A mob of around 40 people descended on Wayne Rooney’s mansion Thursday night and made death threats. The Daily Telegraph reported that United supporters were chanting “Join Man City and you die,” while The Guardian reported that protesters unfurled a “If you join City, you’re dead” banner. The protesters, who referred to themselves as ‘Men In Black’ on forums and Twitter, wore balaclavas, hooded tops and Cantona masks. Thankfully police broke up the protest, no arrests were made, and there was no confrontation with Rooney, who remained safe inside his Wilmslow, Cheshire home.
Now if Manchester United supporters want to drive Rooney away from the club, episodes like this one that happened Thursday night will do exactly that. For many supporters, they’ll be glad to see Rooney leave United after the way he abandoned the club and broke the trust and loyalty with the supporters. But the ramifications of a possible departure by Rooney on Manchester United would be immense and may be the beginning of the fall of the United empire in English football.
Love him or hate him, Wayne Rooney is Manchester United. The club needs him more than he needs Manchester United. Yes, a player should never be more important than a club, but in Manchester United’s case they need Rooney to stay now more than ever because (1) it would cost a fortune to find a player of his calibre to replace him, and (2) the man alone generates a ton of revenue for Manchester United in the form of sponsorships and shirt sales. Losing Rooney would have a dramatic impact on the club’s form and in their pocket book. He hasn’t been playing anywhere near his potential but when the player is on top of his form, he’s one of the best in the world.
After Thursday’s meeting between Man United chief executive David Gill and manager Sir Alex Ferguson, the club released a statement that no decision had been reached on Rooney. With his future in limbo, Manchester United will continue to negotiate a deal that would keep Rooney at Manchester United. But looking at both sides of the bargaining table, I don’t see Rooney backing down especially when nearly all of the cards are stacked against Manchester United and in his favor.
The only two things that Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson going for them in the negotiating is that they have the supporters and press on their side. But when it comes down to money, neither of those are an advantage. Club supporters and the press have been hung out to dry so many times in the past.
Now consider the leverage that Rooney has:
- Rooney knows that Manchester City is willing to offer him wages that are substantially more than anything United can offer,
- Manchester United doesn’t have limited riches and I don’t believe will be able to offer Rooney a huge increase to get him to sign a new contract,
- Rooney can buy out his contract next summer under the Webster ruling for £5 million,
- The longer the dispute runs, the more likely it’ll negatively impact Man United’s performances on the pitch.
The above points illustrate how vital it is for Manchester United to either negotiate a new contract with Rooney or to sell him in January for as much as possible. However, Rooney seems unlikely to move to the European continent due to his wife wanting to help his sister-in-law, who has a degenerative disease. So if Rooney stays in England, the number of clubs able to pay his wage demands can be counted on one hand. Manchester City would be the most likely candidate, but United may reject a transfer offer from City for Rooney to ensure that United remains the biggest team in Manchester.