Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: The Decision UK

Was it the 'angry mob' outside his house, was it a solid pitch from Sir Alex and the Glazers (Manchester's newest man-band) or was the whole thing just a big spectacle put on by Wayne Rooney in an effort to line his pockets?

That’s what we’re all left to wonder after the struggling Manchester United striker signed a five year, £65-million contract extension with the team, days after slamming the club’s ambition and stating publicly that he wanted out.

It’s not often you see such an about-face from a professional athlete – from public contradiction of his manager to poorly timed statements to the press, Rooney made it seem as though nothing could be done to keep him at Old Trafford. Then all of a sudden he signed on the dotted line, apologized and declared the he “care[s] for the club” and “will give 100 percent.”

In what could easily be likened to a British version of “The Decision,” the much criticized one hour special where LeBron James told us all where he’d be playing this season, Wayne Rooney’s actions of late haven’t done much good for his reputation. Obviously he’s a talented player, but who expected such a fuss from a guy who hasn’t actually been on the field much and is yet to score in 12 games this season, following an underwhelming performance for England at the World Cup?

Before you get on me about his injury troubles along the way, don’t forget that Rooney himself kicked off a lot of this controversy by saying last week that he hadn’t been injured all season, and he didn’t know what his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was talking about!

From those contradictory statements, he went on to publicly refuse to sign a new contract, publicly declare his time at Man U to be over after his current deal, and then publicly state that the reason he wanted to move on was because the team wasn’t doing enough to build a strong team around him (buy up as much available talent as possible).

Maybe, in a way, it was a test of the Glazer family - the team’s American owners, and public enemy number one to a lot of United fans.

How can the Glazer’s and Manchester United afford Rooney and a bunch of other superstars though? The team apparently lost £83.64-millon ($134.5-million) this season alone, despite a record profit of £100.3-million ($161.3-million). So to recap: Despite huge profits, they still managed to rack up a gigantic overall loss, partly because it’s reported that about 40 percent of their revenue goes straight to debt payments…

What does that tell you about the club’s finances?

If it tells you that (somehow) they can afford to make Wayne Rooney the highest paid player in the world at $402,190 a week, while being able to afford other high-end talents to place around him, you’re seeing something I’m not! I don’t know many businesses that are well over a billion dollars in debt and are quite happy to give out a weekly raise of $257,400…that said, I’d like to personally know a business like that.

So who are these big-name players that will pull on the red, black and yellow of Manchester United alongside Wayne Rooney?

Bookie William Hill has the odds-on favorites as Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema or Liverpool’s Fernando Torres, followed by Atletico Madrid’s Diego Forlan.

Here are my thoughts on the matter – if he intended to stay, he should have just done the hard line negotiations thing behind the scenes. If he’s good enough to make more money than the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimovic (number two and three on the ‘top paid’ list), he would have ended up making that money anyways. These guys aren’t stupid – they understand that top players demand top dollars.

I’m also a bit confused by the reasons behind his threat to leave – it’s been widely reported that he didn’t feel like he was making enough money and wanted his weekly cheque to be in the £200,000 range; but then he also spouted this nonsense about the team not being ambitious enough with the signing of new players. Well, which was it?

I suspect that he didn’t want to come off as a total prat by moaning over a raise of about £110,000 while hundreds of thousands of regular-person jobs were being cut by the British Government - so instead he tried to portray himself as a man betrayed by the club he loves, a club that no longer shares the all-out passion for winning that burns deep inside his soul.

It sounds quite noble – like something you’d find in a sports-themed harlequin novel – but the fact that a massive paycheque changed his mind in an instant makes me think it was never about the team around him.

Manchester United will always be good, because for whatever reason they are able to spend freely despite their horrid financial situation. To me, it was never about ambition.

Then again, what do I know?

Other Reaction:

The Daily Mail says Rooney could still walk away if United don’t follow up on their promise to bring it some heavy hitters.

The BBC talks to a publicity agent who calls the whole thing a “PR disaster” for Rooney, who has seen mostly negative headlines now for months.

According to The NY Times, Rooney has a long way to go to ‘spin’ this into a positive in the eye of the public and fix the quite poor reputation he’s earned this year.

The Guardian says Rooney’s “disrespect to fans and teammates” won’t be forgotten.

No comments: