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Shades Of Grey

By Tim Button  : 07/05/01
Despite the satisfactory if unspectacular progress made this season, has there ever been a time in which Evertonians have been so divided? Be it the position of the manager, chairman or location of the proposed new stadium it seems to be increasingly difficult to find two Blues who share the same opinion on anything.

Whatever side of the fence you may sit on, the truth is that the issues currently fuelling debate in and around Goodison are not straightforward. The world is a grey place and rarely as black and white as passionate protagonists of one point-of-view would like to paint it.

This week yet another issue raised its ugly head to divide us…. a certain Wayne Rooney, the one time boy-wonder was back at Goodison Park. It wasn’t his badge kissing antics… we all agreed that was classless and deliberately provocative but three years on, who we should ultimately blame for his departure rubbles on.

The vast majority who boo and abuse his every touch blame Rooney himself, believing that inspired by greed or more likely a prematurely inflated opinion of his own importance he couldn’t get out of Merseyside quickly enough. Then the are the conspiracy theorists who would have you believe that it was the evil machinations of the Everton board that forced little Wayne out of the door.

Like the other issues previously mentioned here, we are all entitled to our own opinions but surely with the Rooney transfer those who choose to use his sale to beat the club over the back really need some cold hard evidence to support their claims. More than a rumour whispered in a pub from somebody who knew somebody else who knows Paul Stretford.

I for one have no doubt some in the Everton boardroom advocated his sale when his stock was highest after Euro 2004. Considering the club’s perilous financial position it would surely have been a dereliction of duty not to have adleast considered cashing in on a player whose form the previous season had been less than impressive. I also accept that Rooney and his agent, Paul Stretford would have been aware of this and certainly unsettled by it. What I don’t believe is that the deal was done between the clubs twelve months before and taken out of Rooney’s hands. If this was the case surely Mr. Stretford would have insisted the whole thing be manufactured in such a way as to soften the sense of betrail and protect his client. Wouldn’t Rooney have been quick to point this out is his biography rather than the far less convincing excuse of a fall out with the manager which he is now seemingly set to be sued over.

How do you imagine the conversation that was the catalyst for the whole episode really started?

“Hello, Paul this is Bill Kenwright calling”

“Hi, Bill what can I do for you”

“Well I’m afraid we’re in a mess and we need to cash in on Wayne, can you set something up”

“Of course I can, what are you after”

“Well I know Wayne loves the club and is itching to sign a new contract… that puts us in a very strong position… a down payment of Ł10m should be enough”

“Are you sure Bill…I think I can do a lot better than that”

“We don’t want to frighten any interested parties off… oh, and we also want Wayne to put in an official transfer request…he can take the flak, I’ve just bought a new car and I don’t want angry yobs jumping on it thanks very much Paul”

“That’s fine Bill what’s a few death threats compared to your paint work and my 10%… I’m sure Wayne won’t mind being hated in his home city… I’ll get to it straight away”

“Thanks, Paul speak to you soon, bye love”

Surely no one can really believe that’s how the Rooney saga played out… can they? He may have been persuaded by his agent, possibly even his team-mates at club and country but ultimately the decision was his and his alone.

Possibly Bill Kenwright was allowing his heart to rule his head but it seems he genuinely campaigned to keep him and along with David Moyes believed a great team could be built around Rooney rather than financed by his departure. Not everybody behind the scenes at Goodison might have agreed but significantly the big guns offered the player a chance to extend his Everton career and it was snubbed, Rooney choosing Manchester glory ahead of Everton adoration.

His book, press conference and perhaps more tellingly his on-field actions tell you it was Rooney who turned his back on Everton Football Club not the other way around. No one will have expected Wayne to reject the riches and medals on offer forever but if he really was the passionate Evertonian he claimed to be surely he would have wanted to cement his place in the Goodison Hall of Fame first. Perhaps if Rooney had he would have guaranteed his place in our affections instead of being vilified by some and subject of ill-judged conspiracy theories by others.


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