London: Manchester United were able to look ahead Saturday to reviving their season after the team and fans were given a boost by Wayne Rooney’s shock decision to sign a new contract just days after appearing to be on his way out of Old Trafford.
Rooney had rocked United on Wednesday by revealing that he wanted to leave the Premier League club because they no longer had enough ambition to compete for major honours.
However, United reopened talks with Rooney’s agent and announced on Friday that the player had made an astonishing u-turn and opted to commit his long-term future to the club.
A statement on the club’s website said: “Wayne Rooney has agreed a new five-year contract to stay at Manchester United until at least June 2015.
Rooney’s decision will give United a boost when they meet Stoke Sunday looking to avoid another away draw.
Although he will not be playing, Rooney will still be the main topic of conversation and observers will be keen to see how news of his contract extension is received by supporters.
United chief executive David Gill claimed Rooney’s decision proved the club is still a Premier League superpower.
“It’s a great day for the club. To those who say Manchester United cannot compete any more, we can - and we will continue to,” he told Sky Sports News.
The agreement follows intensive discussions between the Club and the player’s representatives and means that by the end of his contract Wayne will have been a Manchester United player for 11 years.”
Rooney, who was reportedly demanding wages of around 150,000 pounds (235,664 dollars) a week after tax in the original contract negotiations, insisted he agreed the new deal because Sir Alex Ferguson had convinced him United remain committed to succeeding on the pitch.
“I am delighted to sign another deal at United,” he said. “In the last couple of days, I have talked to the manager and the owners and they have convinced me this is where I belong.
“I said on Wednesday the manager is a genius and it is his belief and support that have convinced me to stay.
“I’m signing a new deal in the absolute belief that the management, coaching staff, board and owners are totally committed to making sure United maintains its proud winning history - which is the reason I joined the club in the first place.”
United manager Ferguson had already revealed earlier in the week that contract talks with Rooney had broken down in August and it seemed certain the former Everton star would be sold.
Ferguson’s comments about Rooney’s failure to show respect for United seemed to signal a breakdown in their relationship, especially as it came after a war of words between the two over the United manager’s decision to rest his star for three matches due to an ankle injury.
But Ferguson said Friday he was delighted with Rooney’s decision: “It’s been a difficult week, but the intensity of the coverage is what we expect at Manchester United.
“I said to the boy that the door is always open and I’m delighted Wayne has agreed to stay.
“Sometimes, when you’re in a club, it can be hard to realise just how big it is and it takes something like the events of the last few days to make you understand.
“I think Wayne now understands what a great club Manchester United is.”
Rooney had been increasingly linked with a move to arch local rivals Manchester City, prompting an angry reaction from fans.
One group protested at his house on Thursday and had to be moved on by police.
Several of the club’s players, including Patrice Evra, had already expressed frustration at the situation.
Rooney’s form in recent months had been well below-par as well and it remains to be seen if he will be welcomed back in the dressing room.
However, Ferguson claimed the player had apologised to him and his team-mates.
“It has been a turbulent few days,” Ferguson told Key103. “We have been hurt by events but Wayne has apologised to me and the players. He will do so with the supporters too.”
Despite the criticism of his attitude this week, Rooney was adamant he had no intention of leaving once Ferguson made it clear that he hadn’t given up on keeping him.
“Once it all came out, it looked as though there was nowhere to go,” Rooney told MUTV.
“But the manager made it quite clear the door was still open for me to sign. The club still wanted me to sign.”