Smile for the cameras

So that’s it, then?

Wayne Rooney re-signed at Manchester United. Now, the dickie birds may sing again. A lone cow forages on pastures still green.

But isn’t his dramatic u-turn just a little bit fishy?

In a bureaucratic footballing environment populated by massive clubs and billions of dollars, there’s almost always more than what meets the eyes of casual fans. Just as Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger (in different ways, with different degrees of candor) acknowledged that manager’s will “create” injuries for players in order to rest them without public rebuke, the same, if not greater, levels of plotting and coyness can–and probably do–apply to this remarkable deus ex machina.

If Wayne Rooney wants to leave Manchester United–something he was so “adamant” about–they’d not be inclined to let him go for little or nothing. Nor would they have been too chuffed at him buying out his last year for $7m, an option allowed to him under FIFA regulations. Rooney wouldn’t have really preferred that either, as it’d forever tarnish his reputation among the rafters of Old Trafford.

Don’t get it twisted. There is a very real possiblity Rooney has re-signed with United in a clandestine “sign-and-sell” deal, basically the exact same agreement that Ronaldo had with the club when he re-signed late in his tenure, assured to move to Real Madrid (a move that was planned well in advance, so much so that Ronaldo patented CR9 that January while he still wore number seven for United).

Things might seem all hunkey-dorey for Man Red fans around the world. But Rooney signing a new deal may merely enable United to receive just compensation for the player, instead of him leaving on a Bosman’s free or buying out his last year for next to nothing.

If you believe such elaborate machinations are conspiratorial and implausible then I have a bundle of home loans I’d like to sell you. Hell, you probably don’t even believe in aliens. Money enables, if not necessitates, such subterfuge and smiley faces. Have we not learned anything?

Rooney’s u-turn saves face for player and ensures financial compensation for club if he were to leave before his new contract runs out, something that isn’t exactly unlikely in the current “money first, football second” climate of European football, a paradigm shared vociferously by Manchester United’s owners to their own club’s detriment.

Is it likely Rooney has re-signed with an implicit agreement to be sold next summer? I think so. You may not.

But we should all agree it’s very possible.

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