Tuesday 24 April 2018

Sticky times ahead for Rooney

Ian Herbert

Well, that really was the easy bit. The pre-match stadium anthem in Basle on Tuesday night was Status Quo's 'Whatever you Want', which neatly summed up the Swiss defence's generosity towards Wayne Rooney.

Now, in the space of four days, Rooney must encounter both his wife and Everton's fans, both of whom believe they have suffered the greatest act of infidelity imaginable.

And looming into view behind those two obstacles are the massed supporters of Rangers and Liverpool, who are Manchester United's next opponents. Not really what Rooney would choose.

The events of the past five days are certainly enough to allow David Moyes a wry smile.

Moyes was characterised in Rooney's biography 'My Story So Far' as an overbearing and controlling individual -- a depiction for which the striker has since apologised -- and it was only eight months ago that the Everton manager finally explained that he attempted to instill the discipline, including substituting a disgusted Rooney at Bolton a few days after he had flown to Madrid to take part in a Coca-Cola commercial, for a reason.

"All I ever wanted to do was handle Wayne like Alex handled Ryan Giggs," he said.

Moyes' instincts seem to have been right all along. Except that Giggs, whose worst misdemeanour came on the night Ferguson hunted down Lee Sharpe at a house party, but failed to find the winger cowering in a cupboard, has never needed the management Rooney does.

The question now is how Ferguson will deal with this mess. With equanimity, for sure. The marital strife story is one that Ferguson has encountered many times, in many guises, before and there will be no confrontation when Rooney returns to training at Carrington today.

A good allusion -- if not an entirely comparable one -- is the night Ferguson was dragged, bleary-eyed, from his bed 13 years ago, having been informed by telephone call that Roy Keane had assaulted a woman in a Manchester city-centre bar during a drinking session that followed one of United's championship triumphs.

Ferguson masked his horror at United being paraded across the front pages of the tabloids again and said: "Tell me the story, Roy."

Keane unburdened his anguish at the effects of the incident on his wife, Theresa, their then young family, his own family back in Cork and the club.


Ferguson has never revealed the details of their conversation, but suffice it to say that Keane has never drunk publicly since -- or, it is claimed, privately.

The encounter with Rooney will be similar. Ferguson will draw his prime talent into the United fold, a protective place against malign outside forces, as he increasingly likes to characterise it.

If there is a sharp word to be delivered, then it will be about the £200 which was dispensed to a hotel porter, to fetch 20 Marlboro -- the latest evidence that Rooney is smoking. But beyond that, Ferguson has the knack of using adversity to bind player and club together.

That's not to say there will not be disappointment at this alleged act of betrayal.

While Ferguson was always contemptuous of Victoria Beckham and the distraction he felt she posed to her husband, he saw something different in Coleen McLoughlin.

"She's a clever girl who is down to earth. She's good," he said a few years ago and was delighted to hear that Rooney was to marry.

"Marriage helps footballers. It helps them settle down. You know where they are, too. It's good for the stability of a footballer."

That was not to be in this case, despite curious indications that marriage had changed Rooney, including the prominent cross he wore at the World Cup this summer. "It's my religion. I've been wearing them for years now," he said of the cross. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport