Friday, 22 October 2010

Post Rooney

Good to hear Ian Holloway and Mark Lawrenson on this.

No point in speculating about all the reasons. I think Lawrenson is right and I think the splendid Ian Holloway is right.

Regarding Rooney's current stated reason for leaving - no investment in the team - Mark Pougach asks Lawrenson about Ronaldo and Tevez leaving and not being replaced.

I haven't seen it mentioned yet that hardly anyone had heard of Cristiano Ronaldo when he arrived at Old Trafford. For a season or two he was regarded as a flashy no-product luxury. Ferguson thought different, and he was right. No one had heard of Beckham and Scholes and the two Nevilles when they first came into the team ('You'll not win anything with kids'), and Giggs had already been dismissed - I remember it quite clearly, by Oliver Holt? - as someone who'll never be a great player now. Ronaldo wasn't a big money buy. Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, the Nevilles, Nicky Butt, Wes Brown, John O'Shea, Darren Fletcher, Jonny Evans cost nothing and are or have been all internationals. Solskjaer cost very little. No one had heard of Vidic or Evra when they arrived. The jury was out on all of them. It has been out on Nani but the verdict seems ever more likely to be favourable, and it has been out on Berbatov, but I am pretty sure that too will be favourable. The jury seems likely to approve of Raphael and Fabio, and it might well approve of Obertan. Anderson could come good. Bebe is a mystery, but I wouldn't bet against him. Valencia, Gibson, Cleverley, Welbeck, Hernandez, Smalling, have all looked very good at different times. Macheda might be fine. People, especially young players, need to start somewhere, just as the 1992-93 team did.

Not every buy was successful but they can't all be successful. There were disappointments: Kleberson, Djemba-Djemba, the various goalkeepers. On the other hand Ferdinand was good and Rooney was good, but they both reached their best at Manchester United, as did Keane and Cantona. Van de Saar has been outstanding at Old Trafford, beyond anything he might have achieved at Fulham.

Few players leaving Manchester United have spoken ill of Ferguson, and Hunter Davies is talking malicious rubbish when he suggests that all Ferguson can do is scream and shout. Plenty can scream and shout, but no one has produced results like Ferguson, or indeed loyalty like Ferguson.

The pride of the team has been less in its big money investments (who can be proud of a hideously wealthy oligarch or sheik buying whoever they fancy? that's not an achievement!) but its development of promise.

I just want Rooney to go now, as soon as possible. Let him follow the bigger money if that is what this is about, as Lawrenson suggests.

I rather relish the thought of playing without Rooney and coming through, not necessarily this season but in the next two or three. There is no divine right to be champions of everything all the time. If it weren't for the vast oceans of cash I'd welcome Manchester City's challenge, just as I do that of Spurs. It is quite mad in my opinion to insist that a club spend a fortune for the sake of spending a fortune. Far better not to, not just for the sake of economics, but for pride.

The Glazers are a nuisance and should go at a suitable moment. They are not so much a nuisance in themselves as through the whole principle of a leveraged buy-out. Given that as a mechanism, they have been no worse than anyone else would have been or has been, at, say, Liverpool.

If money is to be spent in my view, it is an outstanding creative midfielder the team needs rather than anything else. I doubt Carrick is the man, though he has been pretty good much of the time, better than he is given credit for at the bad times. A great midfielder might be worth paying big money for, but Ferguson could just as easily spot someone promising out of the corner of his eye, either within the club or somewhere else. I wouldn't be surprised him bid for Jack Rodwell. But then I wouldn't be surprised if he thought he had something else cooking.

I started supporting the team in 1958 after the Munich crash. I never expected to have so much success over such a long period. Ferguson has given far more than anyone dreamt he could have. The problems could begin after he goes, depending on whom they appoint. But that's another question.


James Hamilton said...

I wonder if you also feel this - that Ferguson's teams are being judged on the basis of false memory? Even the Keane-Giggs-Scholes-Beckham team had its longeurs, and couldn't deal with Wenger when he first arrived. And if this current side is in decline, with "no" talent coming through, then what on earth are we supposed to say about the ropey team of c.2004 - and about what happened subsequently? I mean, things did get a bit better after that.

You know my own take on this - that talking about "overpaid lazy selfish primadonnas" is all too easy and misrepresents what money does or doesn't do to people. I think footballers behave like modern 20-something men of all incomes, watched and commented upon by people who have forgotten or never knew what the 20s were like for young fit sportsmen, in a culture where "the game's been ruined by money" is code for "I'm a good chap and you should like me."

In his defence, I've felt, at times, as if everything - United's success, England's success - is predicated too much on Rooney, and that other players hide behind him in the way they once hid behind Shearer,Owen and Beckham.

But Rooney isn't Owen or Beckham - he looks lost sometimes, like a lad who needs more understanding and reassurance than he gets. He can't carry passengers, hates carrying passengers, resents it but can't articulate it. I get the sense from him of someone who just isn't being heard about something he can't quite describe. If I'm right,then his agent is playing on this for his own, inevitably financial, reasons.

My other, even less likely theory, is that Ferguson is using Rooney to squeeze funds out of the Glazers. Just thinking out loud, but Ferguson's demeanour at that press conference says, probably not!

Coirí Filíochta said...

I'm not as passionate about, or emotionally affected by soccer, as many others who do take it seriously. It was only a game for me. Now, I don't really care who wins; as long as they have team spirit, cohere on the pitch, play with passion, keep it flowing and put on an entertaining show, heart and guts; I will be supportive of any team like that.

Growing up I supported Liverpool, at the time thinking my (virtual) relationship with the Kop was something real and solid, that I wasn't a fairweather fan, but I came to understand, after I lost interest in watching them play a few seasons after they stopped winning the league and got boring, that the Shankly mantra of football being more important than life or death, had never really applied to me.

What I was really a fan of, though I didn't know it at the time, was the spirit of a (local) team at the top of their game. That's why I preferred watching Man U to Liverpool when I moved from the NW of England to London in the 90's.

Not being a scouser, coming from the first town on the Lancashire, or 'wooleyback' side of that provincial scouse-manc divide, 13 miles from Liverpool and 30 from Manchester (a not inconsiderable distance to be a legitimate fan of either team), people from my town are treated by both sides as one of 'them', as equally and easily as one of 'us'.

Articulating this reality, without winding up those who do take their soccer seriously, is challenging, but the truth is, the only ground I've regularly attended is Lansdowne Road, when I got a job there as a steward, 45 quid cash in hand to be at the match. That's when my 'real' relationship with soccer (and rugby) began.

The new ground is state of the art, though it's all above board now, a strict uniform code, zero tolerance on smoking and 65 quid net a game.


I think it's just a strop, the recent detailing of his off-pitch antics have mashed his head up, and I have a feeling it's a storm in a teacup that will all blow over and he'll sign a new contract, five years probably.