Rooney contract saga leaves a sour taste
Wayne Rooney may have done a giant U-turn and signed a new deal with Manchester United, but TEAMtalk's James Marshment is less than impressed. If a week is a long time in politics, then 24 hours is, apparently, a lifetime in football if the Rooney saga is anything to go by. Our first reaction in the Towers to news that United's talismanic striker had done a complete U-turn and opted to sign a new contract was one of complete shock. However, it seems - on the surface at least - that the whole thing was nothing more than an elaborate con from Rooney and agent Paul Stretford to generate an enormous pay rise for his client at Old Trafford. Having covered this saga all week, it's felt at times that there hasn't been anything else to talk or write about. Never mind the fact that Liverpool's manager is on the brink, or Gareth Bale produced a San Siro masterclass - it's all been about Rooney this week. The column inches that Rooney has generated both in the written media and on the internet has been staggering - but then you'd expect no less given the profile of the player and the age we live in, in which our top footballers (for some reason) are put on a pedestal alongside rock gods and royalty. But to say I feel cheated is an understatement. The whole saga absolutely stinks. In my mind, whichever way you look at it, my opinion of the bloke has gone drastically downhill. OK, Rooney will not care one jot about yours truly, but I think his attitude may well have got the back up of several of his United team-mates, who not only have seen a number of half-hearted displays from him over the last six months, but who have also had to speak out about his attitude and criticisms of the club. Another statement that cries out from this week is that of player power. So, just how much of it does Rooney command at Old Trafford? Let me get this right: He threatens to leave so the club reacts by jumping to ridiculous heights in a bid to get him to stay? OK, so I have not really got a gripe with United for doing this - any club in the world would want to hang on to their best players. But just two days ago, Rooney was questioning the club's "direction" and ability to "attract the world's top stars". So what has changed since then? Well, unless I've blinked, I don't think I've noticed United bring in Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. So either it comes down to pure greed, and the story of his frustration at the club this week was nothing other than an eloborate ploy to earn him a giant payrise. Or did Rooney - having questioned the direction the club was heading in - sit down with Ferguson on the quiet and tell him which players to get shut of, and whom to bring in during the next transfer windows? Today's Paper Talk says Ferguson is planning to axe 10 first-team players from the squad this summer - did he get some help from Rooney assembling that list? Either way, the whole saga stinks to high heaven and I, for one, have not been best impressed with Rooney, his agent - or the power the game's top players now clearly hold in the game.
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