Leading article: Fancy footwork

Well that was a surprise. One minute Wayne Rooney was adamant that he was leaving Manchester United. The next he had signed a new five-year contract.

If this was all part of a calculated plan by the player to extract more money from his club, it was remarkably well disguised. As the Rooney episode demonstrates, there is something satisfying about a shameless, gear-crunching, brake-squealing U-turn.

The most irritating kinds of reversals are those that the perpetrator attempts to disguise, or those which are broadcast in advance to make them appear less ridiculous when they finally take place. Rooney has shown how the U-turn should be done: no disguise and no explanation.

Will it work out? That depends on whether Rooney can still change direction as quickly on the football pitch as he did in his contract negotiations yesterday.