Wayne Rooney’s return to Everton brings his 13-year stay at Manchester United to an end. Jose Mourinho deserves credit for handling a potentially tricky situation with a minimum of fuss, writes Adam Bate.
Although Sir Alex Ferguson is rightly hailed as a master of man-management, exits of iconic players were a feature of his Manchester United reign.
Most memorably, there was the mid-season departure of Roy Keane after his damning assessment of his team-mates on United’s in-house television station. A brief power-play ensued, with only one winner.
David Beckham endured a more drawn-out process in which his relationship with the United manager fractured beyond repair, while Ruud van Nistelrooy also faced similar problems. These were heroes to supporters, and players who had helped the club achieve great things, but that was not enough to stop Ferguson flexing his muscles and doing his job.
Of course, Wayne Rooney himself had his issues with Ferguson, the strains between the pair appearing to reach their nadir in the closing months of his reign. The disputed claim that Rooney had issued a transfer request led many to conclude that the path had been cleared for his sale. Certainly, it is difficult to see how he could have stayed on under Ferguson.
So when Jose Mourinho assumed control in the summer and effectively ousted Rooney from his first eleven within six months, on the face of it, another similarly dramatic departure from Old Trafford might have been expected. And yet, Rooney, the club’s record goalscorer, of course, has been ushered towards the exit with the skill of a diplomat.
For a coach who supposedly thrives on conflict, Mourinho has negotiated a potentially difficult situation with considerable deftness of touch. Rooney’s detractors might have preferred a public dismissal of the player’s qualities. His fans would have favoured that he continue in a bit-part role. Both groups are likely to accept that this is all for the best.
Mourinho actually set the wheels in motion in July during his opening press conference as Manchester United manager. Asked about Rooney’s future, he was effusive in his praise for the captain and would soon confirm that the player was to remain in the role. But Mourinho was also unusually adamant about precisely where Rooney would be playing.
“He will never be a No 6 for me, he will never be someone playing 60 metres from the goal,” he explained in reference to Rooney’s penchant for dropping into midfield. “There are many players with a great pass, but there aren’t as many players who can put the ball in the net. For me he will be a No 9, a 10, or a 9-and-a-half, but not a 6 or even an 8.”
Mourinho framed the comments in positive terms, emphasising Rooney’s scoring ability. But having signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the team’s target man and with Henrikh Mkhitaryan further bolstering United’s attacking options, the reality of Rooney’s predicament was clear. Mourinho limited the scope for Rooney to switch position in search of action elsewhere.
As recently as October, he was still fielding questions about Rooney’s future with the line that the player was “going nowhere” but by February that had changed with Mourinho insistent he could offer no guarantees. “You have to ask him if he sees himself staying in the club for the rest of his career or if he sees himself moving,” he said.
“I would never push – or try to push – a legend of this club to another destiny.”
Perhaps that is the key point. While Ferguson was acting from a position of unprecedented strength as the most successful manager in the history of English football and the incumbent at a club where he would eventually win 13 Premier League trophies, Mourinho, for all his achievements, had to be more cautious in his handling of a club icon.
His final days at Chelsea reemphasised the importance of carrying the dressing room with him and there were echoes too of Mourinho’s handling of Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard as their stays at Stamford Bridge petered out in 2014. In both instances, while egos might have been wounded, awkward exits were handled without too much public acrimony.
Like Rooney, Cole found himself out of favour for the first time in his illustrious career but Mourinho only reinforced the message that “Ashley is a top professional” and “a fighter” when questioned on the omission. Lampard was told that “as one of the most important players in the history of the club” he could “do anything he wants” at Chelsea in the future.
Whether that offer extends to Rooney remains to be seen. But he stayed on long enough to break Manchester United’s all-time goalscoring record and has been afforded the emotional send-off that his accomplishments deserve. He has done so to the sound of public praise from the manager who no longer considers him deserving of a place in United’s first team.
Ultimately, the upshot is that Mourinho has succeeded in removing a huge earner from the wage bill and improved the team in the process. He has satisfied those fans who demanded that traditions be respected and a club hero be rightly honoured, while pushing through the change that most regard as essential at Old Trafford. One suspects that Ferguson approves.
Soccer Accumulator Bonus
Our fantastic Euro Soccer accumulator offer gives you the chance to earn a bonus of up to 100% on accumulators on the top domestic leagues in Europe along with the group and knockout stages of the Champions League.
This offer applies to returns on pre-match accumulators of 3 or more selections on Full Time Result or Result/Both Teams To Score markets for the English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga 1 or UEFA Champions League.
The maximum bonus that you can receive is €100,000 or currency equivalent. The bonus will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out, the bonus will be calculated based .on the remaining active stake. If a qualifying bet is edited .using our Edit Bet feature. The bonus will be calculated based on the new stake. Where a bet has been edited to include or amend a selection for an event that is In-Play, the bonus will no longer apply. Double Chance bets or combination bets with bonuses. Such as Lucky 15’s or Lucky .31’s do not apply for this offer.
If your bet is successful, we will add the following bonuses to your returns:
Bet Type Bonus
14-folds and upwards 100% bonus
Terms and Conditions
Applies to straight pre-match accumulator bets on the Full Time Result or Result/Both Teams To Score markets for UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga .1 or Australian A-League matches. Maximum bonus €100,000 or currency equivalent. Soccer Accumulator Bonus does not apply to Double Chance bets or combination. bets with bonuses such as Lucky 15’s, Lucky 31’s etc.
If any selections are postponed/void then the bonus will still apply, but the percentage bonus added will reflect the actual number of winning selections. For example, an 8-fold accumulator with 7. winners and 1 postponed match will receive a 30% .bonus to returns.
The bonus part of your returns will be added to your account within 24 hours of your final selection having played.
This bonus will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out, the bonus will be calculated based on the remaining active stake.
If a qualifying bet is edited using our Edit Bet feature, the bonus will be calculated based on the new stake. Where a bet has been edited to include or amend a selection for an event that is In-Play, the bonus will no longer apply.
Where any term of the offer or promotion is breached or there is any evidence of a series of bets placed by a customer or group of customers, which due to a deposit bonus, enhanced payments, free bets, risk free bets or any other promotional offer results in guaranteed customer profits irrespective of the outcome, whether individually or as part of a group, bet365 reserves the right to reclaim the bonus element of such offers and in their absolute discretion either settle bets at the correct odds, void the free and risk free. bets or void any bet funded by the deposit bonus.
In addition bet365 .reserve the right to levy an administration charge on the customer up to the value of the deposit bonus, free bet, risk free bet or additional payment to cover administrative costs. We further reserve the right to ask any customer to provide sufficient documentation for us to be satisfied in our absolute discretion as to the customer’s identity prior to us crediting any bonus, free bet, risk free bet or offer to their account.
All bet365 offers are intended for recreational players and bet365 may in its sole discretion limit the eligibility of customers to participate in all or part of any promotion.