Rooney and Ferguson, Man & Boy United after PR Wars

Man and Boy United?

So, after all that, Rooney signs a new contract. Well, that scuppers my original blog on the PR battle between the two biggest egos at Old Trafford. I was going to suggest that whatever the outcome, United and Ferguson had gained more support from the neutrals and the United support and that Rooney had severed his ties with Old Trafford forever.

I also was going to suggest that Brand Rooney – like “Honest John Terry” before him had suffered irrevocably. That may still prove to be the case. The response from United and England fans will make interesting viewing.

What was going on here? Was it brinkmanship from both parties? Pure greed from Rooney or bad advice from his agent? Or was there an even more devious plot brewing? Was it a three-pronged attack by United, Ferguson and Rooney to “call out” the doubters, open the door a crack and then slam it in the faces of the brave few who had tried to sneak a peek behind the wizard’s curtain inside the “Theatre of Dreams”?

It was certainly incredibly unusual for Ferguson to show such emotion and vulnerability during his press conference, you can watch the video of that here Then, in response, came what was perceived by many in the press as an outrageously arrogant statement by Rooney in which he accused the club of lacking ambition and he would have to move on. By lacking ambition, many observers read lacking cash – or enough to tempt the likes of Wayne anyway.

It’s been a hugely turbulent time for Rooney the man/boy/husband/father/player and one can’t help but feel he has lacked the advice he needed along the way. Ironically, in recent times, that has come from Ferguson himself. In the meantime, two major sporting icons have been embroiled in a very public PR spat whilst a world-leading brand that was perceived to be flagging has emerged once again as a contender…for now, but at what cost. Both financially and in terms of reputation for all parties the long-term results remain to be seen.

The Press For Attention Prescription

PR is all about results and objectives. If Rooney wanted more cash. He has won. If Ferguson and United wanted to garner some sympathy, they won there to an extent too. The “football family” was up in arms about this one, especially the brilliant Ian Holloway who let fly at all and sundry just yesterday. United also won the main battle in that they have kept Wayne Rooney. So, all’s well that ends well? No, not really. Whilst the results may have been what was wanted at the start, the extreme methods have left a bad taste in the mouth of many, especially those who championed Rooney as the salt of the earth, jumpers for goalposts type.

If anyone emerges from this with any credit it should be Ferguson and his advisors. The unusual display of emotion, coupled with key brand messages about “ambition, potential, romance and history” added to the Manchester United brand and showed a new side to Sir Alex. Rooney threatened that brand, fleetingly, once the rumours surfaced and were confirmed. Now, with order restored, Rooney’s flirtations may be a bigger danger to the brand and relationship further down the road. He has a lot of work to do to restore his old image.