There can be no denying that Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is so far having an ordinary tournament in South Africa – as is the team itself. To do so will be to ignore the reality that has been witnessed with our own eyes. What everyone must be careful of however is that the media frenzy surrounding Rooney does not drive him away from Old Trafford, England and into the welcoming arms of Jose Mourinho in Madrid.
Yes, that could be seen as an over dramatic statement, one which most people will consider highly unlikely but it’s also a possibility that cannot be discounted out of hand. Older heads may overlook the fact that at the age of 24, and as mature as he is for his age, life can appear mighty daunting when the pedestal that you have been placed upon begins to crumble..
Off field matters like the court case which may end up costing Rooney £4 million plus the huge court costs involved, must weigh heavily on his mind especially when the court ominously decided recently that its findings will not be announced until his commitments in the World Cup are over.
Add to that the recent release of an unauthorized biography with which he was far from happy about and you can begin to understand why Fabio Capello has admitted his fears that Rooney may be having psychological problems when he said “He’s completely fit and in training we have to send him back to the dressing room every time. He’s perfect, the problem is in his mind.”
Rooney is not the only player that Capello is having problems with and is yet to face a revolt from his misfiring stars but he shares the fans concerns about Rooney. The nation was left stunned when the striker snarled into a TV camera “Nice to see your home fans boo you. That’s what loyal support is” as he walked off the pitch after the scoreless draw with Algeria.
The highly pressured England manager has vowed to get a grip on out of control Rooney as simmering tensions in the World Cup camp threaten to boil over. The United striker has been branded a “preening prima donna” who expects the side to be built around him and blames everyone else when things go wrong.
One senior England source has suggested that the player’s ego was to blame. “Wayne came into the competition placed on the same podium as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and thought he could eclipse them” he said. “He believes the team should be built around him.”
“That’s what Capello has attempted to do even though it’s meant Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard playing in a system that doesn’t suit them. But he’s done nothing to justify his billing. Instead, he’s been strutting around like a preening prima donna and having a go at the fans he’s letting down so badly.”
Some officials believe that he acted like a spoilt brat over his outburst at booing fans. Capello now plans to hold a crunch showdown with the wayward superstar before England’s must win game with Slovenia telling him “Don’t let your ego wreck our World Cup.”
Rooney later issued an apology about his comments stating “I am as passionate about the England team as anyone. Last night, on reflection, I said things in the heat of the moment that came out of frustration of both our performance and the result. For my part I apologise for any offence caused by my actions at the end of the game.”
That apology is not expected to completely ease resentment in the camp with the source admitting that “Unless Rooney changes his attitude, there is a danger it will continue to fester among his team mates who believe he has been over indulged.”
A good win over Slovenia followed by improved performances – and results, over the latter stages of the tournament may go a long way towards resolving Rooney’s personal demons otherwise, even Sir Alex Ferguson’s powerful influence may not be sufficient to keep his biggest weapon out of Real Madrid’s waiting clutches.
Can media pressure drive Rooney out of Old Trafford?