The Rooney Saga

22 Oct

If you follow soccer at all, or simply watch sports center, or even have any concept of what goes on in the sporting world, I assume that you are aware of the drama that centered around Manchester United this past week. Our dear old friend Wayne Rooney has had a tough year, plagued with media scandal. Of course it is all his doing. When you have an affair with a “high class” hooker you will receive absolutely no sympathy from me. Lets get something straight, I loved Rooney. Last season he was a goal scoring machine and seemed incredibly passionate in his game play. This season, well, the affair did not help his case, but his lackluster effort made it worse. Because of his questionable off-field antics, prior to the events this season, I was already looking elsewhere to place my football devotions.
Unfortunately just ignoring him wasn’t possible. He plays for my favorite club and the England national team, therefore, every match I watch basically involves him. If all this wasn’t bad enough, this week happened.
Here is a quick time line of the events:

TUESDAY OCTOBER 12: Rooney, so often the spark, is subdued and out of form against Montenegro at Wembley. Leaving targetman Peter Crouch isolated, he huffs and puffs but never looks like opening up a disciplined defence.

– After the match Rooney says he is fully fit, contrary to the claims of his club manager Alex Ferguson, who had blamed the striker’s poor form on an ankle injury.

SATURDAY OCTOBER 16: Rooney is confined to the bench as Manchester United throw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with West Bromwich Albion.

SUNDAY OCTOBER 17: United issue a statement rejecting as nonsense suggestions that the striker is to be sold in the January transfer window.

TUESDAY OCTOBER 19: Ferguson holds an extraordinary news conference in which he speaks candidly about Rooney’s desire to quit Old Trafford, sending shockwaves around the footballing world.

– Ferguson says Rooney will not play for Manchester United against Bursaspor in the Champions League on Wednesday because of an ankle injury.

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 20: Rooney issues a statement confirming he wants to leave Manchester United, blaming the club’s lack of clout in the transfer market for his desire to quit Old Trafford.

THURSDAY OCTOBER 21: United call for supporters to be patient after a series of meetings over Wayne Rooney’s future at Old Trafford.

– Ferguson meets with chief executive David Gill and Rooney’s representatives.

FRIDAY OCTOBER 22: Rooney agrees a deal that would keep him at the club until at least June 2015.

As you can see Rooney caused a great deal of trouble not only with fans but the whole Manchester United organization. For shame Roon. I cant say I’m happy he signed, I honestly would have preferred him to make for the continent and never return. All he can do now, I suppose, to appease unhappy fans like me is return to form and stay out of trouble. I hate to say it but great athletic performance erases all past infractions. Look at Kobe Bryant. His reputation appeared to be permanently tarnished by his extramarital affairs, but a few rings later and he is back to being the face of the NBA and a heavily sponsored player. Even Tiger Woods which is a much more recent example. The difference being that Tiger slept with upwards of 20 different women, he wins. But other than the consistent cracks and laughable moments in the Tiger scandal it is basically over. Why? Because people don’t want to think about how their sport heroes actually are. As far as many are concerned their play speaks for all aspects of their lives.
I am not saying I am immune to this trend either. If there is one thing that disgusts me most in the world it is a cheating man. I think it is unforgivable. Yet, I seem to have this naive notion that it doesn’t happen as frequently as it actually does, especially among celebrities and athletes. The person they are on film and in magazines or on the playing field is not who they are. There is a real person living behind that disguise and many times they end up being a victim of the lifestyle. If I ruled out every player who had an affair I would have no one left to cheer for. Kobe, Magic, MJ, Beckham, Gerrard etc etc.
So I do condemn Rooney for his off field “affairs” but at the end of the day I am realistic enough to dismiss it and look at him subjectively as a player. However the major issue here is that he’s not much better on the either front.
Basically I don’t condone this behavior from anyone, especially those heavily displayed in the media. They must understand they have the responsibility as public figures to be positive examples. Rooney’s diva behavior distracts from the reason we follow sports. Not for the drama off the field, but the glory on it. Athletes need to smarten up and prove that they have some sort of appreciation for being payed vast sums of money in return for playing a game they supposedly love.

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