Wayne Rooney's World Cup woes seemed a distant memory yesterday after he won a
multi-million pound court battle and learned of an imminent £130,000-a-week contract offer by Manchester United.
The England striker, a forlorn figure during a dismal World Cup campaign for himself and his country, expressed his delight after his former agents’ £8.3million claim for lost earnings, later modified to £4.3m, was thrown out by a judge at Manchester County Court.
More good news followed for the 24-year-old after it emerged United are ready to open
talks on a five-year deal, complete with a £30,000-a-week pay rise.
United vowed to quash interest in Rooney from Real Madrid by discussing new terms with him after the World Cup, and chief executive David Gill hopes to reach an agreement with his agent Paul Stretford before the season starts.
Stretford was in court to hear Judge Brendan Hegarty QC dismiss sports management firm Proactive’s claim.
The claim was based on commission they felt they were due from multi-million pound
deals involving Rooney, and was launched after founder member Stretford left amid
acrimony, and took the firm’s star client with him, in 2008.
But the judge ruled the eight-year contract Rooney signed with them, after establishing himself in Everton’s team at just 17, amounted to a restraint of trade.
Even after reducing their initial figure, based on future as well as past earnings, to £4.3m, Proactive still lost out and walked away with just £5,000.
Rooney said: ‘Coleen and I have always been happy to pay all commissions due to the people who were owed them, but these sums were a joke, and we felt they were just an attempt to exploit us.
‘Fortunately, the judge has knocked back their massively over-inflated claims and we are happy to pay the very small sum awarded. Going to court was the last thing I wanted to do.
‘I was shocked that a company which represents some of Britain’s biggest entertainers was going down this road, which meant that private financial and commercial matters were made public. But you always have to fight for what’s right in life.’
Judge Hegarty rejected an application to appeal from the firm’s lawyers, who may take the matter to the Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson insists Rooney will not suffer a World Cup hangover, but admits the striker may regret not making the most of his opportunity.
‘I don’t expect a hangover,’ said Ferguson. ‘I think there’ll still be a bit of disappointment in the lad. I think all the players coming back from the World Cup who
didn’t do well, who didn’t reach their expectations, may I say, will feel that they’ve missed something. That’s because the World Cup’s only once every four years — that’s the horrible part.
‘We have several players who have come back very disappointed. We’ve Patrice Evra,
for instance, Wayne Rooney, of course, and Nemanja Vidic.’
This will be the second time the country has hosted the competition, the first being the 1950 FIFA World Cup. Brazil will become the fifth country to have hosted the FIFA World Cup twice, after Mexico, Italy, France and Germany. It will be the first World Cup to be held in South America since the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina, and the first time two consecutive World Cups are staged in the Southern Hemisphere.
The African Vibe
Africa was handed a golden opportunity to convey, as a continent, its passion and dedication to the game, and without their fervent support, World Cup 2010 would have been a damp squib.
Instead, the unequivocal backing of the hosts behind their national team, Vuvuzelas and all, endeared the Bafana Bafana to the watching billions and made an honorary South Africa fan out of all of us.
Ghana represented Africa in the quarter-finals, becoming only the third nation do so after Cameroon and Senegal, and but for a cruel twist of fate could have been the inaugural semi-finalists. Their graciousness in defeat, and indeed the swashbuckling style that steered them so well, was a prolonging memory of this, a multi-cultural and overwhelmingly peaceful event.
While the repeated 1-0 scorelines may offer a different story, Spain’s footballing philosophy ultimately ousted the negative, stifling tactics that threatened to undermine the tournament.
Despite struggling in front of goal, La Furia Roja had a completed passes total of close to 3,500 at the tournament end, almost 1,000 more than the Oranje, and during South Africa 2010 they finally merged beautiful build-up with European efficiency, creating a force that proved worthy of the greatest title the game can offer.
Xavi, Iniesta, and instrumentally David Villa were the integral cogs in this incessant Spanish machine, and now a golden generation finally glitters.
Before every World Cup begins, the potential winners are selected and the whipping boys disregarded, but for a number a lesser lights, South Africa will be a tournament to savour.
New Zealand, the rank outsiders, managed to exit the tournament unbeaten, while Slovakia exceeded a nation’s expectations by narrowly losing out to the eventual finalists, the Netherlands.
Elsewhere, North Korea’s goal against Brazil made their efforts worthwhile, while Mexico and Uruguay confounded the odds (and history) to progress, with the latter reminiscing from the memories of their forefathers by finishing in fourth place. All in all, many underdogs had their day in South Africa.
There is simply no defending FIFA’s decision to sanction the use of a ball that took the players weeks to comprehend, and that drastically reduced the amount of long-range goals in this tournament.
Goal.com, with the assistance of former Dutch striker Clive Wijnhard, recently carried out a number of experiments on the much-maligned Adidas creation (see the video here), and the steady decline of the fundamental equipment of the sport from spherical consistency to unpredictable ba-lunacy has left players and goalkeepers alike cursing its use.
The World Cup is supposed to be the breeding ground of greats, where club football form aligns itself with the international stage, and the opportunity for infamy is born.
Unfortunately, World Cup 2010 saw more Flops than Tops, with those that have excelled at club level failing to transmit their domestic form into that of the national team dynamic.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Lionel Messi were among those who arrived with top billing but were overshadowed by effervescent youngsters and understated nearly men, and in the end, produced an unexpected final foursome.
Goal.com’s review of controversial decisions can give you a concise deconstruction of some of the major errors that have blighted this tournament, and have opened the door for numerous debates as to the future of the games’ officiating.
But the petty, unjust red cards combined with ridiculous offside calls and a generally below-par display from the refereeing teams that FIFA had championed has led the governing body into a curious re-assessment of its assignment of its representatives, and consideration of the implementation of video evidence.
2010 could be remembered as the year when technology became no longer an option, but a necessity.
The showpiece event that bookends football’s biggest tournament is rarely a free-flowing spectacle, but observers had hoped that two European underachievers could come together to create a final for the ages.
However, the Oranje came to the realisation early in the contest that they could not compete with Spain on their terms, and so descended into an attempt to suffocate their superior opponents rather than play them at their own game.
As a result, the likes of Van Bommel and De Jong were administered to subdue and dispel the threat of the Barcelona-based quartet that led the line for La Furia Roja. As a result, the yellow cards accumulated, and ultimately, the Netherlands sacrificed a modern brand of total football in favour of a more universal, contemptuous approach.
Despite numerous attempts to eradicate its stench from the sport, cheating managed to seep its way into the tournament and undermine what was in the main a well-behaved and courteous display by all competing players.
Kader Keita’s blatant attempt to ensure Kaka was dismissed was a particular lowlight, as was Joan Capdevila versus Portugal. However, Luis Suarez’s blatant handball in the quarter-final match versus Uruguay, as instinctive as it was, took a shine from the South American’s sensational run to fourth place.
Unfortunately, the Ajax man’s celebration after his Hand of God impersonation will prove to be a lasting memory that eclipses FIFA’s fair play mantra, and one that left Africa with a feeling of dissatisfaction for the remainder of the tournament.
The commentary that accompanied the South African tradition was infinitely more tiresome than the event itself, and glossed over the pride that followers of Bafana Bafana attempted to display from their unique brand of expression.
Whilst the noise was a new experience to European travellers, the overreaction to their use at games was as much to do with the tepid nature of the opening fixtures as the disturbance they caused to the match atmosphere.
In the end, the uninitiated feared a global epidemic, while Africa simply wanted to showcase their heritage to the watching world.
The midfielder's extra-time winner for Spain sunk a sorrowful Dutch team who had their chances to win the match. The Barcelona star struck with a fine volley deep in the additional half hour to crown Spain world champions for the first time.
It's unknown whether British-born Paul knew that the winner would not come in the regulation 90 minutes, but if he did he certainly kept quiet about it. Nevertheless, the Octopus corrected his previous European Championship final mistake by predicting Spain to win this time around to complete an eight out of eight record for the World Cup.
After the game, Iniesta commented on Foxsports: "The Octopus will be very popular in Spain."
Paul predicted the only losses of the tournament for both Holland and Germany.
We all hope Paul will still be fed properly now the World Cup is over and wonder if he is any good at club football...
Goalkeeper Foster this week secured a £6million move from United to Birmingham, and the 27-year-old's remarks are likely to stir up anger in the supporters he is leaving behind at Old Trafford.
The Red Knights group of wealthy United supporters have recently promised to attempt to oust the Glazers from the club, which is carrying debts in excess of £700million.
Led by leading investment banker and former United director Jim O'Neill, the Red Knights have been inching towards lodging a formal bid for the Old Trafford outfit, which had been anticipated prior to the World Cup's opening game on June 11.
However Foster believes the club is functioning well and suggests fans could make a greater contribution by diverting their energies.
He said: "There's maybe too much made of it by the supporters. They are obviously passionate about Manchester United, but sometimes they need to focus on supporting the club a bit more than getting carried away with the technicalities of who's in charge.
"Personally, I think the Glazers have always put money in to Manchester United to buy players when needed. Having said that, I don't think the manager needs to buy too many players there anyway. They have a lot of good youngsters coming through the ranks."
You can't blame Cesc Fabregas for wanting to leave a club as dismally unambitious as Arsene Wenger's Arsenal
But that promise has not been fulfilled. Arsenal went backwards this season, not forwards. We got humiliated in all the big games, by Chelsea, Manchester United and, most unedifyingly, by Barcelona. Yet still Wenger stubbornly refused to get his chequebook out and do anything about it.
I suspect something died inside Fabregas in January, when Arsenal were still in the race for the Premier League and Champions League, and the fans were screaming for more firepower to give us the best chance possible. Wenger bought just one player, 35-year-old Sol Campbell. This despite the Arsenal board insisting he had significant funds to spend.
I met Fabregas at a charity fashion show soon after the transfer window had ended and he couldn’t hide his disappointment at the lack of big signings.
The dream has died: Cesc Fabregas looks set to depart Arsenal - and Piers can't blame him
When Barcelona came knocking again last week, just after signing one of the world’s great strikers, David Villa, to play alongside the sublime Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the dazzling Leo Messi, it can’t have taken young Cesc very long to do the maths.
He wants to win things. And let’s be brutally honest here, he’s not going to win anything at Arsenal as long as the current defeatist mentality continues to exist at the club. I’m astonished how many Gooners seem content to just put up with what’s happening at the Emirates. ‘We’re playing great football,’ they blindly insist to me.
Which is true, apart from when we play any really good team — and then we get thrashed off the park. ‘We can’t afford to buy any top players,’ they recite, parrot fashion. A statement which is poppycock given the huge revenues pouring in from the new stadium.
‘Wenger knows what he’s doing,’ they nod, sagely. To which I’ve begun to reply: ‘DOES he?’
I’ll admit that I’m not a good loser. I’m so competitive that when Amanda Holden once asked me to sponsor her in the
Z London Marathon and said Simon Cowell had offered £1,000, I immediately stumped up £1,001.
And I hate Arsenal not winning anything. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
I wouldn’t mind if I genuinely believed we had the potential to do so but I don’t. All I’m seeing is other clubs getting stronger as we get weaker. And if, or should I say when, Fabregas leaves, it will mean that Wenger’s youth experiment has failed.
You can’t bang on about grooming rookies to conquer the world, then let the best one (and our captain) go before you’re anywhere near the summit.
I continue to believe Wenger’s a brilliant man — intelligent, charming, sophisticated and loyal. But sadly, I’ve stopped believing in his strategy for improving Arsenal’s ability to win trophies. And the impending departure of Fabregas merely serves to cement that view.
Thanks for the ride, Cesc, I’m just very, very sorry that our dismal lack of ambition forced you to quit.
Now the FA need a man like Dein
I’ve known Gary Lineker a long time (we have sons in the same school) and I like and respect the man. But I think he’s wrong about this Lord Triesman business.
The right man for the job: Dein
You can’t have a Football Association chairman accusing other countries of bribery and corruption, on the record or off it. Nor one behaving like a dumb, lovestruck teenager with a 37-year-old gold-digger.
Not when you’re trying to garner international support for your World Cup bid and when you’ve stripped John Terry of the England captaincy for matters related to alleged carnal misconduct.
The randy old goat behaved like the classic old fool of old fools and was right to step down.
But I don’t think it will make much difference to our chances of winning the bid. I imagine the most common reaction of anyone south of Dover to the scandal was ‘Lord who?’
More pertinently, I never thought Triesman was any good to start with.
What the FA need at the helm is someone like David Dein, a football man to his shinpads and a highly skilful negotiator.
Arsenal haven’t been the same since he was forced out of the club. But our loss could, and should, be the FA’s gain.
Avram Grant claims that resigning from debt-ridden, relegated Portsmouth was ‘one of the most difficult decisions of my career’. To which I say: ‘Tosh.’
Sir Alex Ferguson says his Manchester United squad’s good enough and he won’t be buying big in the transfer market this summer.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho’s heading to the Bernabeu, where he’ll take a good, long look at the already fantastic Real Madrid squad, then spend money like a Goldman Sachs banker at Royal Ascot.
Proven winner: Mourinho
And that’s why he’ll carry on winning trophies at United’s expense and why United should have retired Sir Alex and brought Mourinho to Old Trafford.
He understands the truth of the maxim ‘speculate to accumulate’ and wouldn’t put up with the ghastly Glazers’ penny-pinching.
Typical, isn’t it? I take a week off writing this column and England win the cricket Twenty20 World Cup. What a game, though. By the end, the Australians looked like we’d shot every kangaroo, dingo and Crocodile Dundee lookalike that exists on the planet.
Paul Collingwood’s men were magnificent, there’s no other word for it. For which he and coach Andy Flower must take huge credit. But one man was unquestionably more magnificent than others.
Kevin Pietersen’s been through a tough old year. He missed most of the Ashes campaign through an achilles injury, struggled in his comeback tour to South Africa and began to attract the kind of sniping criticism we Brits so adore when our sporting heroes take a dip in form.
Daddy of the all: Pietersen
Every time I defended him in this column, insisting he was the best batsman England have had in decades, emails would pour in mocking me and abusing Pietersen. Now my inbox has gone rather quiet.
KP averaged 83 in the series against Bangladesh, 59 in the Indian Premier League (he headed the batting figures) and 62 in the World Cup, scoring 248 runs at a strike rate of 137. And he’s been
batting with a power, freedom and creative genius that has surely confirmed him as the world’s most dangerous player.
What I love about this guy is that he never once moaned to me about the critics or his temporary loss of form. He just worked harder in the nets and let his bat do the talking.
Pietersen became a father for the first time two weeks ago. Which is appropriate because, as the battered, bruised Aussies will discover Down Under this winter, he’s The Daddy.
Have your say
Dear Clever Clogs, I kept your predictions for the 2009-10 football season (Mail on Sunday of 9.8.09). All you got right was that Robbie Keane would leave Spurs, Newcastle would be promoted and Burnley and Hull would go down. My wife could have told you that and she thinks Wayne Rooney is ‘a good kicker’.
These are the worst of your list: Manchester United will fail to finish in the top two. WRONG!
Torres will be top scorer in the Premier League. WRONG!
Wolves will be relegated. WRONG!
Portsmouth will be absolutely fine. JUST A BIT WRONG!
Roy Keane will quit Ipswich. WRONG!
And finally, Liverpool will win the Premier League. MILES OUT!!
Stick to Britain’s Got Talent, mate!
Piers says: ‘Not great, I admit. But you forgot 'Bolton will bore the bojangles out of everyone”. I was right about that.’
Do you think Beckham will be awarded his umpteenth cap for travelling to Africa as England coach? It was my belief you needed ‘written’ qualifications for that job, not be a one-footed, one-paced, no-heading-ability player.
Piers says: ‘I think Beckham’s going as a multi-lingual translator.’
Could you buy Sam Allardyce a couple of new shirts, that actually fit him?
A D IMRIE
Piers says: ‘I think he bursts them. He’s not called Big Sam for nothing.’