My new deal will help revive Manchester United, says Wayne Rooney
Agence France-Presse in London
Wayne Rooney believes his decision to commit his long-term future to Manchester United can help the spluttering Premier League champions get back on track.
United are in the midst of one of their worst seasons in recent memory and face the devastating possibility of missing out on qualification for the Champions League.
Less than 12 months after Alex Ferguson bowed out as United manager by winning his 13th Premier League title, the Old Trafford outfit are a pale shadow of the side that dominated the English game.
Ferguson’s hand-picked successor David Moyes has been unable to make a smooth transition since arriving from Everton and, incredibly, United were languishing in seventh place ahead of Saturday’s games, 15 points behind leaders Chelsea and 11 adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool.
Yet England striker Rooney is adamant the possibility of missing out on Champions League qualification never threatened to stop him signing the contract which now keeps him at Old Trafford until June 2019 and makes him one of the world’s best-paid players.
“I know that’s what some thought but it’s not a massive concern for me,” Rooney said.
“This is because I know the direction that this club is going in, and if we don’t make it this season then we will come back stronger and claim a Champions League spot next season.
“Let’s not forget we still have a chance this year, some of the other teams are playing well but we have a strong squad here and if we have a positive end to the season then who knows what can happen?”
Rooney’s future has been in doubt since 2010 when he demanded a transfer before changing his mind and Ferguson claimed he also agitated for a move last season after losing his place in the team.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho made an unsuccessful attempt to sign Rooney before the start of the current campaign and it would have been no surprise if he made a renewed bid when the transfer window reopens.
The prospect of working with Mourinho may have appealed to Rooney, but it seems the lure of a reported £300,000-a-week (HK$3.9 million) wage packet was too hard to resist.
Rooney signed on the dotted line on Friday, providing a significant coup for the under-fire Moyes, who has been criticised for both United’s poor results and his transfer dealings.
But, with Rooney on board, Moyes can at least build his team around one of English football’s most dynamic talents.
The 28-year-old will now spend the final peak years of his career in a United shirt and he insists there is no reason to fear Ferguson’s departure has triggered a long-term decline.
“The future is bright for Manchester United,” Rooney said.
“This is still one of the world’s leading clubs. We have seen this with the signing of Juan Mata in January.
“People have been saying we may have trouble attracting the world’s best players but I think the fact Mata came here shows this isn’t true.
“This is a new era for the club, we have a new management team and a great new manager in David Moyes, there has to be some time for change.
“We have some great players here and despite our recent form everyone has stuck together and the team spirit is still good, we will continue to work hard and get Manchester United to the top where it belongs.”
Rooney denied that he had demanded to become captain or had sought assurances on the club’s future transfer targets before signing.
And by the time his contract at United ends, he hopes to have broken Bobby Charlton’s club record of 249 goals.
Rooney is fourth in United’s all-time top scorers, just 48 behind Charlton.
“It’s a great opportunity to try to break those kinds of records,” he said.
“Hopefully it will happen and if it does it will be a really proud moment.”