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Astronomical deal exposes Man United's fall from grace

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Wayne Rooney joined Manchester United from Everton in 2004

Wayne Rooney joined Manchester United from Everton in 2004

Wayne Rooney joined Manchester United from Everton in 2004

You have to hand it to Wayne Rooney – and Manchester United just have, in astronomical terms – because the England forward certainly knows how to play the money game to his advantage.

He has a five-and-a-half-year contract to stay at Old Trafford until close to his 34th birthday and he will be paid £300,000 a week to remain in the No 10 shirt.

Not for bad for a player who, 12 months ago, was hurtling towards the exit door following the breakdown of his relationship with Alex Ferguson.

Then, Ferguson would have sold Rooney to any club willing to offer in the region of £25m.

But the fact that United and Rooney have made up to the extent that he has committed the rest of his career to the club is remarkable.

It is also, perhaps, a sign of United's fall from grace, given the reality that Rooney had few better options elsewhere.

The contract is a victory for Rooney and his adviser Paul Stretford, who has persuaded United to make the forward England's highest paid footballer for a second time in four years.

It is also a big win for David Moyes, who has successfully defused the ticking time bomb left behind by Ferguson by turning Rooney around.

But while Moyes' stock has risen with Rooney signing, United have acted because they had to.

Ed Woodward, David Gill's successor as United's dealmaker, admitted last year that the club were ready to wait until this summer before taking a view on Rooney and that there was even the possibility of allowing him to run his contract down to become a free agent in 2015.

That was then, but this is now and from being the champions last summer and the dominant force in English football, this season has seen a dramatic change of landscape with United now struggling.

The end result is that Rooney, like in October 2010 when he used interest from Manchester City to spook United into handing him a lucrative contract, has taken advantage of the club when they have been at their weakest.

United now need Rooney more than ever. They need his name and reputation as much as his goals and the player knew this.

Losing Rooney would have been a huge blow to the club's prestige, so they had to get the deal done, while Rooney has realised that, however much the club may be in transition, he was not going to get a similarly lucrative and lengthy deal elsewhere. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent