Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Let Me Explain It To You Then Wayne

Wayne Rooney says sometimes he doesn't get what the UK Press are trying to say when they print stories about him. One is tempted to lay the fault with dear Wayne, pandering to the stereotype of him as not the sharpest tool in the box. but rather than score a cheap barb, I'll try and go on to explain it for you Wayne, speaking from the perspective of an England fan with no parochial club rivalry sharpening any axe, since my club are not in the Premiership and must be one of the few Championship sides not to have a single player at the World Cup.

The latest issue seems to be when the Press were invited into their 15 minute window to observe the England squad training, they spotted Rooney training with the so-called 'stiffs' that is those players unlikely to be in the starting IX for the next match and drew the conclusion that this meant Wayne too wasn't going to start. Rooney countered that he was putting in hard training with the stiffs (whereas the first team starters were doing less robust training to preserve their energies) at his own request.

Okay, first question, why does Rooney feel he needs extra training? Because he's not fit enough (stamina)? or maybe he's not sharp enough or maybe because he finds it harder to keep the weight off than others. If it's either point 1 or 2, then that suggests that Rooney knows he isn't up to scratch and that this can only put his place in doubt. Point 3 is more of a reflection of his whole career. This is the man remember, who one season Sir Alex Ferguson, no bad judge of a player's prowess, sent off on holiday to the sun for some winter training and thereby missing matches, because he was concerned about Rooney's fitness. Rooney has been photographed smoking and is also known to like a drink in his downtime and has come back to pre-season training overweight by his own admission.

Second, let me explain how the Press works Wayne. If as you say you requested extra training rather than having been banished to the stiffs because you will not be starting the next game as one newspaper claimed, then clearly the newspaper's story is not factually correct. But dear Wayne, they don't care. Why don't they care? Because they not only want it to be true, they are campaigning to have it thus. They are reporting in the guise of advocating. How much influence do they have over their readers and how much influence do their readers have over the England manager is not a question I can answer. But they're going to have a go at getting a groundswell of opinion going to influence selection decisions anyway.

Why have they turned on you? Because they feel you no longer justify your place in the team by right. The right afforded you by your reputation. Yeah they built you up when you burst on the football scene as a teenager at Everton and you were hailed as the next great hope. You were constantly talked of as becoming a world class player, up there with Messi and your old mate Cristiano Ronaldo. And you have not delivered, you have not made good on your talent. And whatever the Press are saying, we the supporter feel cheated. We feel you haven't looked after your body or your fitness as above. You haven't trained on. Whatever your achievements in club football and they certainly haven't been consistent season in season out like Messi and Ronaldo, you certainly have not delivered for England. We no longer trust your reputation as meriting a starting berth.

You have won lots of medals and trophies at the best club in England over the last ten years. But while they have been consistent, you have not. Some seasons you have contributed heavily to the success of the club, others you haven't. Apart from being sent away for mid-season training mentioned above, your then manager wondered if he should transfer you and cash in on any residual value your reputation still garnered. And on other occasions you had the temerity to march into his office and demand that he play you in a certain position, just as you are doing now with the England manager, or you have briefed against him as you and your agent machinate for a pay rise as again, with utter chutzpah you demanded the manager surround you with better quality players or you would be seeking employment elsewhere. Ronaldo is a bit like this at Real Madrid, but then he's scored 50 goals a season. I don't believe Messi makes such demands on his club and he's scored hatfuls of hat-tricks that you can only dream of these days.

And here's the rub you see. By raising this query with your treatment at the hands of the Press, you have made our world cup campaign all about you, instead of it being about the team, the country which the manager has clearly been trying to instil in order to get away from the bad practises of previous dire tournaments for England. When you burst on the international scene, you'd had barely a handful of games. Now Raheem Sterling is bursting on the scene, with a completely successful season under his belt, playing for a teaming challenging for the title, but we have learned our lesson from dubbing you world class. We love his progress, but no one is even whispering the term 'world class' in association with him. Same thing Ross Barkley. These players however we welcome into the England fold because we credit they are in the squad on merit. In a way we don't necessarily feel applies to you any longer. As with your club, your call to be played in a certain position implies the team should be built around you. The shape of the play has to be designed around your talents. But we fans feel these new guys are, or should be the guys around whose talents the team shape is designed. We feel they are in better form than you. We feel they are on the up while you are on the downslide and that they have already surpassed you. Sturridge is the best man for the job as the number 9. Sterling is the best man for the number 10. Where does that leave you? The manager decided it meant playing on the left. You have state that 'while happy' to play anywhere on the pitch, it is not really a position you favour. Despite making the goal against Italy, you were poor on the left. we were exposed time and again down your flank, which is not just your fault, but you must bear some culpability. You gave away the ball more than most and you missed a priceless and by anyone's standards a fairly straightforward chance to equalise for the country.

Sorry Wayne, but I hope the Press campaign to bring in someone else in your place is successful. You have disappointed us for too long now. Whole you are not unique in this failure to live up to expectation, you have fallen the most short because you had the furthest target to attain because of the promise your talent seemed to offer.

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