Does new £300K contract make Rooney a target at Manchester United?

Wayne Rooney

Manchester United and England No.10 Wayne Rooney has signed a new contract with the club worth a reported £300,000 per week until 2019.

The 28-year-old Red Devils striker is set to become the highest paid player at Old Trafford where he arrived a decade ago in 2004 from Everton.

However, whilst the contract is good news for United fans, manager David Moyes and certainly the player himself, does it make him a target for criticism and even abuse?

I was at Selhurst Park on Saturday where Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 2-0 and even from the opposite side of the ground I could see the Palace fans throwing ‘missiles’ (coins and such) at the striker when he went to take a corner kicks. However, what was not covered in the mainstream media was that Rooney was the target of abuse prior to kick off as he came towards the tunnel from the pre-match warm up.

I’m not asserting that Palace fans are in the wrong particularly here – I heard some (the minority) shouting that he wasn’t worth his £300,000-a-week deal and, of course, the England international who has an abundance of experience in handling pressure, abuse and criticism, completely ignored the jibes as he went through the tunnel. It's just another day at the office for professional footballers.

My assertion is that this new contract puts pressure on him to perform which, this season he certainly has been. In fact, under new boss David Moyes in what has been a difficult season characterised by transition from the Sir Alex Ferguson era, Rooney has been the Red Devils best and most consistent performer.

But, that said, it was not the case last term – Rooney put in some lacklustre performances last season and struggled to find his fitness, form and confidence and that’s part and parcel of the game. Players go through periods of good and bad form, especially forwards, but over the course of the next five years, that could and likely will reoccur and, if and when it does, Rooney may find himself on the end of some stick.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he is more of a target for criticism and abuse now because everyone in the country knows how much he is earning and that gives him even more responsibility and the added pressure that goes with it.

He may well be handed the captain’s armband at the end of the season when Nemanja Vidic leaves and that will be another measure of how much trust is placed in him by the club.

But with that trust and with that money comes an unwritten clause in the contract that requires him to be the leader, the key player and the driving force he is capable of being.

The problem may be that he is going to need to be the Wayne Rooney we know he can be three times a week for the next five years without fail or the finger of blame is going to be pointed straight at him – not just from the media, opposition fans but from his own fans too.

image: © nasmac

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