of a nightmare for the United faithful as of late, as the Reds Devils have failed to find the net 4 out of 7 times so far this season. The more positive side of such an equally dreadful and astonishing stat is that none of these 4 mistakes has proved costly for Sir Alex Ferguson troops.
In previous years, former Manchester United legends Dennis Irwin, Eric Cantona, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo were all terrific from the spot. They had very different personalities but when it came to take a penalty, all four knew how to do it properly. Every one of them missed obviously the odd penalty, but fans knew a penalty in United’s favour meant an almost secure goal.
The Summer of Javier Hernandez
In the summer of 2011, Mexico won the Gold Cup, CONCACAF’s biennial tournament, featuring nations from North and Central America and the Caribbean. Mexico won the tournament on the back of exciting attacking play from some very promising youngsters. Among them were Gio dos Santos, who scored a magnificent goal in the final against the United States, Andres Guardado, Efrain Juarez, Pablo Barrera, and one Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. Hernandez finished as the tournament’s top scorer, cementing his place as Mexico’s first-choice forward, capping an impressive year of goals that began against France in the World Cup and continued with Manchester United during the 2010-2011 season.
Having ended one month before the Gold Cup, Hernandez’s inaugural season with the Red Devils had been wonderfully scripted. The goals rained in for the Mexican forward, and his performances led to the downfall of Dimitar Berbatov, then the club’s leading scorer, culminating in the Bulgarian’s absence from the team sheet in that year’s Champions League final.
In stark contrast to his first season, Hernandez’s sophomore year with United lacked excitement- and optimism. Simply put, he could not find the back of the net. His overall play looked novice, cheap, and perhaps best suited for Sunday league play rather than the Premier League.
Danny Welbeck, resigned to the bench and on-loan in previous years suddenly looked like he would be the one replacing Berbatov alongside Wayne Rooney as United’s first choice attacking duo. Welbeck’s hold up play and seemingly telepathic understanding with Rooney only highlighted the weaknesses in Hernandez’s play.
Football is a game of “form”- those in form play over those out of form. Hernandez certainly looked like he’d lost his, and many wondered whether he’d be able to find it. During the 2012 summer transfer window, Sir Alex Ferguson brought Robin van Persie to the club, confirming what many already thought they knew: Hernandez was not to be relied upon to score goals at the rate he once could.
At the start of the 2012-2013 season, just over 3 months ago, Sir Alex Ferguson’s team looked like it would have room for only one true striker as the team would most likely play 4-2-3-1. That striker would seemingly be van Persie, and the subsequent performances he turned in (see: a lot of goals), confirmed as much.
Lost amidst the excitement of the transfer window, in which the Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa also joined the club, an observation from Sir Alex: “I think this season we’ll see a better Chicharito.” With this statement, Sir Alex both acknowledged Hernandez’s sophomore slump, and the effect that a summer of rest would have on the forward. “”For the last four or five years he’s played all through the summer. This year, with the co-operation of Mexico, he’s had a proper rest.” Could it be? How tired could he be? How much could one summer of rest benefit a young player like Hernandez?
The answers to these questions have been coming for a few weeks now, as Hernandez’s strike-rate reminds us of the glory days of his first magic season at the club. As eyebrows raised, concerned with whether United relied too heavily on van Persie, Hernandez brought them back down with intelligent performances against Chelsea in the Premier League and important goals in the Champions League. Today, against Aston Villa, he came on at the break and did what Messieurs van Persie, Rooney, and Young and Valencia couldn’t do- score.
But it’s so much more than that. His ability to move around the box and draw defenders who had previously looked like Maldini and Baresi out of position has no equal. Ron Vlaar, the Villa captain, had marshalled his defense to near perfection prior to Hernandez being bought on. The Little Pea’s intelligent movement, which took him to the wing, into the box, and saw him come deep into midfield left Villa’s defenders somewhere near lobotomized. Indeed, even Antonio Valencia began to run at and beat his marker, perhaps reminded by Chicharito that these were, after all, just men.
The goals were three, no matter what the dubiously named “Dubious Goals” panel says. The first a goal only he could score: the control awkward, almost comical; the defender hounding him, perhaps too closely; the keeper in excellent position to snuff out the threat. And the ball? Back of the net. The second? A volley, hit with conviction, glanced off a member of the Villa rearguard, leaving the defender with negative time to react. The defender? The aforementioned Maldin- excuse me, Vlaar. The third? A goal we’ve seen him score time and again. Never mind the execution. Never mind the intelligence in positioning and the perfect placement. This goal was a winner. Was it a header? Was it a tap-in? It was a winner.
Looking back on Sir Alex Ferguson’s comments, a summer of rest may just have been what Hernandez needed. He simply looks a sharper, stronger, better version of Chicharito mK I.