After all the headlines, the statements and the debates about Wayne Rooney’s future, he decided he wanted to stay at Manchester United after all and signed a new five-year contract. There are arguments that the former Everton man only put pen to paper after receiving the big pay rise that he was after, others argued that he was doing it with United’s interest at heart as he apparently put a clause in his contract stating that the club must invest in the team in the near future. Some conspiracy theorists even suggested that the deal was only signed to raise Rooney’s market value and he will still be sold in the summer for a much bigger fee than what he would have fetched in January.
But one man who experienced almost exactly the same state of affairs was a former number 10 at Old Trafford. And the manager then was also a Scottish knight. His name was Denis Law and he said he would leave after failing to get a pay rise too. But this pay rise wasn’t the extra £100,000 a-week Rooney is mooted to have received. Law incurred the wrath of Manchester United, Sir Matt Busby and the United faithful for, wait for it, an extra £10 a-week.
Law who was dubbed ‘The King’ during his time in the red half of Manchester, where he helped his side to an FA Cup, League title and European Cup, revealed his almost identical scenario and spoke of how similarly it was dealt with.
He said: “I have no idea about the details of Rooney’s contract or the kind of sums involved, but I suspect there was a slight difference in what we were looking for. Back in 1966, I asked Matt Busby for a rise of £10 a week!
“His response was to bring it all out in the open. He announced that he wouldn’t be held to ransom and had put me on the transfer list. I don’t know about Wayne, but I never really wanted to leave United. I was just trying it on. And in fact there was never any animosity. Matt sorted it with me very cleverly.”
These events almost 45 years ago are indistinguishable from events at Old Trafford during the past week whereby Rooney was dealt with in the same manner by Sir Alex Ferguson who also hung his star forward out to dry to teach him a lesson.
Many observers of the Rooney saga praised the United boss’ ability to deal with the situation which shares an uncanny resemblance with one of his predecessors and Law explained that Busby won the PR war in 1966 too.
He continued: “He gave me a prepared statement of apology to sign and he presented it to the press.
“He had proved again what a strong manager he was and I was back on board. What Matt didn’t reveal was that he had secretly given me the tenner. That was his way of handling things.”
With the overnight negotiations with Wayne Rooney, Chief executive David Gill and Joel Glazer, son of club owner Malcolm, it could be argued that Fergie took a leaf out of the legendary Busby’s book and secretly gave the striker what he wanted. With Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez no longer on the wage bill at Old Trafford, the club felt they could spare some of the funds to keep the Croxeth boy sweet. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Speaking of history, yet again, all the talk seems to be about money, which puts the recent argument of ‘players these days’ into consideration as, it is clear, that the players’ earnings are a major factor in the game.
Law, does have some sympathy for Rooney but doesn’t agree with what his beloved game has become.
He said: “Every player wants to do the best for himself and his family and I understand that. But nowadays it seems to be much more of a business.
“What happened to the real love of football? Why don’t we read more about players’ ability and wonderful skills?
“Let’s hope that now this chapter has closed we’ll hear more about Wayne Rooney the footballer and Manchester United the great club.”
Or could history repeat itself again and Rooney, like Law, end up joining Manchester City and leave United behind to struggle as they did when Law, Best, Charlton – the United trinity, left with arguably their most influential manager retiring too.
With United’s current trinity of veterans nearing the end of their careers, and manager Ferguson approaching the grand-old age of 70 which he claimed would be the last in the Old Trafford hotseat, it could be suggested that this club of great history may press the repeat button and we may witness the recurrence of this great story.