Connect in the back of the net

Wayne Rooney’s reported intention to leave Manchester United by the time his contract had expired came as a shock to United fans. While Rooney’s reported desire to leave the club was an unpleasant surprise for supporters, it’s hardly unprecedented.

A number of superstar players had left Manchester United after falling out with then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

 

Carlos Tevez

Argentine striker Carlos Tevez joined Manchester United in a blaze of controversy in the summer of 2007.

Technically the property of private company Media Sports Investments, Manchester United battled West Ham United for the player’s services, with a settlement finally being agreed between all the parties involved before the saga made it to court.

Tevez’s determination on the pitch quickly established him as a fan favourite but wasn’t enough to persuade United to get the player signed to a permanent deal.

Although reports indicated that Manchester United were eventually prepared to shell out the £25.5 million requested by Media Sports Investment, the latest Tevez transfer saga dragged on too long and he eventually wound up moving across town to super-rich rivals Manchester City.

Manchester City heralded their new signing with billboards around Manchester featuring Carlos Tevez in his new blue uniform and the slogan ‘Welcome to Manchester’.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo joined Manchester United from Sporting Lisbon for £12.5 million in 2003 and left for Real Madrid for £80 million six years later.

During his time at United, Ronaldo helped the team to numerous domestic trophies and their first Champions League title in almost a decade. Along the way Ronaldo scored almost 300 goals and picked up the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year Award.

The accolades inevitably led Ronaldo to pursue a higher salary. Favourable tax conditions in Spain allowed Real Madrid to make him the highest paid footballer on the planet. Ronaldo left praising the role Alex Ferguson played in his development.

His words will have done little to take the sting out of his move to United’s hated Spanish rivals, who Ferguson famously once said he wouldn’t sell a virus.

 

Ruud van Nistelrooy

Alex Ferguson hasn’t yet sold Real Madrid a virus but he has been forced to hand them several of his star players.

Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy scored an impressive 150 goals in less than 200 starts during his five seasons at United, but this didn’t stop Alex Ferguson from relegating Van Nistelrooy to the bench for several games towards the end of his final season with the club.

Speculation about his future ran rife after Van Nistelrooy was told he’d been on the bench for the last game of Manchester United’s 2005/06 Premier League season and Van Nistelrooy decided to go home instead, leaving the stadium three hours before kick-off.

A training session punch-up with Cristiano Ronaldo in May 2006 has been cited as a likely reason that Van Nistelrooy fell out of favour with the boss. Van Nistelrooy joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2006 for €24 million.

 

Roy Keane

Irish midfielder Roy Keane seemed certain to stay with Manchester United for his entire career, having spent twelve very successful years at the heart of their midfield.

Keane’s notorious temper brought his United career to a close. His temper had previously prompted an argument with Ireland coach Mick McCarthy that led to Keane being sent home early from the 2002 World Cup.

Roy Keane and Alex Ferguson shared numerous arguments, with perhaps the biggest following a damning appraisal Keane gave of record new signing Rio Ferdinand for MUTV in response to the defender being hailed as a superstar.

Keane left for boyhood heroes Celtic in December 2005.

Despite the differences between Keane and Ferguson, the Manchester United manager organized a testimonial game between United and Celtic in recognition of Keane’s 12 years at the club.

The game drew the largest crowd of any testimonial ever played in England.

 

David Beckham

English icon David Beckham rose through Manchester United’s youth system to become the world’s most famous footballer.

Beckham’s renown brought him big money through endorsement deals but also prompted him to haggle with his club over payments for image rights.

Though Manchester United yielded to their star player’s demands, it was an early indication of an inevitable split between England’s most famous footballer and England’s most famous football club.

When Alex Ferguson struck Beckham with a boot and left him needing stitches above his eye after a 2003 FA Cup loss to Arsenal, speculation about Beckham’s future reached fever pitch.

He left at the end of the 2002/03 season, one of many Manchester United superstars to join Real Madrid. Like Cristiano Ronaldo several years later, the move to Madrid helped Beckham earn more than any other footballer on the planet.

 

Written by Christopher Thomas Williams

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