Wayne Rooney has always been a figure that has attracted attention, both positive and negative.
It appears he can’t cough without the press taking notice, so it is of little surprise that this week the papers have been linking him with yet another move away from Old Trafford.
Following a night out with his partner on Boxing Day, the story goes that Rooney’s performance in training the next day was below par thus he was fined a weeks wages and dropped for United’s loss to Blackburn on New Years Eve.
Such events happen at football clubs up and down the country but when it is United and Wayne Rooney it is a different case.
Last season’s contract events are all too fresh in the minds of those trying to sell papers and get clicks on their websites so this case was highlighted, it was made even worse by the fact that United lost in his absence.
Rooney returned for the Newcastle game but was subbed off as United crashed to a second consecutive defeat. The press made sure to highlight the ‘frosty’ exchange between him and Sir Alex as he made his way to the bench:
Rumours of his departure again began to circulate and despite a joint statement from Rooney and the club and Rooney using his personal Twitter account to dispel these stories, a number of papers decided to run stories of a £60m move to Man City.
Yesterday Rooney was back in the team again and his two goals helped United to a win against rivals City in the FA Cup. He made a point of kissing his badge to let the world know where his allegiances lie, and whilst we have seen this before, he then used the post match interview to clear up any misconceptions saying,
“There is no problem for me at this club, I want to be at this club for a long time.”
Wayne’s words were echoed by Sir Alex Ferguson as he spoke post game too but he added a little more sending a clear message not only to the press but to the player:
“There’s absolutely no problem with Wayne what Wayne has got to realise is the press have got another (Paul) Gascoigne and he’s got to suffer with that.”
Sir Alex understands that anything Rooney does will generate headlines and perhaps to remedy it, Rooney now understand this. Papers have been earning off of him since he made his break through at Everton and by now he should know that any little gesture will be analysed and analysed again.
Case in point his hair transplant, something that generated way more attention than it should have be it serious or jovial.
Sir Alex’s decision to use Gascoigne as his example was no mistake either, he has been here before with David Beckham but the use of Gascoigne is extremely poignant. Gascoigne had a similar attractiveness to the press and eventually the constant attention was part of his downfall.
This isn’t to say Rooney is going down the same path Gascoigne did, but Rooney has a habit of letting what is in the press affect him and putting it out there should definitely keep it in the strikers mind. His wording was also important, you can’t help read it and think that Sir Alex is looking at Rooney’s best interests. It creates an us vs them mentality between Sir Alex, Rooney and United and the press. This was further highlighted when he said:
“Wayne Rooney is a headline-maker, good or bad. It is the situation that existed many years ago with Paul Gascoigne.
“We have seen the good stuff today but any flaws will be absolutely annihilated by the press. That is what they are like. That is what we are dealing with.”
Words like ‘we’ and ‘they’ clearly display this.
Despite today’s actions and utterances, it is likely that we will be in this same position again. Hopefully Sir Alex calling their bluff will make papers less inclined to try and use these rumours to sell a few copies and that Rooney takes note of Sir Alex’s words so that the papers will have a tougher time drumming up these unfounded stories.