Paul Parker

Huge Rooney deal risky but proves United are still top club

Wayne RooneyWayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney’s new contract adds an interesting twist to this debate about what constitutes being a big club. I mean, merely being able to pay £300,000-a-week to one player suggests that United can attract and retain top talent.

Obviously this is a statement of sorts – it tells players that they can go there and earn great money, but does that necessarily mean that United will sign top and hungry players? No, it doesn’t.

It is also a risk putting all your eggs in one basket – particularly given how Wayne has conducted himself in the past.

I mean, if Sir Alex Ferguson was still in charge then I am not too whether Wayne would have got that contract; but that’s the way David Moyes has elected to do things and that’s his prerogative.

It looks like he wants to build his United team around Rooney. In my opinion, Sir Alex would have wanted Wayne in the team, but he wouldn’t have built a team around him.

Let’s also put this deal into some form of perspective, though – the Glazers pay somewhere in the region of £400,000-a-week in interest alone servicing the debt that they loaded on to the club when they bought it.

More important to United’s resurgence going forward is the return to form of Robin van Persie, and getting Juan Mata integrated into the team.

I mean, if you are looking for more of a consistent return, United could have been better placed spending that £300k per week elsewhere.

Lest we forget, on two separate occasions Wayne has unsettled things at Old Trafford; this is one hell of a loyalty package that United have given him considering the trouble he's nearly caused.

To justify it he has to start producing consistently. He needs to produce for the first time in a World Cup because there are some far better footballers out there who are not earning that money.

And for Rooney to produce the goods means stepping up his fitness and his game. Five or six years ago there was a genuine debate as to who was the better player between Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, but there is no argument now.

Sir Alex Ferguson asked Wayne to get fitter but he took that personally and asked for a move; while Ronaldo dedicated himself to working on his technique and his physique, and was crowned the best player in the world this year. It shows what hard work and dedication can do.

Rooney would have struggled to get into the best United team I played for. Obviously he would not have got in ahead of Eric Cantona and, with both players at their respective peaks, he would have struggled to get in the team ahead of Mark Hughes.

Now he is on that money, he needs to bring consistency to his performances.

Furthermore, if he becomes captain then that brings its own responsibility; he has to control himself. Being captain of Manchester United is different to being captain of a lot of other teams, and he’ll have to do a lot more than put on a captain’s armband and walk on to the pitch.

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Manuel Pellegrini's claim that Manchester City are now a bigger club than United shows that he doesn’t have a lot of experience of British football. In fact, I don’t even think that City fans would go that far.

They have had three good seasons. Just because they have made it through to the knockout stages of the Champions League doesn’t make them the best team in Manchester. This is not the time to come out and start spouting about how far superior they are.

Sure, they have an edge this season - but sometimes silence is golden.

It is a bit naïve to make such a comment this early in the season, particularly considering he has never won a trophy in Europe.

Furthermore, when it mattered against Chelsea in the league, his side got totally out-fought and out-played; it's incredible that he's made this statement of superiority is, in fact, in the wake of a poor performance.

Somewhere along the line, these comments will come back and bite him. Winning things breeds success but they haven’t won anything under him.

United were built slowly on the back of success after success – they didn’t go splashing out money for the sake of it. They earned the right to spend via success on the pitch.

City could end up being like Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle: entertaining and exciting but ultimately coming away empty handed.

He has to win something, but the law of averages says that Pellegrini doesn’t win things: he plays good football, but can he bring trophies to the Etihad? Only time will tell.