Firstly, the latest episode
It must be interesting to walk around the mind of Mr Wayne Rooney. I can’t imagine for one minute what goes on in that head of his; this guy is a 25-year-old millionaire who is already a husband and father, a role model and hero to millions, the face of major brands, has his own TV show, and plays for the most high profile of teams; this is not a normal human being. The pressure of being Wayne Rooney must be huge … and the cracks are starting to show after his latest outburst.
It wouldn’t be the first time a professional footballer has hit the self destruct button; it has been a dominant trait in footballers for years. The three that stick in my mind are Gazza, Best, and Maradona, they had the world at their feet and they ultimately blew it. Some of the best players to ever grace a football pitch, but all of them fundamentally flawed.
I think it’s important for everyone to remember that the psyche of most footballers is different to the majority of people on the street. Pro footballers have a very different life to the normal man and the bubble that the top players live in can cause them to lose touch with the reality that we know.
It is the small things that mean footballers don’t develop in the same way as the rest of society. They get taught no social skills or business skills and instead they are protected from the ‘real world’, hidden away, molly coddled, but ultimately they become someone’s cash cow. I am not saying this still happens to the youngsters now – there is great work at academy level teaching kids about how to exist with and without a football career. I know Watford FC do this at the Harefield training academy. But previously young future-stars were unprepared for the pressures a career in football can bring, particularly at the highest level and Rooney fits this category.
Rooney could be the next high profile player to crack. His talent has never been in question and since 16 years old he has achieved a remarkable amount. But along the way we have seen a lot of controversy; multiple sending’s off in important matches, telling fans what he thought of them via the TV cameras, tabloid allegations of infidelity, talk of his booze and smoking habits, reportedly hitting his wife, and now a foul mouthed rant on live TV. What’s Rooney’s problem?
After more controversy how many times can this guy come back, how many chances will he be given? Whispers from some sources at United say that Fergie is concerned with Rooney’s behaviour and we all know Fergie can wield the axe quicker than a lumberjack at a tree convention.
I think that Rooney’s actions against West Ham showed us a lot of things; first and foremost how much pressure he has been under this season. Obviously he hasn’t had the best of times on the pitch. A poor World Cup in the summer and a bad season for United. The reason must be psychological as we all know he can be one of the best in the right circumstances. But this latest outburst could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Rooney hit the neglines (negative headlines) in October last year, when once again he was badly advised by former Hoover sales man Paul Stretford to leave United and Ferguson was none too pleased. He signed a new deal, but a lot of people say the writing was on the wall then. United knew he could not be controlled and were keen to tie him up to command a big fee for his services in the summer.
‘Mr 40 per cent’ Paul Stretford is in charge of guiding Rooney’s career off the pitch. Obviously he is not doing a very good job. Now Rooney will be hit with a 2 match ban, at a time when his club and manager need him the most – it is the instability of the man that means Rooney surely can’t have long left at United; you can’t afford loose cannons who cannot learn from their mistakes, and Fergie has demonstrated before that he is not afraid to sell his biggest guns when he thinks the time is right.
I think this latest incident has show what an emotional and vulnerable character Wayne is. I think life on and off the pitch is pushing the most talented English footballer towards breaking point. He already needed to turn this season around and finish strongly, what better way to do it than with a hat-trick when your side are 2-0 down, but instead the curse of ‘Rooney the Looney’ strikes again. I wouldn’t be too surprised if his United career was over before he even knew it, but above that, I just hope Rooney does not become the next Gazza.