The cow’s in the meadow. Seven reasons why Rooney might be harder to sell than Man U imagine

By Tony Attwood

As the media circus hang on to and reprint every word of Sir F Word (apart of course from the F-words) and as Manchester IOU go into emergency session to decide what to do about the Potato Man’s agent (who seemingly pulled exactly the same trick on Everton when his guy moved to Man U five years ago), there remains the issue of cows and fields.

To put it particularly: would anyone actually want to buy the young fella-me-lad?  (Or in the case of Sir Alex, would you buy a pint of milk from this man?) (see footnote for more data).

There is an assumption that Rooney is a player of such talent that all the world and its dog will be after him.  A player for whom the market would fall apart at the chance of a purchase.  And thus by implication, he will go.  2+2=7, ergo, viz, op cit, point proven, point taken.

But I think maybe Man U can hold onto the Potato although not for the reasons that one might imagine.

First, I am not sure that everyone will put in the bids that are expected, simply on the grounds that for quite a few months the warm glow of the delicious apple on a sunday afternoon has deserted the poor mite and he has not looked like the great player he clearly once was.   This can’t all be down to the issue of Sir F Word – after all Rooney was fairly awful for England too in the WC (world cup).

Second, his agent’s reputation is now so low, having pulled the same self-enriching stunt twice that everyone knows Rooney will come with contractual baggage.  He is after all the man who proved to the unthinking classes that the light at the end of the tunnel is the express train travelling in the opposite direction.

Third, there’s the delicate issue of  Uefa’s spending rules. Apart from Arsenal very few clubs are actually in a position where they can say to Uefa, come and look at us, we pass the test.  I know that the Tinies are doing this, and it might be that Uefa will be so inept that they won’t actually think of looking in the Virgin Islands, or even wondering where all the funding comes from.

But as for Man City, Real Mad, WC Milan, Barca and Inter, there is no preparedness for the new regulations, and although there is still time to get it right and hide a fair amount of the debt under the mattress, every major purchase makes it harder to get the figures to make enough sense that someone might actually believe them.

Fourth there is the issue of cash.  The fall-out from the Liverpool Affair might be more or less over as far as football journalists are concerned, but not as far as the banks are concerned.  RBS got their money back and indeed made a fat profit out of Liverpool  – but there were times when this was by no means certain.    The number of banks willing to lend to clubs for players is getting smaller by the day, and indeed the number of banks willing to have anything to do with clubs is getting smaller.

Remember Barca in the summer and the way they failed to pay their players on time.   This was not a technical hitch, but a situation in which the club had run out of sources of money.  The banks said no to any further loans, and even the loan sharks looked the other way.  And that was just to keep the old con-artists in business – not because they wanted to actually buy someone.

So the rule is sell before you buy, because there is very little cash on offer – but what Man U want is cash.  Any deal will have to be front loaded – meaning a lot of the money as the player is handed over.   Less than that will not help the Glazers out of their little local difficulty with paying the rent on their shopping malls.

Fifth is the problem that Rooney is English.   While I am more than happy to get the Eurostar to Paris, stroll across Lafayette and argue the toss with the man in charge over whether his ticket machine is working properly or not, not all Englishmen have that certain ability in the old foreign lingo.   And as we all know, Brits don’t travel well when it comes to football.   The number who have done ok on foreign soil is tiny, the number who have not is huge, from Gazza to Rush (and back again).

The ability of players to fit into a new country is a significant issue for all managers to consider – you only have to think of Reyes to see a potentially brilliant player who just could not hack it in foreign parts.

Part of Rooney’s problem will be that of his wife.  She is apparently devoted to her disabled sister, and the thought of moving the sister is (so the media says) causing her some distress.   Mrs Rooney always seems to come across as a genuinely good person (and of course I have no insight in this and am just repeating tittle tattle), and she may well not be that excited by the move to a country where neither she nor her hubby speaks a word.  (Mind you Rooney doesn’t do very well in English either, so I suppose that is a start).

Sixth we come back to Mr Potato himself and his agents. There will be salary demands far in excess of the £7.8m a year that Man IOU were thinking of offering him.  In the past we have always assumed that foreign clubs pay more than the English, but English clubs earn more in revenue than a lot of foreign clubs and they are struggling.  True the President of Italy might stump up a few quid to help AC Milan buy him, but then that just makes life harder under the Uefa deal.   The KGB in Fulham, and the oilmen in Manchester could afford anything – but the former are trying to cut costs, and the latter must start thinking about the Champions League some day soon.

So ultimately we are back to the transfer fee.  Manchester United will need to replace the Roon with another good player.  Sir F Word has mumbled about his brilliant crop of 14 year olds, (in between discussing the milk yield of cows in fields) but we know at Arsenal that a brilliant 14 year old is not always a brilliant 15 year old.   Does he really have a shedload of Wilshere’s lined up to replace his ageing team?  I doubt it.

Already they are wondering how the hell they replace Giggs and the other old timers.  To replace Rooney as well, will mean a need for more and more money.   And that really is where we started.  Who is going to pay?

Of course if they don’t sell the Roon, then he walks.  But with the KGB apparently offering just half the price Man IOU might expect, life is not going to be simple.   Rooney could well fetch only a fraction of what Sir F Word really needs.

Footnote: this is Sir F Word’s entry for the Nobel Prize for After Dinner Metaphors, as taken from his new play, An Absence of Forewords, currently running at the Notional English Theatre of Commerce.

“Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in the field. It’s a fact, right, and it never really works out that way. It’s probably the same cow and it’s not as good as your own cow. Some players like to think there’s a better world somewhere else. It never really works.”

Yup.  That’s about it.

“Making the Arsenal”. The story of Arsenal in 1910. Not a cow in sight.  “Brilliant, the best book ever in the history of history” (Untold Arsenal)

The Index. An analysis of recent articles, and links to other indexes which cover other things.  “Brilliant.  The best index ever.”  (Untold Arsenal)

“The Arsenal History site.” Everything about Arsenal’s past.  “Brilliant.  More history than you can shake a stick at.”  (Untold Arsenal)

38 Replies to “The cow’s in the meadow. Seven reasons why Rooney might be harder to sell than Man U imagine”

  1. Couldnt agree more, Tony.

    The moment all this broke my first thoughts were the same as yours, i.e. “Who would want to spend that money on Rooney?”. If you were 100% certain that this little (big) loss of form he is currently enduring would end soonish, then maybe, just maybe, you would be willing to pay 20-30million (no more due to the expiring contract) plus the huge wages. But can anyone be 100% sure that Rooney hasnt already seen his peak? The past 7/8 months have been more than just a simple loss of form, they have veered towards loss of playing ability. That is the scary part for anyone thinking of purchasing Rooney.

    A year ago I would have loved to see Rooney playing upfront for Arsenal. Now, even if we were willing to pay his wages, I am just not so sure at all.

    Surely every other club in Europe is looking with those same doubts.

  2. And one more point, if we are thinking all this, then surely Fergie knows all this as well, better than anyone.

    What are the odds that Fergie joins Rooney out the door at the end of the season.

    End of an era.

  3. Yes, Man City, Milan,Inter and Barcelona have financial difficulties but Real Madrid made a profit last season so I dont understand why they will struggle to get into the Champions League under the new financial regulations.They can afford to buy Rooney and considering the fact that Higuain misses 5 chances before he scores a goal, a move to Madrid is possible.Mourinho always improves quality players and it doesnt matter if he speaks the language or not because Jose is genius.It pains me to say it but it is true.

  4. bayern munich, obviously – they have the dosh, pay generally high wages, have a tradition of employing brits, and wayne can also share some tricks in the handling of prostitutes with ribery…

  5. But Wayne,s family still reside in Liverpool and wouldn,t want their beloved son to go to far away and Mourinho already has way to many players on his books and needs to offload some to keep the club in decent financial shape,Mancini at Man.City has a problem what all that money already spent and hoping for a top four finish this season ,he doesn,t achieve this goal the Arab benefactor won,t wait too long for the club to start going into the red with all those inflated weekly salaries before he pulls he plug on his loss making enterprise ,the sad reality is Sir Alex needs the cash to service the huge debt at Old Trafford and must sell ,like he did with Cristiano Ronaldo,problems abound for the Red Devils ?

  6. Real Madrid indeed are the obvious choice. They pay more than the player is worth, which is what United will want now. Also looking at their squad, they have only 2 actual strikers, higuain and benzema. Plus Real Madrid president is ‘obsessed’ with rooney. And Mourinho is a good friend of Ferguson. And also Ronaldo and Rooney combo is a successful combo. And then again, Real Madrid are in profits and have lots of cash to spend. Everything points towards Real Madrid

  7. Philip – yes Real Mad made a profit, but I think this is in the same way as Man U made a profit – a profit before you count the costs of the borrowings. I might be wrong – I will need to consult the Swiss Ramble web site to find the latest – unless anyone else knows.

  8. Mourinho calls the shots at Real, not the President. There is no way Mourinho takes the job unless he has the final say on players. So the question is whether Mourinho wants Rooney. 12 months ago the answer would have been a resounding “yes”. But things have changed dramatically over the past 12 months.

    At the moment no one knows for sure how much of Rooney’s really bad (it hasnt just been a loss of form, there have been games where he has been terrible) play has been down to personal issues. What would a move to a foreign country do to that psyche?

    Mourinho would have been wondering that as well. I am not so sure that Mourinho would want to take on Rooney in his current state.

    I wouldnt be surprised if Rooney did end up at City to be honest. That would put the nail in the coffin of the Glazers at Old Trafford. The fans would go mental, especially if it was for a cut-down price. Can you imagine?

  9. It seems like it is bad timing for both ManU and Rooney. For ManU, they cannot possibly use Rooney any more nor get a replacement for him for the next two and a half months. They cannot possibly be expecting the 80million pounds they once hoped they could sell him for at the end of last season and the team (Giggs, Scholes, Neville and Ferdinand) has aged by one more year…not to talk of Glazer’s cash flow burden on the club.

    For Rooney, it is a bad time to be forcing a sale when your form is not what it used to be and when you are likely not to play for an additional two and a half months and when there is turmiol in the peivate/domestic front.

    If good reason prevail the two parties (i.e. ManU and Rooney)will find a way to settle and remain together in the next few weeks. Nothing I have read makes me believe this is off the cards. I will not be surprised if they settle their differences and Rooney remains with ManU in the next few weeks.

  10. Fem Dee – Rooney cannot go anywhere until January at the earliest, so the two parties have no choice but to work together over the next couple of months. It will look really bad for both of them if this turns ugly. How will Utd be able to attract great players if they treat one who wants to leave shabbily? Utd always, always, always have to think of the brand, especially with 800m in debt.

    I said it above, but if Fergie is forced to sell Rooney for “lack of ambition” then it might be the final major decision of Fergie’s career. He has defended the Glazer’s so much and you know it must have been killing him. Fergie isnt stupid. He once had loads and loads and loads of money and now he has none. He knows what is going on here. He knoes the Glazer’s are to blame, but they are his bosses. He knows that the moment he comes out against them, that will be his final act as manager of Manchester Utd. At 69 he cannot start over again. He could survive a civil war, but he would be a few years older. Someone else will have to fight that war.

  11. might be a mooooot point
    but cant he buy himself out for £5M this summer and effectively go on a free…

    Or is that just a nasty rumour, posing as fact?

  12. kiwigooner – that is true, though I dont think it is so little as 5m. I think that figure is just his salary, then he would have to also pay a compensation figure. Maybe 8-9m might be the final cost to the player. Of course that could be covered easily by an future employer, and then some.

  13. Under Article 17 of Fifa’s transfer regulations – the so-called Webster ruling, named after the former Hearts player Andy Webster – Rooney would be entitled to buy out the final year of his current annual salary of just under £5m, plus a small compensation fee, leaving Manchester United drastically out of pocket.

    The Webster ruling states that a player under the age of 28 can walk away from his contract after a ‘protracted period’ – in his case, three years – has expired.

    I wonder just how big, small is?


  15. kiwoggoner – yeah, Utd would view “small” very differently than Rooney that’s for sure. I would imagine it might get set by an arbitration court of some kind. If more players started doing this it might lead to a formal body being set up.

    FIFA should be leading the way with all this. This is why professional sports in America set up Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA’s), which set out the terms of contracts, free agency (end of contract), and everything else. They acknowledge the fact that sports contracts are not like a typical contract, and there are clear rules about playing out your contract.

  16. I would want Rooney to be at United. I dont believe Rooney is past his prime. Rooney’s game is based on a thumping spirit which he totally lacks from the time before the world cup.

    Consider this 1) Rooney leaves, United will no more be genuine title contenders with so much threat they lack upfront. They will struggle to replace him. 2)Time is not too far before Chelsea start to struggle with their aged players. 3) Liverpool are already in relegation battle.
    That will leave Asenal as the only team to dominate the league for the title with no genuine contention from others? I would want Arsenal to dominate when PL is at its best and we are playing even better. Not when rest of the premier league is struggling..
    In such case, We will be fighting for title with whom.. Tiny Tots? or the Arabs? I dont want to see this..

    I will be happy if Rooney stays, United in full form and then Arsenal beat them for the title. Its quite a thrill a ManU-Arsenal clash for the title..

  17. I think Arun that we have to consider Man City too. Although they will have to make some adjustments in time, they might well have decided to go for the league first, and sort out the uefa rules later.

    It is interesting that they are looking to sell Adebayor – they seem to be buying everyone, to try and get a working 25 squad, and then they will sell what’s left to cut their costs, and maybe try and squeeze in under the Uefa radar that way. Not sure if it will work, but it could do. Uefa don’t have an army of accountants waiting in readiness for them, so if any team can make a monkey out of the new regs it will be Man City.

  18. Good article. These all seem like genuine sticking points for Rooney and the club. Perhaps a player swap may be on the cards?

  19. SwissRamble did a great piece recently about how City could, if lucky, get within the regulations in time. They got there JUST in time. They have already said the major spending is over, just as Chelsea’s was after two or three years. Now they will just try and identify a great player every year and hope the majority of the players they have bought play to their transfer fee.

    I dont care who we have to beat to win the League. I couldnt care less if we were the worst League Champions in history. Winning the League is winning the League. If we are simply the last team standing then bully for us, we survived when nobody else did. We were right.

    I dont think it will be quite that easy however. Liverpool will bounce back quickly now. They have solid profits once you strip the debt away. They can cash in on Torres and start rebuilding immediately (as we did five years ago).

    Chelsea still have a year or two left, maybe more if they can just buy one player a year (with Cech, Mikel, Ramires, and Essien still young (ish)).

    We cant expect to win.

  20. I like to compare it to an athlete who has been competing naturally for many years against his rivals who have been taking steroids. In that time the bar has been raised so high that he has had to massively improve his training and coaching methods, finding any new angle just to keep pace.Now the steroids have worn off for his rivals and they are falling back to a natural level in which they are now lacking , while he maintains and strengthens keeping the same routine in the meantime.
    Many of these teams have been cheating thru financial doping for years!
    Good riddance to em!

  21. Everything points squarely at Man City.
    1. MU start negotiating over the summer having got clearance from Glazers to break their new rule of only negotiating in the last year (not 2nd last year).
    2. Offer clearly not good enough or Man City took the opportunity to put a very large salary offer to him via his agent.
    3. Being in the 2nd last year, he does have a Webster option at the end of the year which means that his value in January should be less than a lot of the figures being banded about.
    Key will be over how hard Man U can bargain in Jan. Man City hold strong cards here (despite obvious problems over the fin fair play rules which they will address later).
    At the end of the day higher pay and greater potential with Man City than MU sways Rooney that direction. I doubt that Real or anyone else is in the picture. His poor form all season is now put in a clear context bearing in mind that the Man City offer was on the table and MU said no in August to a move in August.

    Also very clever of AW to say that he expects Cesc to stay for a few more seasons today at the AGM. Sticks the knife into those that cannot keep their stars and haven’t tied them to long term contracts.
    Bottom line is that the Glazers are keeping their purse strings tight as they do in the NFL.

  22. RE: Real Madrid and profits, their enormous spending on players recently (€253m last summer, €75m this summer) is amortised into their accounts over the length of those players’ contracts, so it hasn’t all shown up on the spreadsheets yet. On the other hand, I believe player sales go into the accounts in a lump sum. Real made €88m from player sales in summer ’09, which could explain Real’s surprisingly strong accounts at this time.

  23. Real madrid do not have these financial problems that we think actually. Problem in spain is that the team that finishes 4th in la liga actually get less tv revenue than the team that finshes 20th in the prem. The equality in the money being spread is very unfair meaning real madrid and barca take huge amount of income every season, though this is goin to change as the spanish fa are looking to change this. Never the less real madrid as a gobal product is the biggest in the world anyone thinks otherwise is deluded. Soo madrid can aford this “finacial doping” because they take a £200 million loan from a bank to buy players at a rediculos prices and wages but actually pay it back with 3-4 seasons without having to even win trophies. Buy playing champions legaue, finish top 3, go on world tour in summer and xmas to dubai and USA (that why arsenal have been begging wenger every sumer) and mainly product sales and a little plus with players that leave at bargain prices creat create a huge income which for them is very afordable. We can not compare Man City or Chel$ki with them because they a light years aheead of them. They have been a big club fo 40 years not 4 days and were one of the first to realise this whole american idea of branding. City and chel$ki were not big clubs and have spend heavily without having really a great source of income (apart from there owners). Man U like liverpool very diferent aswell as with have been brought by people that didn’t put a peny really where as madrid again are owned by “socios” not florentino perez. So in all in begging UEFA to inplent these rule next ot the year after, hopeful it will change things for the better thought think real will still spend but will bring more equality.

  24. Man city Chelsea or Real and I cannot see how any of them fit in the purchase and still make the grade for the FFP regs.
    By the by I don’t care what analysis you make out of Real’s figures, the cost of Mourinho and his staff over their contracts and including compensation to inter was quoted to be over £100,000,000. They will need a cross between an accountant and David Copperfield to get their finances in order for UEFA.

    This rooney thing is a bit unexpected but really as long as it is another nail in Man Utd’s coffin we don’t mind what metal it is made out of.
    Happy days 😉

  25. I wonder if this is the end for Ferguson? Because it all adds up to what I imagine are some hefty tension-induced headaches, viz.

    *Giggs and Scholes on the way out, and no obvious replacements coming up through the ranks (or cash to pay for them if brought in from outside);

    *ignominious public row with prize ijeet forward; and

    *endless Glazerdom stretching to the far horizon, and no John Henry MkII riding in to save the day,

    Mancini seems to hold the cards here, since Rooney wants Utd to let him go sooner rather than later, and has created this little stink in order to embarrass the club and get his way.

    But Mancini has to offload Ade or whoever first to make space in the squad/meet UEFA finregs, and then could get Wayne on a free à la Chamakh in 2012, by which time the Citeh books will have been skilfully re-engineered by men who know al-Gebra well, having invented it in the first place.

    However, if I was Mancini, and I could swing the numbers, in January I think I’d prefer to bid for an out-of-form Torres (fellow Latin, smart, quiet family man, no scandal attached to) rather an out-of-form Rooney (tends to appear in the papers a lot but not in a good way for the City brand going forward, as they say).

  26. @Clernkenwell Gooner
    I think you’re right about Fergie. He has lost (or thrown out) big players in the past but there was always money to find replacements. Without funds at his disposal and little hope of funds for a while, does he have the desire to nurture a youthful and uncompetitive team? And for what, to keep funding the Glazers’ business interests?

    He was given little money from the Ronaldo sale (despite what he says), and will probably see little of any Rooney fee. This whole saga could very well force him into retirement.

  27. Now dont all jump down my throat for writing what im about to, but i think a certain Mr Rooney is being quite smart.
    Sir alex wont be manager throughout Rooney`s next contrct he is 70 now and i cannot see him going on for the next 5 years, We all Know man utd is financially ****ed, The Glazers are a bunch of ***ts who are running the club into the lower leagues.
    The question for me is, Why should he stay at Man U. I can only see stagnation for the foreseable future.

  28. I think there is something completely suspect about the way Sir F has handled this situation with Rooney.

    Last season after Ronaldo’s departure he was given main striker responsibility and Rooney played almost every match, even when he’d been up until the early morning when his son was born, was brought back early twice from injury and the striker had been on England duty. I remember thinking at the time it would possibly affect his WC performance and concluded he must really love ManU & Sir F to put his body on the line like that and choose ManU over England…Or he was promised a big wage increase when contract was up for renewal.

    I actually think ManU reneged, called Rooney’s bluff, in that they reached the same conclusions that Tony outlined above, Rooney’s ‘brand’ doesn’t travel as well as Ronaldo’s & Beckham’s and Rooney wouldn’t want to go abroad anyway, leaving him with only a handful of english clubs to choose from. With Rooney earlier publicly pledging alligence to the badge they thought they could offer him a nominal inflation wage increase and move on.

    But in fairness, if you think about it this way, Rooney (and own goal) kept ManU seriously challenging for honours with around 30+ goals last season. He thought if this was expected of him again, he thought he should be paid more because of weight placed on him and previous match winning contributions or failing that, someone else should be bought in to lighten the load on him.

    If I was a ManU fan I would be mad that Sir F only bought unproven Bebe, Hernandez and loaned out Welbeck when he knew his top goal scorer was on his way out months ago. I would also be mad that Sir F chose to make announcements before a critical CL game and there were many key games and months before the next transfer window – not a good way to get the best out of a want away striker…..but then again as most ManU fans are a bunch of glory hunters, I would get down to the Man C store to buy a blue shirt with Tevez on it before the stampede of rats departing a sinking ship beat me to it!

  29. I too think that Sir F will soon announce retirement, ManU fans’s will blame Rooney saga so Rooney might as well be a well paid hate figure at Man C.

    I would also like to add that I think Rooney is a unscrumpulous, self seeking monster turd and I never ever want to see Rooney pull on an Arsenal shirt. Not under any circumstances, not even if he took a pay cut and came to us for free.

  30. @ Clerkenwell Gooner.

    LOL. 100% agree. You have hit the nail on the head. Torres over Rooney, u betcha!

  31. Re: potential Torres’ move to Man Ciny, David Villa is on record saying Torres is not it for the money – so he must be in it for glory.

    Liverpool’s best players are ageing (Carragher is a liability, and Gerrard is 30), and the turnaround, if the promised John Henry $$$ arrives, will take time, whereas Citeh are obviously in contention this season.

    And the main reason Citeh are, I suggest, is because Torres’ fellow Spain international, David Silva, is on fire right now (he even made Adebarndoor look good last night vs Poznan).

    If I were Torres, Citeh would be a very interesting proposition. Do I stay in Liverpool, and win nothing at club level ever, maybe even get relegated – shades of Atlético Madrid all over again for the poor bloke – or would I go and play with my good mate Silva, and at least have a fighting chance?

    Whether Torres could endure the wrath of the Liverpool faithful is another matter, but I suspect he is in better odour there than Rooney is currently with the average United fan.

  32. Well, well, well. Shrek signs a new 5 year contract.

    Rooney, his agent, Ferguson, Gill, the Glazers, the fans – they all deserve each other. They’ve all made themselves look stupid over the last few days.

    If Man IOU don’t buy a big name in the January transfer window, one or more of the aforementioned is going to look pretty stupid.

  33. Rooney’s decision to stay is the best possible news. It means Man U don’t get any relief from their financial plight, and don’t get any aid towards becoming more likely to meet the Uefa regs.

    So yes, they keep a guy who was a brilliant player but is now just a very good player, their wage bill goes up, and the money the Glazers were going to take is now going to have to come from another source.

    Good news for us, I think

  34. Manchester United had to sort this out. Rooney leaving would have been absolute disaster. Fergie knew that and the Glazer’s definately knew that. It would have been the most damning indictment of their ownership. The fans would have gone ballistic.

    They had better hope he now performs back to the level they are paying him, or else they are in big trouble.

  35. I was suspicious about these press conferences from the start. Everything pointed to this being a stunt-Sir F’s disingenuous tone, wrong time of the year, he still has 2 years left on his contract, the so called reasons-not matching ambitions-what rubbish-and most of all potato mans limited options. Man City have won nothing yet not even in the CL-are a relatively small club who will always be overshadowed by their bigger neighbours. Chelsea- a club with a relatively- small fan base cant even sell out its home games-either club is a step down for the potato. If you think United would sell its best player to a direct rival you’d have to be dreaming. Sir F made their policy clear in 2007 with Heinze-when he refused to let him join Liverpool.
    Its all about money and what Man U were prepared to pay him.

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