Gray: Rooney will be United legend
Rooney agreed a new five-year contract with the Red Devils on Friday, ending days of speculation over the striker’s future at Old Trafford after he had initially refused to pen fresh terms and stated his desire to leave.
The sensational turnaround means Rooney will now remain with United until 2015, and Gray believes he has made the right decision.
“I was never one of those that believed the door was suddenly closed,” Gray said.
“A lot of people were saying Wayne Rooney was heading for the exit at Old Trafford, but I didn’t get that impression from Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I think the one statement Sir Alex made that everyone should have listened to was when he said ‘we will end this very quickly, this has to be dealt with’ and Manchester United have dealt with it in some style and some pace.
“So I’m surprised that it happened so quickly but not that surprised that Wayne has decided to stay. There are few clubs that he could have gone to better than Manchester United, if any.”
Rooney, who celebrates his 25th birthday on Sunday, has had a torrid few months, with stories concerning his life off the field a factor in his loss of confidence and form.
But Gray was quick to support the player and has full faith that fans can start to expect the Wayne Rooney of old.
“There's not a footballer alive that doesn’t suffer a loss in form,” Gray said. “It’s impossible to play at the level he’s been playing at for the best part of six years and not have a dip in form.
“He’s had that, for various reasons, professional, personal, I think they’ve all contributed to a downturn in his form. But class is permanent and form is temporary, and that certainly will apply to Wayne.
“With greatness, you need longevity. In the way that [Paul] Scholes, [Ryan] Giggs and Bobby Charlton have had. If Wayne continues to go the way he has then after 11 years at this club, I’m pretty sure that Wayne Rooney will achieve legendary status.”
The past week’s events have demonstrated the sheer power that players and their agents now have over clubs, and Gray believes the incident has highlighted how times have changed.
“Sadly, it’s the world we live in. We’re always going to here from agents these days, and we’re stuck with it.
“Any other massive player in the future that has a problem with his club, then you can bet your life we will be hearing lots from that player’s agent.”
There will undoubtedly be United fans that remain unhappy with the way Rooney and his agent dealt with the situation, but Gray insists it will only be a matter of time for the striker to win them round.
“I’m sure there are one or two fans that Wayne has upset. But they will quickly fall back into line and continue to love him in the way they have for the last six years.
“With Wayne, not only will Manchester United’s medal cupboard increase, they will all be quite happy."
By Luke Nicholls