The day before Manchester United was set to make their return to Selhurst Park, where in 1995 United legend Eric Cantona had karate kicked a Crystal Palace supporter after being given his marching orders, forward Wayne Rooney signed his name into United and Premier League history by agreeing to a new four year contract that makes him the most expensive player in England’s top football league.
Additionally, this solidified his longevity at England’s most prestigious club and could see him finished out his career on the red side of Manchester.
Prior to him signing, the future of the former Everton forward had been the subject of immense speculation over the past year, especially with his tumultuous relationship with former manager Sir Alex Ferguson. On Friday, Rooney finally put that to rest, but it raises the question, was re-signing Rooney the best move for United?
First and foremost, if Rooney had left this past summer, United would not have his statistical contributions this season (9 assists and 10 goals in the EPL), and as a result, United would not be sitting in sixth place, five points behind Tottenham. The team would be farther down the table and the club would be criticized for letting him leave. The team might not even be in the knockout stages of the Champions League if not for Rooney’s two goals and three assists in Europe. These factors reflect the productivity and success Rooney brings to the team.
In addition to his productivity, the Liverpudlian forward has been the face of the club since Cristiano Ronaldo departed for Real Madrid. He’s kept them in contention for trophies year after year, and he single-handedly led virtually this same contingent of players to their third Champions League final in four years and scored their only goal in a 3-1 loss to Barcelona in 2011. The amount of pressure he has had on his shoulders has been exponential and yet, he has delivered each time he has been called upon.
Despite being one of United’s best goal scorers since his transfer from Everton in 2004, his tenure at United has not been without controversy. On two separate occasions, he has ostracized himself from the fans and the club.
The first was during the 2010 season, in which he helped them get to their third Champions League final. In the fall of that season, he publicly questioned the club’s ambitions and even threatened to move to rivals Manchester City. This turned a lot of fans against him and since, he has been trying to regain that lost respect. The second was this past spring when Ferguson announced that Rooney had asked for a transfer. Rooney and his agents denied submitting a formal request, but the damage had already been done.
Regardless of the past, this season Rooney seems to be content with the club and its ambitions. His decision to stay speaks volumes, which could be foreshadowing for the future. There has been a predicted mass clear out to take place at Old Trafford once the summer transfer window begins, and the fact that Rooney has decided to stay could foreshadow some major signings to be headed to Old Trafford. The addition of Juan Mata is a prime example.
Manager David Moyes has already announced Rooney’s involvement in their transfer business, and in addition, the Scottish manager has said that Rooney is the top candidate to inherit the captain’s armband for next season, which is good news because he might be one of the only veteran players left. Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, and Ryan Giggs are expected to move on from the club. His captaincy will have a positive impact on the players because of his work rate on the field and now, his commitment to the club.
Rooney’s decision to stay also serves as motivation and an example of loyalty to the younger players, such as Adnan Januzaj and Jese Lingard. Despite this difficult transition period, the fact that the club’s best player decided to stay and keep bringing success to the club will encourage them to remain at the club as well.
So was this a good move for Manchester United, that Wayne Rooney signed a new four-year contract? The answer is yes. He has been a complete player for United, knows what it takes to not only be successful at the highest level, but he also knows how to lead by example. He is a world-class talent that will attract more world-class talent. And by signing this new contract, he is showing his loyalty and commitment to the club’s future.
On Saturday, Rooney celebrated his new contract, along with Robin Van Persie, in which both forwards scored in a 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace. It was United’s first victory on the road in 2014 and more importantly, a potential preface to their Champions League tie against Olympiakos on Tuesday.
After the victory at Selhurst Park, Rooney told reporters, “I just tried to do well for the team and to help us win. Whether I’ve signed a new deal or not, I always try and give 110% on the pitch and that’s what I did.”
It’s a new chapter in Manchester United’s illustrious history, and Rooney and Moyes will be the architects of its stories.