A good performance in Moscow was followed by a “workman like” show against Wolves – that just about sums up the football in the past week. The only other note-worthy thing associated with either game was the abuse for Stephen Hunt, which I am pleased to say carried on unabated – long may it continue. Last time we played against him I sharpened my poison pen and poured forth my bile about the horrible little thug so I shan’t do it again, but it need not be said that we won’t forget Stephen – just ask Dean Saunders.
Of course, the only story in town this week was Wayne Rooney – it was so entertaining and I just wish it had gone on for a bit longer as the various individuals and groups of people lining up to make utter fools of themselves was seemingly unending.
First there was Alex Ferguson himself – the tough talking, hairdryer delivering, no nonsense, hard-man Glaswegian. His press conference was brilliant – the hurt, almost teary-eyed, betrayed father-figure display was worthy of an Oscar.
Then there were the United fans – usually it takes a lot to really rile them, but they were on every talk show known to man – giving their former hero dogs abuse – no-one is bigger than the club, he’s a spent force anyway, a liar with what he said about the team, it’s just greed, never be welcome in Manchester again etc etc. The hooded Mancs all converging outside Rooney’s home was a bit Scouser-stylee but they just stopped short of burning his shirt in front of the TV cameras.
The media too – reporting the end of United (and the world) as we know it, concluded that Rooney leaving was also the “proof” that Ferguson was not the manager he was – that he had lost “it”, whatever “it” is. They hijacked anyone with even the most tenuous link to United for an “exclusive insight”, that was anything but; I even heard a psychologist interviewed about Rooney’s “possible” state of mind.
The Manchester City fans who thought they were on the verge of pulling of the biggest football coup in living memory were giving it large to everyone and anyone that would listen. I believe that the City variation of the “once a blue, always a blue” t-shirt had already been mass produced and were flying off Manchester street corners. Still, I’m sure they’ll make useful dusters.
The funniest by a country mile I think were the Spurs fans and Harry Rednapp – they honestly believed they stood a good chance of signing him. Old Harry actually talked about it seriously when a journalist asked him tongue in cheek whether Spurs were going to throw their hats into the ring. As for Tottenham fans – again, they besieged radio shows stating that they were the “natural choice” for Rooney. A “big club” (snigger) with a good chance of winning the league (gaffaw) and a world class squad apparently (stop it now).
Whether Rooney really had any intention of leaving United only he and a handful of others know, but if anyone believes that this is about anything other than money then they are truly deluded. Rooney effectively held his club up to ransom to bag himself an unbelievable remuneration package. At a time when many people are experiencing financial hardship, the whole sorry affair leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth.
Of course, he is not the first to exploit this tactic and he certainly won’t be the last, but the public and direct manner in which he questioned United was a slap in the face for a club that usually conducts its contract negotiations behind closed doors and with a modicum of discretion. But I suppose one can’t expect much more from an individual who is not exactly known for either his class nor his intelligence.
Although this whole episode has distracted all from the lurid allegations about his private life, so perhaps he isn’t so thick after all.
Of course the back tracking and damage limitation from this whole sordid affair has already commenced with Ferguson exonerating the boy Rooney of blame and laying that directly at the feet of his agent. Rooney too has himself allegedly had a little dig at Liverpool and Gerrard trying to start the healing process with the supporters.
Of course supporters are fickle and a purple patch on the pitch and all will be forgiven by most but I imagine his image will remain forever tarnished for some. John Terry’s dalliance with Manchester City was never really supported by direct quotes from our Captain himself, but the weeks of silence on his part and a lack of denials was proof enough that he had also held the club to ransom – that has sat uncomfortably with me ever since.
But you have to be pragmatic in these instances and not cut off your nose to spite your face. I imagine the majority of United fans will be pleased that he is staying, no matter what has gone on, just as I was pleased that Terry stayed.
Back to Chelsea matters – Blackburn this weekend may be a real baptism of fire for Lampard who is expected to return. Despite the favourable results, we have missed him and our recent conservative goal tally I think was a direct result of his lay-off. As sickening as the Arsenal win was, (another penalty and another opposition team reduced to 10 men – just saying like) it has put a bit of space between ourselves and the immediate chasing pack. Heavy pitches and cold weather injuries may be just around the corner so it’s a good buffer to have.
Come on Chelsea!