There’s a tattoo on Wayne Rooney’s forearm which reads: “Just Enough Education To Perform.” Whether ironic or accurate, the line – taken from the title of an album by his favourite band, The Stereophonics – there’s no denying he aint doing too badly for a lad who left school without a single GCSE.
Of course there are some people who’d have you believe Rooney is irretrievably thick and all-too-easily led. On TV3, Martin Keown attributed last week’s contract extension controversy to a “lack of education.” The implication, since fuelled by Alex Ferguson, is that it was all the doing of his dastardly agent Paul “Mr Twenty Percent” Stretford. Well if I’d an advisor who could me bag me stg£46.8million over five years I’d do what I was told too.
The most startling aspect of the sorry Wayne ‘wants away’ saga was the amount of naiveté that still exists when it comes to English soccer, specifically all those who were under the illusion that a player with no actual affinity to a club should care beyond how rich its owners are prepared to make him. The only supporters that crossed Rooney’s mind would have been the bunch in balaclavas that warned him off even entertaining thoughts of Middle Eastlands, where he’d have commanded at least a “quarter-of-a-mill” every week (if he survived that death threat by graffiti).
For all the conflicting pieces that have appeared in the printed media since Friday’s mutual agreement between the feuding factions – many declaring that Manchester United number 10 was right to assert his aspirations and question his employers’ ambition – what Rooney was really doing was extracting the maximum personal benefit from Manchester United’s relative misfortune.
If he wasn’t and was simply keen to know the Glazers’ intentions as regards building for the future then he would have signed for another five years on the same salary he’d been on up to that point. Instead he effectively doubled his money to a reported stg£200,000 per week, pre-tax, plus ‘add-ons’. Which he was perfectly entitled to do, ludicrous and all as modern-day wages have become. But let’s drop the pretence that the stand-off was anything other than a game of poker – in which both sides called each others bluff – with good old-fashioned filthy lucre at stake.
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