United: Rooney deal not a ploy to raise transfer price
Manchester United have dismissed suggestions that the club agreed to an expensive long extension to Wayne Rooney's contract to protect their own interests by raising his future transfer fee.
The club insist he will see out his new five-year deal and say there "is absolutely no chance" Rooney will agitate for a move from Old Trafford to Eastlands again next summer.
Some analysts suspect United paid over the odds to keep him so that Manchester City would need to hand over £50m-£80m rather than the £25m they might have expected to pay in January. With only 18 months left on his old deal, Rooney's value would have been reduced and United would have faced a bill of £30m-plus to buy a proven replacement.
United maintain the saga is over and that the willingness of the Glazer family to smash the club's wage structure to double Rooney's salary conspired with the player's growing sense of isolation to produce his screeching U-turn. Rooney is said to have been deeply unsettled by the hostility his behaviour had provoked among his fellow United players and by Alex Ferguson's insistence that he was making a calamitous mistake.
As his team prepared to face Stoke at the Britannia Stadium today, Ferguson was savouring perhaps his greatest diplomatic coup as United manager. He used carefully nuanced press statements and paternal pressure on Rooney himself to open him up to an improved offer from the Glazers. Some reports placed Rooney's new weekly wage at £230,000 but £200,000 is believed to be closer to the mark.
The team's season has yet to ignite, but Ferguson believes the resolution of the Rooney saga will provide a catalyst at Stoke. United have drawn five of their eight Premier League games and surrendered two-goal leads against Everton and West Brom.
Rooney misses the match with an ankle injury but Ferguson said: "We have to start making up ground quickly. We can only do that with everyone on board, with no one jumping ship. Then we can see the real Manchester United."
Rooney is believed by United to have developed his urge to move to City at the World Cup, where conversations about how much players are earning at various clubs invariably prompt restlessness when the tournament is over.
Paul Stretford, Rooney's agent, stood to gain most by moving his client across town or to Real Madrid but can still claim a notable victory over the Glazers, who were forced to pay far more than they intended when the player's new pay offer was first drawn up.
One cloud over the deal is that other senior United players will now see Rooney's astronomical salary as the new benchmark, and will adjust their own wage demands accordingly.
The onus for dealing with these raised expectations will fall first on the chief executive, David Gill -- another with a star rating from the Rooney negotiations -- but ultimately on the Glazers, who pay the bills in the shadow of a vast corporate debt.