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Opinion Piece

200 not out for fickle fans’ favourite

web-rooney-gettyIt would have been the perfect opportunity to clear the air once and for all.

Nobody expected an apology, nor demanded one, for Rooney’s character is as proud as it is complex and the 27-year-old was never going to crawl back towards the Stretford End waving a white flag and begging us to take him back.

Rooney, however, palmed the questions away like a batsman digging in to defend the last two balls of the over, determined not to give himself out before the close of play.

“Listen, I’ve concentrated on working hard to get my head down to get myself fit and ready for the season. I’m delighted with the way I’ve come back and delighted I’m back playing and scoring goals,” said Rooney when asked if he was happy at Old Trafford.

“Listen, I’ve just told you I’m concentrating on my football.

“The fans have been brilliant, they have been fantastic with me. It’s great the reception I get here and hopefully I can repay them with performances and goals like tonight.”

Having caught the interview long after the game I, like many others, wondered why Rooney had passed up the opportunity of putting the icing on his comeback cake on the night when he became only the fourth player in United’s history to score 200 goals for the club – a fantastic achievement, whatever your feelings for the player might be.

Rooney didn’t commit his future to the club because, rather worryingly, he doesn’t have to. Having agitated for a move for the second time in three years, Rooney has managed to get the overwhelming majority of the fans on his side within a couple of weeks, completely overturning the situation in which he was the one supposed to be short of bargaining power.

Out of sheer conviction or out of desperation, many Reds have come to accept that the player many of them wanted out of the club this summer, is now an important, arguably integral, part of David Moyes’ XI – and undoubtedly one of the best players at the club – and have quickly revised their stance.

As I listened to the “Roooooooooooooney, Roooooooooooooney” chants last night, I wondered how quickly things have turned around and how forgiving – fickle? – some Reds are. The same people who goad about Steven Gerrard handing in a transfer request before kissing the badge on his chest and laughed at Carlos Tevez’ theatrics at City, have forgiven Rooney almost immediately.

They point to the fact that Rooney never publicly stated he wanted to leave, nor did he fail to turn up for training as Gareth Bale did, and that he should be forgiven, have his name chanted and be made feel at home.

Fans who fail to comply with such regulations will automatically be labeled as disloyal and bombarded with the question “Would you rather we were without him?”

Wayne Rooney is a Manchester United player and as such he has my full support when he pulls on the red shirt, but he should feel proud to be playing for the club, rather than acting as if the club were lucky to be counting on him.

And if committing your future to the club is really such a painful thing to do, Wayne, then perhaps you should complain with your agent.

To each their own, but marriages borne out of convenience have never cut it for me.