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In The Thick Of It

by Aidan Elder | April 4, 2011

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney – footballer, husband, father, multi-millionaire and failed academic

Let’s not expect anything from Wayne Rooney.
The man is an idiot, so let’s not be too shocked when he does something pointless and idiotic. So when he scores a tidy hat-trick and puts in the kind of display that suggests the days of his sledge hammer first touch are nearing an end, let’s not be surprised if he spots a TV camera and moronically decides ‘you know what? Now would be a great opportunity to make a coherent point about the way I’ve been treated in recent months.’ Or ‘me angry shout loud’ which was probably closer to the words that actually ran through is head.

Who was he directing his moderately offensive rant at? The fans? Those dastardly fans whose money continued to flow into his pockets as he lazed around a Dubai pool nursing a phantom injury and who expect players who represent Man Utd to do so with, if not always breath-taking brilliance, then at least a modicum of enthusiasm. Or was it the media that so incensed Rooney over the last few months? It’s horrible the way the highlight the fact that for whatever reason, you’re not putting in the performances that reflect the breath of your enormous natural talent. Or maybe it was more targeted at one individual. Maybe Rooney knew Sir Alex would be watching a TV up in the stands and he wanted to express his frustration at Fergie pressurising him to sign that juicy big new contract earlier this season. Or maybe he just wanted to vent because Coleen took a little too long to shed the baby weight.

I’m not totally sure what Rooney said. I heard some furious mumbling and then a clear ‘fucking’ – the testimony of many a person living next to a randy couple in a thinly walled apartment block. Probably the most amusing part of the piece was the Sky Sports commentator – who after a couple of moments of silence to hear what his producer was saying to him – got back on the microphone the say “apologies if you heard something you shouldn’t have there.” Good, now apologise for all the other intelligence insulting drivel you’ve been spouting for most of this early afternoon.

What Rooney did wasn’t especially offensive and any witch-hunt should be kept to a minimum. If you’re genuinely concerned about Premier League footballers being bad role models and inspiring bad behaviour, then I’d like a more concerted effort made to tackle pointless spitting, shameful diving and harassing referees to the point of assault. Sadly, it took the attention away from an excellent performance from Rooney and after a year or so in the doldrums and on the front pages, was hopefully an indication he is returning to form. With Rooney in form United look far more like deserving champions than the champions by default everyone else’s inconsistency had teed them up as.

Give him his fine, make sure it goes to a worthy cause other than the Premier League Chairmen Champagne and Caviar Fund and sit back and wait for him to do something stupid and futile in the future at which point we can start the whole process again. There is no wider issue here about the behaviour of the modern footballer. This incident is simply Wayne Rooney being Wayne Rooney – a man brought up in a goldfish bowl thought to think what happens on the football pitch is the be all and end all. When it comes to sticking the ball into the net, he’s great. When it comes to being a moral pathfinder for today’s youth, he struggles. There’s nothing wrong with being an idiot, plenty of people are – just acknowledge this fact don’t use them as ethical barometers. In future, let’s save ourselves the moral indignation by expecting nothing else from the Boy Wonder.

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