Can Rooney rebuild damaged relationships at Manchester United?

Wayne Rooney has alienated his team-mates and can expect some resentment at Old Trafford

By Phillip Hodson published in The Guardian, Friday 22 October 2010

This week’s events are certainly going to leave a sour taste and I’m sure Sir Alex Ferguson will be unhappy about the negative publicity the club have faced, despite ultimately securing his aim. As for the players, I suppose it is a dog-eat-dog world among the Premier League’s elite and there will be resentment at what he’s said and what he’s achieved in securing the contract that may have been the impetus of his behaviour. But that will be tempered by the recognition that if he has had special treatment they too deserve to be treated as special cases, which is something they would all like. In some ways he may have opened the door for them.

The top footballers are like Swiss mercenaries guarding the pope – their loyalty changes with circumstances – and most of his foreign team-mates will recognise that. Rooney will have alienated colleagues he has implied were not up to winning consistently, but he will also have given some of them ideas. He has shown you can break all the normal rules an employee has to abide by and still get a wage rise. I would suggest it’s – not a tactic most would get away with.

Some research a few years ago looked at what happened when you took into account the relationships between players and broadly speaking it showed that they tend to pass more to the team‑mates they like. He may find service from those he has most upset is not as forthcoming as it used to be.

He may have a rough time for a while – to get back onside with his team-mates it may be best to confess the things he said were done for one purpose only, to get what he felt he deserved, and that he has shown them the way forward. He would tell them that he didn’t really mean it and then invite them all to his birthday party or something similar.

The team will only thrive if it pulls together and it probably will, but he may find that the person before him in the shower next time turns the heat right up to maximum before he gets into it, just to let him know they remember his words.

Phillip Hodson is a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

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