Rooney in peace pact after U-turn
Wayne Rooney's final act prior to signing a new £41.6m five-year contract at Manchester United was to apologise to his team-mates and Alex Ferguson for the "hurt" caused by his threat to leave Old Trafford.
An apology to the club's supporters is also expected ahead of his next appearance in a United shirt -- likely to be against Manchester City at Eastlands on November 10 -- as Rooney begins his road to contrition following a tumultuous week of uncertainty, acrimony and, ultimately, reconciliation.
After abandoning contract talks earlier this season because of concerns over the club's ambition, Rooney performed a dramatic U-turn on Friday morning. He chose to commit himself to a contract worth a basic £160,000 per week plus incentives, which could mean he earns in excess of £200,000 per week should United win the Premier League or Champions League.
Speculation that Rooney's camp had inserted an escape clause in the contract has been dismissed by United. Rooney's 25th birthday tomorrow might not be the joyous affair it perhaps should be in the wake of his victory at the negotiating table. The player's actions this week, and those of his representatives, have severely dented his reputation among the club's fans.
There are also bridges to be rebuilt within the dressing-room following Rooney's public doubts about United's ability to compete for major honours.
And despite welcoming Rooney's decision to extend his contract to 2015, Ferguson admitted that the club had been left feeling bruised and hurt.
The manager said: "He has apologised to me and the players and I think he'll do that with the fans, which is important, because we've all been hurt by the events of the past few days.
"I always feel it's a quality in a person when they say they're sorry and realise they've made a mistake. That happens, particularly with young people, and I admire that. The job now is to put it behind us, get Wayne back on that pitch and get him playing the way we know he can play.
"I think Wayne has had second thoughts and realised the enormity of Manchester United. Once all the publicity came out, particularly the impact and response from everyone about how big Manchester United is, I think that resonated with Wayne quite a lot. He has had second thoughts and wants to stay."
United's fears that City were primed to lure Rooney from Old Trafford in January accelerated their attempts to persuade the player to stay once his disaffection became public earlier this week. City had been prepared to offer Rooney a deal in excess of £250,000 per week to move to Eastlands and the spectre of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan looming in the background led to the player being castigated by United supporters.
And with police being called to clear an angry mob from outside his house on Thursday evening, Rooney conceded that events had been difficult to bear, despite him insisting he was right to raise his concerns over United's direction under the Glazer family.
Rooney said: "It's been difficult for me and for the club as well, but I felt I had to get my point across. As a player, I care for the club and I had some concerns.
"But once it (the contract refusal) all came out, it looked as though there was nowhere to go. That was it. But the manager made it clear that the door was still open for me to sign and that's when I spoke to my agent. I said: 'Let's go and sit down and get it resolved.'
"We went in and spoke to the manager, the Glazers and to (chief executive) David Gill. I am glad that we sorted it out. The talks with them have confirmed that this is the right club to be at and that I will be successful and continue to win things.
"There were other things I wanted to air and then I was happy to move forward and sign. It has been very complicated. It's about the football club and my career. I had to think about it very hard, but I am just delighted that it's over and we can put it to the back of our minds."
Rooney admitted, though, that his relationship with the club's supporters had been damaged.
Fans displayed anti-Rooney banners during the Champions League clash with Bursaspor on Wednesday, and the player was also subjected to derogatory chants, but he insisted he was ready to work towards rebuilding his bond with the supporters.
"I am sure the fans have been upset after everything they have heard, but my message is that I care for the club. I just want it to continue to be successful.
"Some fans may not take to me again very quickly. It may take time, but I will give everything. I will give 100pc and try to build that relationship back. I hope we can work together and win trophies."
Rooney's decision to stay is a major victory for United, particularly with the nightmare scenario of City snaring their prized asset, a genuine one.
And Ferguson insists that the club's success in retaining Rooney's services underlines their ability to continue to compete for major honours.
"You look at Wayne's record since he's been here; he's won three titles, the European Cup, three League Cups and the Club World Cup. But what's happened in the last couple of days is a lesson to everyone of how big Manchester United is," he said.
"We have put it behind us, though, and that is the important thing. The lad has made an apology to us, and he'll apologise to the fans. No one is jumping ship, everyone is on board now, and we push on now and we'll see the real Manchester United." (© Daily Telegraph, London)