By Shamoon Hafez.
After seeing, and raising a wry smile at, what’s kicked off across the city with our former frontman Carlos Tevez, it led me to think how the fans would react if one of our players performed in such a manner.
Almost every home game, Old Trafford is packed to the rafters with fans supporting the team, in awe of their favourite players and feeling part of the Manchester United family.
The aficionados have been fortunate enough to experience so many trophy-laden campaigns over the years, seeing the team pick up maximum points at home nearly every week, this demonstrated by the impeccable record the club has at the fortress, the last defeat at home in the Premier League being against Chelsea in April 2010 and versus Besiktas in the Champions League in 2009.
But, things aren’t always bright and rosy at the Theatre of Dreams, as with everything in life.
What about the times when the gloom descends upon Old Trafford?
It’s almost a year since Wayne Rooney incurred the wrath of the Manchester United faithful by handing in a transfer request and looking to move on.
Rooney stated that: “He [David Gill] did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad. For me it’s all about winning trophies – as the club has always done under Sir Alex. Because of that I think the questions I was asking were justified.” The former Everton forward refused to sign a new contract and wanted to leave the club.
We probably won’t find out the truth as to why he took this course of action, whether he was actually unhappy and worried about the future of the club, if he had been ill advised by his agent or whether it was a cleverly planned ploy with his agent to maximise the weight of his wallet.
What we do know is that Rooney was suffering. He had had his private life splashed all over the newspapers and was out of form after the ankle injury sustained the previous season against Bayern Munich.
However, a few days later, in a spectacular u-turn, the gaffer and Wayne were pictured together, all smiles and hugs, maybe they shared a kiss as too, as it emerged that he had signed a new five-year deal.
The England international said: “I’m delighted to sign another deal at United. The fans have been brilliant with me since I arrived and it’s up to me through my performances to win them over again.”
So, as we approach the ‘anniversary of Rooney’s want away plea,’ has he fulfilled his promise to the fans, to us?
I was in the Stretford End against Bursaspor, the game after Rooney’s show of unfaithfulness and, I’ll be honest, was one to “boo” and heckle him, as were many others.
Why? Well, I felt betrayed by him. I felt after spending my hard-earned money to go along and support him over the years, he suddenly wanted to up sticks and leave the club, the fans that made him into who he is today?
Last season’s 16 goals in 40 games equated to his most meagre return as a Red Devils player and despite scoring in the 3-1 defeat to Barcelona at Wembley, still had a lot of work to do to be forgiven by the supporters.
And he has gone a long way to doing that with his blistering start to the season in which he’s scored nine goals in just five league games.
One thing you cannot question is the desire and commitment he has shown on the pitch, before and after this debacle. We all love a player who shows the willingness to work hard and get stuck in, and Rooney does just that.
Maybe that’s why the languid and relaxed styles of players such as Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick cop so much flak from some supporters, but that’s a different kettle of fish altogether so we won’t go into that.
Anyway, most fans, including me, have felt appeased by him, as he has shown the eagerness to wear the shirt with pride.
He has knuckled down and got on with his job, putting what has happened behind him and committed his cause to United.
After spending pre-season “doing nothing,” the ‘White Pele’ gave a hint of him returning to the form we have seen he can hit, firing in a hat-trick against Seattle Sounders on the US tour.
This has continued into the season, with further trebles popped into the onion bag against Arsenal and Bolton.
But are goals the best way into a fan’s heart?
Some have still not forgiven Rooney for what he did, seeing it as an act of treachery that couldn’t be excused no matter how much remorse he showed.
We’ve lost the likes of Cantona, Keane, Beckham, and Ronaldo but have still gone on to win trophies without them and these fans feel that once a player says he wants out, there’s no turning back. I’m not saying any of these mentioned players did say they want to leave, just making a point that no one is bigger than the club and the cart rolls on without them.
The reported £250k a week is an absurd amount to be earning, with agent Paul Stretford, allegedly, pocketing a cool sum of £3m for brokering the deal, and these fans feel it was purely for this motivation that Wazza stayed at the club.
Rooney told the Guardian towards the end of last season: “I made a mistake. You know, when I look back at it now, I’ll say it again, how wrong was I? I’m willing to admit that. “I’ve apologised and ever since then I have wanted to try to prove myself again to the fans. I feel I am doing that now.”
Do fans believe this to be a genuine apology, or was he merely groveling to reconcile with the supporters in order to get back into their good books after getting what he wanted?
I don’t agree with the wages he is on, I feel he held the club to ransom but maybe Ferguson felt that seeing him in another shirt, especially a City one was something nor he, or the fans, could stomach.
Rooney stays and is doing the business for the club and that’s what he said he would do.
Then again, he could be sat on the bench, pocketing the cash and refusing to go on to the pitch for the team. Now that is something I will never see from a Man United player, NEVER!
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