Saturday 27 August 2016

Even 50p-a-second men can only find true worth from within

Published 01/03/2014 | 02:30

Wayne Rooney hands over a coin thrown from the crowd to referee Michael Oliver at Selhurst Park last week
Wayne Rooney hands over a coin thrown from the crowd to referee Michael Oliver at Selhurst Park last week

So here I am trying to do the sums. Wayne Rooney, who signed a new contract, is on 50 pence per second. It's not that much, if you think about it. Sure if you give a child a tenner for a birthday, he or she would be richer than Wayne Rooney for any given second, by 20 times.

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Back in the boom, kids would be highly insulted if you gave them the bare tenner. I heard one man rebuke his friend with, "don't insult the child with a 20".

Money was being flung about like spaghetti at a western and it still is, but only in soccer. It could be that soccer balls will become as worthless as tulip bulbs back in the days of the Dutch bubble.

For sure if the fans turn away from paying big money to several TV companies to watch so many boring games, there will be a collapse.


Wayne's agents struck at exactly the right time. Manchester United desperately needed to keep him as much to attract other big names as for his own skills.

Is Rooney worth it? The answer is easy. If United win all around them, the fans will say, "cheap at twice the price".

We were at United for the Spurs game and Rooney ran and tackled harder than any player on the pitch.

To be fair to him, it's more than money. Rooney takes pride in his performances. He had better watch out, though, or the Public Accounts Committee will be after him.

Billy Morgan coached UCC to another Sigerson Cup last weekend. Billy is driven. Players take to him. He's very honest and loyal but most of all he understands the game and he genuinely likes young people.

He'd have done a good job with Manchester United. Glasgow Celtic wanted Billy back in the days when they were winning European Cups, but the greatest GAA goalkeeper ever stayed with Gaelic football and Cork.

You'd think then that with players on anything from 10p to 50p a second, they would play their best, irrespective of who the manager happens to be.

Our guess is that's the view of most of you, but players can turn against their manager if they don't get him. The fact is they all have this sheet of paper they carry around with them as a shield.

David Moyes has a contract too but for him you sense it's all about pride in his ability to manage a big team.

He is a decent man. I never liked pundits who call for other men to be sacked from their jobs when they are patently incapable of doing their own, but maybe United should have hired Jose Mourinho. He would have been able to get the best out of even the poor misfortunes on 5p a second. Morgan has it and so does Jose. It's called presence. Some actors come on from the wings and they fill up the entire stage. Small men can seem huge and make far bigger men seem small.

We all respond to people we respect and admire. There is a key to every human being and the enigmatic need a safecracker. What I can never figure out is, how is it clubs pay players more than managers, when the manager is clearly the most important person in the organisation? Sir Alex was worth more to Manchester United than the sum of his greatest players.

Pitches all over the country are waterlogged right now. Managers march up and down sidelines willing their teams to win. They are frozen, windswept and drenched. Blood pressure bursts veins and a loss puts them in bad form for the week.

What drives the managers then? There's no money in it for the most of us. Is it glory or ego? Public service, the love of the game and club, or a chronic dose of vainglorious megalomania? Maybe it's a mix of all of those components.

Billy Morgan has a core belief. He has been backed up by Dr Con Murphy, who knows more than anyone about what it takes to be successful in sport.

The Murphy-Morgan mission statement is to make their players into better men. All else follows on. The problem with Manchester United and every other pro team is the 50p men will get the 50p elsewhere.

As a general rule in the GAA you are a club man for life and the only way you can transfer is to move county.

So there's the advice that will save Moyes – and if his players do not want to become better men, send them off to another finishing school.

We'll go back to the sums, though. I take the pencil from over my ear. Come to think of it, it's very hard to keep a pencil under your ear. It would be easier to ride a steeplechaser with the saddle on his belly.

Yes, Rooney is earning more than I am per second, every second. I'm in good company.

Rooney was earning far more than Sir Alex when he was in charge, all those weeks ago. Managers come and go but they leave a mark on all of us.

Many years ago when I was very young, I was advised to give up Gaelic football and take up soccer. The coach said, "you have very small hands, too small for football," but then reassuringly added, "with dem little hands, you'd make for a great vet."

The same man wouldn't train ducks to swim. The country is full of managers who rob us of our confidence. The secret is to generate power from within, even for 50p-a-second men.

Irish Independent

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