Rooney has done United a favour
Published 21/10/2010 | 16:40
Wayne Rooney has done Manchester United a favour. It might not seem that way yet. To Sir Alex Ferguson the coldness of Rooney's betrayal in revealing he wants to leave Old Trafford is still stark and bemusing.
To the men who run the club's megastore Rooney's departure, so soon after Cristiano Ronaldo, will be akin to a double-dip depression.
To United's fans there is anger borne out of effrontery that anyone could reject so dispassionately and with such arrogance the club they love.
Yet when those feelings have passed it will become clear that Rooney's leaving provides an opportunity.
In fact, it could be just the jolt United need.
Take Ferguson, for example.
There may have been a bewildered and hurt air about the United manager as he spoke to the press this week.
But there was also a determination to assume control of proceedings. To take the high ground. To juggle the sensitive issue of leaving a gate open for Rooney to reconsider while attempting to lessen the impact of his departure.
Ferguson realises his famed 'hairdryer' tactics no longer get the job done in a world in which players such as Rooney can be arrogant beyond belief and rich beyond reason.
These days the players have all the power. They can demand fortunes and then rip up contracts almost at will. They can kiss badges one minute and the next run out on the club they profess to adore.
The old school in Ferguson abhors that, but at a club which still has mid-thirty somethings such as Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs on its books, Ferguson understands the days of the one-club man are at an end.
Yet those who say the Rooney issue might persuade Ferguson to speed up his retirement should think again.
There was certainly no hint of that this week. Ferguson may not have shown the fire of old, but behind the hurt there was a composed and calculating tone to his demeanour.
His acceptance of the inevitable, his determination to avoid it becoming a "saga," his resolve to "put it to bed" all spoke of a manager who was moving on. A man who was in charge.
A man conscious that swift and decisive action was necessary to protect the foundations of his empire.
There is no more determined man in the whole of football than Ferguson when the legend he has built over almost a quarter of a century at Old Trafford is put in jeopardy.
When asked about Rooney's accusations of 'lack of ambition' Ferguson swiftly pointed to the 35 trophies, if you include nine Community Shields, United have won during his reign.
There is no arguing with that, even though Rooney clearly believes that winning streak is at an end.
And that is where the Glazers come in. United's American owners may not understand the nuances of football, after all Malcolm Glazer, the patriarch of the family, has never been to old Trafford.
They have saddled United with more than £700m of debt and crippling interest repayments which mean they are no longer competitive financially with the Chelseas and Manchester Citys of the football world.
But if they are to make a significant profit when eventually they sell United, surely the recent takeover of Liverpool must have made them realise any such sale must be done from a position of strength.
Which means it is time to invest to accumulate. Time to find transfer funds for Ferguson to alleviate the leaving of Rooney.
Time to explain to United's fans, even the protesters with green and gold scarves, that they are not in it just to milk a great club for all it is worth.
Time to be present and responsible rather than silent and absent.
If Rooney's behaviour forces them into such action then for the future of the club that 'lack of ambition' barb might prove to be less of an insult and more of a result.