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The Wayne Rooney saga.

news articleIt has been an eventful week at Manchester United with the emergence of a Rooney saga. Midweek, the club and the player both confirmed the striker's intention to leave the club before an agreement was reached on Friday. brings you a time line of the events as they occurred, detailing how both parties ended up in this situation.

Rooney Saga: The Timeline - Everything from Rooney's press declaration after the England v Montenegro Euro2012 Qualifier to the English striker signing a new 5-year deal with Manchester United.

12 October 2010 – England v Montenegro, Euro2010 Qualifier

In the aftermath of England's goalless draw with Montenegro at Wembley, a match in which Wayne Rooney failed to shine, the English star entered the mixed zone on his way out of Wembley stadium and made a declaration to the media.

When asked if his ankle had caused him any problems during the match, Rooney replied: "No, I've had no ankle problem all season.'' He repeated his denial when asked the question for a second time. Then when asked "Why did Alex Ferguson say you had?'', Rooney shrugged and replied: "I don't know.''

This statement came across as a dropped bombshell in the football world as by making such comments Wayne Rooney was openly contradicting Sir Alex Ferguson, and possibly suggesting that the Manchester United manager had been lying about Wayne Rooney’s form and fitness.

At this point let us go back in time and identify why Fergie had suggested to the media that Wayne Rooney was suffering from an ankle problem.

Small trip down memory lane – Rooney’s ankle problem

Rooney’s ankle problem began back in March 2010 during Manchester United’s Champions’ League quarter-final ties against Bayern Munich. Despite picking up an ankle injury on the 30th March in the first leg of the fixture, Rooney was deemed fit to play in the second leg. However, Rooney picked another knock during the return leg at Old Trafford, was substituted and Manchester United went on to lose on away goals.

From that moment, Rooney, who had until that point had an extraordinary 2009/10 campaign with Man United (he scored 36 goals for the Red Devils), would never find his top form again.

During the World Cup 2010, a competition during which all expected Rooney to shine, the English player failed to find the back of the net and was only a shadow of his normal self. Even when he began the 2010/11 campaign with Manchester United, Rooney was far from being at his best level.

During the first week of September 2010, he went on international duty for England and performed well in the qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland but headlines over his private life emerged between the two games.

Following these revelations, Sir Alex Ferguson chose to leave Rooney out of the 11 September 2010 fixture against Everton in an attempt to protect him and so “as not to expose him to that crowd.” (And possibly to punish him for his off-field antics). Rooney then played in the Rangers and Liverpool home fixtures before being taken off during Man United’s 2-2 draw at Bolton. After this match, Fergie said that Rooney had "a little issue'' with his ankle. Rooney did not travel to Valencia for a Champions League clash and Ferguson said before the game it would "be two to three weeks'' before he would be fit and described it as a "straightforward ankle injury''.

Things started to look a bit suspicious though when Ferguson decided to leave Rooney out of the game at Sunderland, saying at the time: "I have to take the view that this injury has been niggling away for a while and he kept on playing. I have to be dead sure that I am doing the right thing because Wayne has not been doing himself justice. I think in a week he will be fine. Obviously we don't play in a week, so it is up to Fabio Capello whether he wants him to.'

Capello decided that Rooney was fit to play, which brings us back to the England-Montenegro qualifier and Rooney’s comments.

However, despite challenging Sir Alex Ferguson’s statement in his comments to the press after the England-Montenegro match, Wayne Rooney did admit that he was struggling with his form. He said: "I felt better against Montenegro. You need the games to get your fitness in. I started the season, played a few games and felt I was getting sharp, and then missed three or four games so you don't feel as sharp as I thought I would do. Towards the end of last season I was injured but during the World Cup, I trained every session and had no problems fitness-wise. I think in this league you need to keep playing because, if you are not at full fitness, then it's difficult to break teams down.''

16 October 2010 – Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion, EPL Day 8

It appears though that Sir Alex Ferguson though did not appreciate Wayne Rooney’s rebellion. As a result, Wayne Rooney was only on the bench as Manchester United took on West Brom at OT while his wife Coleen and son Kai Wayne watched from the stands. The Red Devils started the match in electrifying fashion and they were soon leading 2-0. Things turned sour in the second half though as Man United quickly conceded 2 goals due to a couple of mistakes. With 70 minutes gone and the home team struggling to get another goal, “Rooney! Rooney!” chants emerged from the stands as the fans requested the introduction of the one who had time and again flown to Man United’s rescue thanks to his talent and brilliance. Wayne Rooney did come on a few minutes later, but other than a shot on goal from an indirect free-kick, there was not much he could do.

17 October 2010 – Rumours emerge that Wayne Rooney does not intend to sign a new contract

The day following the West Brom match, reports emerged in the media that Wayne Rooney had fallen out with Sir Alex Ferguson, that he did not intend to sign a new contract and that he could leave the club in January. Those same reports identified Manchester City and Real Madrid as possible destinations for the striker.

Later during the day, Manchester United issued a statement in which they dismissed all speculation that Wayne Rooney could be sold in the January transfer window as “nonsense”.

18 October 2010 – Manchester United/UNICEF Press Conference

Manchester United held a press conference in which they pledged to raise £1m over the next 3 years to help UNICEF in its fight to save the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable children. Journalists were hopeful to get a statement out of Sir Alex Ferguson regarding the Wayne Rooney situation, however such was not the case as the issue was not addressed.

Meanwhile, reports claiming that Wayne Rooney had told his teammates he has grown dissatisfied with his situation at the club surfaced.

19 October 2010 – Manchester United v Bursaspor pre-match Press Conference

Even before Sir Alex Ferguson walked into the room, you could tell something big was going to happen. Such was the atmosphere at the pre-match press conference on that day. Then Sir Alex Ferguson came and confirmed all the fans’ worst fear: Wayne Rooney wanted to leave Manchester United. In a poignant statement in which he looked hurt and crestfallen, Fergie described how he had learnt that Rooney wanted away.

"Wayne has intimated to me in his own way that he wants to leave Manchester United.
"David Gill had a talk with his agent at the end of last season and that was to be continued after the World Cup.
"Then David phoned and said it was bad news and Wayne's agent had intimated that he wanted to go. We're terribly disappointed because we can't understand it.
"I've told Wayne to honour the club's traditions and behave like a professional and we'll try to see it through.
"There's an offer there if he's prepared to accept it. David was prepared to offer him a contract that he couldn't get elsewhere.
"However the areas that has created a lot of the mystery about it is this issue with his injury. First of all, I must tell you, I've never had an argument with Wayne Rooney at any time.
"He went over on his ankle in the Rangers game and he was hobbling about. Because he wasn't playing well I wanted to leave him out of the Sunderland game so he could play for England, recapture his form and kick on.
"His entry into the mixed zone at Wembley has created another stage. He said he wasn't injured but I know fine well that he was. He needed treatment and he's had treatment.
"We've done nothing but help him at this club. Manchester United is that kind of club.
"We're as bemused as anyone as why he would want to leave a club that's won 40 major trophies, a platform for anyone. We don't understand it.
"The player has said he's adamant he wants to leave. We have to deal with the next part of that, his request.
"In my mind we still have the door open, but who knows?"

Sir Alex Ferguson also added that Wayne Rooney had been injured during training (from a Paul Scholes tackle) and that the striker would not feature in the Bursaspor match the next day.

The general reaction to Sir Alex Ferguson’s reaction was shock! Fans and journalists failed to understand why Wayne Rooney was refusing to renew his contract and why he wanted to leave the club. All asked for an explanation from the striker.

Through the chaos, other information seeped in. The first one related to the Webster’s ruling, which meant that if Wayne Rooney was not sold, the striker could end his contract early next summer under FIFA regulations - with United receiving only approximately £5m in return. The second information related to Everton and the fact that if Wayne Rooney was sold by Man United for an amount greater than the amount for which he had been brought in from Everton, then 25% of the excess amount would go to Everton.

20 October 2010 – Manchester United v Bursaspor, CL Groupstage, Matchday 3

The day began with everyone in the football world still in shock and wondering when Rooney would explain himself. There were also reports that Manchester City had offered Wayne Rooney £230,000 per week and that it was a done deal. Moreover it turned out that later in the evening, when Manchester United took on Turkish champions  Bursaspor, it would be Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2000th match as the man in charge.

Wayne Rooney did issue a statement finally, 2 hours before the kickoff of the Manchester United v Bursaspor match! In his statement he said:

"I met with David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad”
"I then told him that I would not be signing a new contract."
"I was interested to hear what Sir Alex had to say yesterday (Tuesday) and surprised by some of it"
"It is absolutely true, as he said, that my agent and I have had a number of meetings with the club about a new contract. During those meetings in August I asked for assurances about the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world.
"I have never had anything but complete respect for MUFC. How could I not have done given its fantastic history and especially the last six years in which I have been lucky to play a part.”
"For me it's all about winning trophies - as the club has always done under Sir Alex. Because of that I think the questions I was asking were justified.
"Despite recent difficulties, I know I will always owe Sir Alex Ferguson a huge debt. He is a great manager and mentor who has helped and supported me from the day he signed me from Everton when I was only 18.
"For Manchester United's sake I wish he could go on forever because he's a one off and a genius."

In short, Wayne Rooney put the blame on the Glazers.

Manchester United went on to win 1-0 against Bursaspor in a lackluster performance. It seemed that everyone, players and fans included, had other things on their mind.

In his post match interview, Sir Alex Ferguson gave an indication on what was to follow regarding the Rooney situation. The manager said:

"I haven't read the whole (Rooney) statement. We will consider it all on Thursday (21 October) because David Gill and I have a meeting at 10 am.
"David spoke to the owners tonight (Wednesday) which is important. What is really important is for us to put this to bed.
We don't want it to become a saga. I'm a manager who wants to win a game against Stoke City on Sunday. This is a bagatelle, believe me.
"The important issue is we have the team to consider, we have an important game on Sunday and that's going to be the end of it today. We will carry on and dismiss everything else.

When asked whether Wayne Rooney would be suspended until the opening of the transfer window on January 1, Fergie said:

"What kind of imagination have you got? We will put it to bed. Leave it to that."

When questioned about the club's ambitions and the ability to sign world-class players, Ferguson said:

"We will invest in signature players when the time is ready. This summer was not right for me. There was no value.
"There was one player (David Villa) we identified yes, but he didn't want to come to England.
"Some players don't want to leave their country but Manchester United is an attraction for players.
"In terms of the future of Manchester United there are a lot of things in our favour. History, the respect we have - if I told you how many agents phone me or email my secretary every week to say their players want to play for us - and not just run of the mill players, I am talking about players at almost every club in the world - it would amaze you.
"Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and think it's a better cow that the one you have in your own field. It rarely works out that way.

Ferguson added:

"The door is open as I said, we are that kind of club. We want to keep top players, particularly when they are young as Wayne.
"But if we carry on talking about an individual, dominating our headlines and all our thoughts, then we're not doing our job.
"Nipping it in the bud is the key to it and that's what we'll do."

21 October 2010 - The Ian Holloway Rant

While the media buzzed with the happenings of the previous days and Sir Alex Ferguson met with David Gill, Ian Holloway (Blackpool manager) came out with a rant in which he blasted football authorities for allowing the Wayne Rooney situation develop.

An impassioned Holloway said:

"I've got big problems with the people who are running football. I know the reasons I not have a Bosman ruling they've got at the moment.
"Manchester United have helped Wayne Rooney's career massively on and off the field. The manager, the club itself has invested in him. They bought him for massive amounts of money as a young man and they're helping him blossom into the player that he is.
"He's one of the best centre-forwards in the world. And if he sees his contract out he's going to be able to walk out of there for nothing. That's the people at the very top of the game's fault.
"Our rules were brilliant. If he was offered the same amount of money again, they could hold his registration and someone would have to pay the fair amount of money for him.
"Just because you're 24, what on earth has that got to do with it? It's just ludicrous. They have the power to change this straight away.
"What if he sits there for 18 months, throws tantrums, doesn't try, doesn't play, and someone's already said to him: 'We'll take you and we'll pay you some of that money we should have paid Manchester United because you can walk out on a free'?
"Do you want to sign a person like that? Do you want to play for a club that says that to you? How do we know it hasn't already happened? The game is wrong. The people in charge of the game are wrong. They are so wrong this is frightening.
"If Alex Ferguson is being bullied by a player and his agent, how wrong is the game? When are you [Fifa and Uefa] going to listen to the people who are involved in the game?
"They say it's not fair on the player. Rubbish. The player has had his wages every week. They bought him, they worked with him, he belongs to them. It's so obvious. The world should change if it's wrong and football should look at itself.
"I'm looking at Alex Ferguson and thinking: 'What a magnificent manager. How can he handle this?' How he feels about Manchester
United, how proud he is. Yet Wayne Rooney or his agent can now manufacture a situation like this."

Later on, Manchester United released a statement following after a day of meetings between chief executive David Gill, Sir Alex Ferguson and representatives of Wayne Rooney. It read:
“We are aware that there is intense public and media interest on the club at the moment, but there are no developments of note to report today. “I can confirm a number of meetings have taken place today, including with the player's representative. The outcome of those meetings will become clear in the near future. In the meantime, fans are asked to be patient.”

An incident occurred outside Wayne Rooney's house a couple of hours after Manchester United issued their statement. A 40-strong group of United supporters, many of whom were wearing balaclavas and hooded tops, had travelled to Rooney's home in Prestbury, Cheshire to warm him off any move to Manchester City. Witnesses reported a gathering outside the English star's house, with a banner reading "If you join City you're dead."

22 October 2010 - Wayne Rooney signs a new 5-year contract with Manchester United

On Friday, shortly after noon and against all expectations, Manchester United announced that Wayne Rooney had signed a new 5-year contract with the club.

In a statement, Sir Alex Ferguson said:

"It's been a difficult week but the intensity of the coverage is what we expect at United. I said to the boy that the door is always open and I'm delighted that Wayne has decided to stay. Sometimes when you're in a club it can be hard to realise just how big it is and it takes something like the events of the past few days to make you understand. I think Wayne now understands what a great club Manchester United and I'm pleased he's accepted the challenge to guide the younger players and to establish himself as one of United's great players. I'm sure everyone involved with the club will now get behind Wayne and show him the support he needs to produce the performances we know he is capable of."

Wayne Rooney also issued a statement in which he said:

"I'm delighted to sign another deal at United. In the last couple of days, I've talked to the Manager and to the owners and they've convinced me this is where I belong. I said on Wednesday the Manager's a genius and it's his belief and support that have convinced me to stay. The fans have been brilliant with me since I arrived and it's up to me through my performances to win them over again."


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