Sport Soccer

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Spoiled brat will be indulged for as long as he delivers

Tommy Conlon

I t seems that like many of his fellow louts from the Jeremy Kyle classes, Wayne Rooney struggles to see beyond his own self-pity.

He is another yob convinced that he's a victim. They must pick it up young, along with the junk food and the shiny tracksuits, this persecution complex. It is always somebody else's fault; I did nothing wrong; what are you blaming me for?

Eight days ago, he scored a hat-trick against West Ham at Upton Park. After he scored his third he ran to a pitch-side television camera and spat a string of swear words as he stared it down. He apologised in a statement afterwards. On Monday, the FA suspended him for two games. Rooney appealed. On Thursday, the FA rejected the appeal. Rooney issued another statement. Denial? Check. They're picking on me? Check. Feeling sorry for himself? Check.

"I am gutted to miss two matches, one of which is an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. I am not the first player to have sworn on television and I won't be the last. Unlike others who have been caught swearing on camera, I apologised immediately. And yet I am the only person banned for swearing."

But he wasn't "caught" on camera. He deliberately went straight to the sideline cameraman and only started swearing when he got right up close and personal. Players can be seen swearing every week on television but not because they've gone out of their way to be seen. It's usually in the heat of a game, when they've missed a chance or made a mistake and they're venting their frustration.

Rooney believed he deserved brownie points because he'd apologised immediately. In his world, this would've been a big deal. Hard men like him don't apologise. Why should they apologise? The FA should have been grateful that he'd made such a sacrifice. But the FA presumably knew it was just a PR stunt, concocted by the publicity machine at Manchester United or by one of his personal flunkeys, to avert any potential disciplinary issues.

Rooney is a multimillionaire superstar celebrity child. The tantrums, the temper, the victimhood -- it's classic infantile behaviour. And he is surrounded by enablers. When he threatened to walk out on United last October, they smashed their salary structure and doubled his wages to keep him there. He screamed and he screamed and he screamed until he got what he wanted.

He has been sent off four times and has picked up over 80 yellow cards in his career. Apparently they have yet to call in the child psychiatrist at Old Trafford. Au contraire. It's not Wayne's fault, according to Alex Ferguson. When Rooney threw an elbow at James McCarthy's head six weeks ago, in a completely random attack, Ferguson said there was a witch hunt against his star. "Because it is Wayne Rooney the press will raise a campaign to get him hung by Tuesday or electrocuted or something like that. There was nothing in it."

This is Ferguson, according to sundry football hacks, being "protective" of his player. In fact, it's Ferguson being patronising. Every time Rooney throws his toys out of the pram, the manager picks them up and pats him on the head: good boy Wayne! Now finish your dinner and I'll read you a story.

Sir Alex doesn't care if Rooney never grows up. In fact, he prefers him this way. After all, you can't take "the edge" out of his game, he wouldn't be half as good without it. Ferguson will be happy to cover up for Rooney's ugly behaviour as long as he keeps doing the business. And it seems that even his team-mates treat him as a special case. Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and even Nani, for chrissakes, all came out on Thursday to rally around him, like social workers fretting over a particularly volatile youth.

Outside their deluded bubble, however, other interested parties were less indulgent. "I have seen a thousand Rooneys," said Mark Payne, a Wolverhampton police superintendent, "and I am sure most police officers will have. The same aggressive stance, the bulging eyes, the foul-mouthed rant, fists clenched, surrounded by his mates, all cheering him on."

And on Wednesday it emerged that Coca-Cola had discreetly dropped him after his lucrative contract expired last year. It may have had something to do with his alleged relationship with a prostitute while his wife was pregnant, or indeed his drunken toilet call on a public street. The Americans are happy to sell their product to the trailer trash market, but they don't want someone from that particular demographic endorsing it for them.

When players stick their face into a TV camera after scoring a goal, it is usually to beam a smile down the lens, or to give it a kiss. Rooney snarled and swore into it. He earns at least ten million a year, he plays for one of the biggest clubs in the world, he has a wife and a son, and he is still angry. They probably prefer him that way back in Croxteth where he grew up: at least he hasn't changed, Wayne has kept his feet on the ground. And isn't that great?

But it's a tad unfortunate for the game in England that their best player, the face they show to the world, is also the face of the dumb underclass whence he came -- and no one can tell the difference.

the couch@independent.ie

Sunday Indo Sport

Read More

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport