Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Manchester United 1 Bursaspor 0: Nani cracker gives Sir Alex Ferguson something to smile about


First blood: Nani curls one with his left foot to put United ahead

There was a Champions League football match at Old Trafford last night but even for those who paid the admission price to witness Manchester United secure three more points, the focus was elsewhere.

It was on Wayne Rooney, and on the team, and the squad, he now considers to be beneath him. On the players he seems to think are no longer good enough to keep him here at Old Trafford. What was that Sir Alex Ferguson said about a lack of respect?

One look at the team sheet and Rooney probably felt vindicated. What, he might argue, are individuals of the calibre of Chris Smalling, Tomasz Kuszczak and Federico Macheda doing representing his beloved 'MUFC' in a European fixture?

And how could someone of Bebe's limited experience, and in his opinion ability, be on the bench?

In fairness to the England striker, he might have a point. There has been a lack of investment in a team that only two years ago were the toast of Europe; a decline in quality now that Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez have left, Owen Hargreaves has spent two years on the treatment table and players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville have edged ever closer to retirement.

Since United sold Ronaldo to Real Madrid last year for a world record £80million, little more than half has been reinvested.

Rooney has exposed the flaws in the Glazer regime - the fact that, for all the success United have enjoyed in their five years at Old Trafford, they have burdened the club with debts that have tied Ferguson's hands. To some extent this situation might even suit the manager, in that it is now putting pressure on the Americans to free the club from their financial shackles.

But not even an all too predictable attack on the common enemy, on those who provoked the Green and Gold revolution, has succeeded in appeasing the fans and deflecting attention from Rooney's very obvious greed. Or the fact that, while there is a legitimate concern about the strength of the squad, this desire to leave is motivated more by money than anything else. United's fans aren't stupid and as much was demonstrated last night.

Where's your Rooney gone? United's bench contained big names, empty seats - and one rather notable absentee

The anti-Rooney songs that were being sung in nearby pubs before the game; the banner that revealed the sense of anger and disappointment. 'Who's the whore now Wayne? Coleen forgave you. We won't.'

Judging by what Ferguson said last night, it is difficult to see a way back now. Not after a statement that again challenged Ferguson's authority, that was released without the approval of the club, that accused them of a lack of ambition and then conveniently ignored one key fact - that while he might have met David Gill last week, Rooney told Ferguson in August that he wanted to leave.

'There is not a thing wrong with this club,' said Ferguson, having already pointed to the fact that he had 'won 30 trophies'.

Ferguson's point is that United deserve better than this, especially when you consider the success Rooney has enjoyed since moving from Everton to Old Trafford six years ago - a European Cup, three Premier League titles, a world club championship and three League Cups. Had he not got injured last season, he might have been part of a team that won a record fourth consecutive championship and possibly even reached a third consecutive Champions League final.

Ferguson is optimistic about the future, even if he may not remain the manager for much longer. And does Rooney not see that at 24 turning 25, he could be playing for a team being managed by someone of Jose Mourinho's stature by the time he is 26 without leaving Old Trafford?

Plenty to ponder: Sir Alex Ferguson braves a chilly October night at Old Trafford

Rooney has not given them a chance to respond or rebuild. He has had his head turned by the prospect of earning a vast amount of money and he knows, as do his advisers, that United will not satisfy those kind of demands.

The team? It needs investment but it actually didn't look too bad last night. After all, seven of the starting line-up played an important part in the season that remains the pinnacle of Rooney's career, the 2007-08 campaign when United won their European and domestic double.

In Nani, United also now have a player proving to be of the highest quality, which was something he underlined last night with a quite brilliant seventh-minute goal to settle a game that once again demonstrated the need for UEFA to scrap these mind-numbing firstround group games. After a super turn away from a Bursaspor defender came a wonderful left-foot strike that amounted to the one highlight of the match.

But what did Rooney do, from wherever he was when the statement dropped? He threw another grenade in the direction of the manager he then called a 'one-off and a genius'. And having challenged Ferguson's assertion that he has not shown the club sufficient respect, he then further displayed a lack of it in the way he said he was 'surprised by some' of his manager's remarks.

'I was seeking about the future squad,' he said. 'For me it's all about winning trophies.' And again, he should count the number he has acquired in his time here. Had he never won anything, he would no doubt leave with the club's blessing.
Had he joined United at a time when Ferguson and his team were in decline, we could probably see his point of view.

But Rooney is being disingenuous and that is probably what hurts Ferguson most. 'After the week I've had this feels like my 10,000th game,' said Ferguson after it was suggested to him that this was his 2,000th. When it came to the football last night, he probably wasn't that interested, either.

source : dailymail

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