Friday, 22 October 2010

Player Power on the Wayne

Roo-turn: Rooney has signed a multi-million pound deal to stay at Old Trafford

So, the inevitable has happened. Wayne Rooney has thrown his toys out the pram and today managed to secure a new five-year deal at Old Trafford.

But, despite the recent circus surrounding Rooney, are the events of the past week in fact a victory for football, rather than a smash-and-grab job from Wazza?

Ian Holloway expressed his concern in a manner only he knows how on Thursday, but his emotional rant did highlight an increasing concern in the modern game: player power.

“If Alex Ferguson is being bullied by his player and his agent, how wrong is the game?” he said.

“Some say it’s unfair on the player – rubbish! He’s had his wages every week guaranteed come rain or shine, whether he’s injured or not.

“They bought him, they work with him – he belongs to them.”

But as Rooney looks set to stay at United for the foreseeable future, perhaps Ollie’s concerns are not as widespread as he would have us to believe.

The conclusion of this week’s events proves Sir Alex is still the master, that he and he alone decides the comings and goings through the proverbial door at Old Trafford.

Although this is arguably the most high-profile case of a manager biting back in recent times, there have been examples of players publically expressing a desire to leave, only to find the door slammed in their faces, and a large slice of humble pie to accompany their new contract.

In July 2005, weeks after captaining the side to Champions League glory, Steven Gerrard submitted a transfer request at Anfield.

But, in a similar twist to close-friend Rooney, Stevie G performed a miraculous u-turn and opted to stay with his beloved Reds.

The same could be said of Cesc Fabregas this summer.

After winning the World Cup, the Arsenal skipper made it clear he wanted to rejoin his compatriots at Barcelona.

But Fabregas’ expected move to the Nou Camp will have to wait for now, as Arsène Wenger, like Fergie, has shown who is boss and managed to persuade his want-away star to stay.

“I convinced him to stay. I am confident we will keep him for a few more years,” said the Frenchman, after rejecting two bids for his star man in the summer.

Dismissing the theory there is a gentleman’s agreement in place for his captain to return to his home city next year, Wenger said: “He deeply loves this club – if he did not love the club, he would have gone.

“You have to remember that Barcelona has an attraction because he grew up there, but I believe he wants to win with this club.”

Arsenal fans may well cite Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Real Madrid as an example of player power eventually coming to the fore to secure a desired transfer.

But in the time after Sir Alex managed to convince Ronaldo to stay in the summer of 2006, United won a further three league titles, a League Cup and a Champions League, before Ronaldo tottered off to the Bernabeu with the club’s best wishes.

If Cesc delivers the goods in the next couple of seasons, ending Arsenal’s six-year wait for a trophy, then he too may well leave with a pat on the back.

Rooney’s high opinion of himself to the extent where he feels he can pull a stunt like he has is surprising only for the timing.

He has so far failed to replicate the stunning form of last term, but one player who is currently scaling the heights is Tottenham’s Gareth Bale and, refreshingly, he remains grounded.

The Welshman hit a stunning hat-trick this week in The San Siro against Inter Milan, but refreshingly remains grounded on his future.

“I don't see a team in my mind that is not Spurs," said the former Southampton man.

“I don't have another club in my mind in Italy, Spain nor England. I am fine here at Tottenham.”

This must be music to the ears of the White Hart Lane faithful, and proves loyalty can prevail in an era of mercenary footballers.

Roongate is over, for now, but when football scholars many years from now look back on this protracted saga, they may well pinpoint this as a crucial victory for football. Let’s all raise a glass to Sir Alex.

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