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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Conclusion brings with it more questions than answers

Self-inflicted problems have been a theme of Manchester United's season. Whether strange selections or defensive difficulties, their slip-ups can generally be traced to their own failings.

Self-inflicted problems have been a theme of Manchester United's season. Whether strange selections or defensive difficulties, their slip-ups can generally be traced to their own failings.

So, too, can a traumatic week. The initial reaction to Wayne Rooney's decision to sign a new contract may be one of relief, but when the internal inquest commences there are questions to be answered. What, for instance, were the reasons for the impasse between August, when Rooney informed United of his reluctance to re-sign, and October? Was the delay in offering terms that were deemed satisfactory - which prompted fears that if Rooney were to go, it would be for a cut-price fee because his contract was expiring - part of a desire to keep the wage bill as low as possible for as long as possible? And, most importantly, what are the club's ambitions and budget?

Because, canny PR move as it definitely was by Rooney's representatives, his statement on Wednesday reflected the concerns of supporters. The last two summers have not featured the world-class recruits they wanted, largely, although Sir Alex Ferguson has never acknowledged it, because of the budgetary black hole caused by the ownership of the Glazers.

In the process, United created the monster that Rooney became.

His importance mushroomed after the departures of big names such as Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo.

His agent, the avaricious Paul Stretford, realised it. This particular instance of player power was aided by the reliance of United's marketing and footballing departments upon him.

In the process, United misjudged his character. The presumption was that he was a happy inheritor of the mantle of the position of figurehead and that his allegiance to the cause was enough to give the club a secure bargaining position. Instead, an unseemly process damaged Rooney's reputation. Despite retaining the services of their prize asset, it hardly enhanced United's, either.

sports@thenational.ae

Published: October 23, 2010 04:00 AM

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