Wayne Rooney needs to tread carefully around Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson.
WAYNE Rooney was a prodigious boxer during his youth so ought to know the perils of allowing his supreme confidence and sense of invincibility to lead him into a fight he simply cannot win.
The motivation for Rooney to challenge Sir Alex Ferguson by contradicting the Manchester United manager’s claims about his fitness is something only the 24-year-old can disclose.
The England forward is in danger of missing the warning signs if he believes his defiance will lead to Ferguson submitting in what is becoming an intriguing and complex battle of wills.
From the moment that lurid allegations of Rooney sleeping with prostitutes emerged in September, Ferguson’s handling of the striker has been accompanied by a suspicion that he had simply dropped him as punishment for allowing United’s name to be tarnished.
Ferguson’s ruthless streak has led to him dropping or even dispensing with star players on numerous occasions.
Rooney is simply receiving the same “tough love” applied to many of his predecessors. The axe has fallen, but Ferguson has protected his player in public by alluding to injury and fears of abuse from the terraces.
He has even spoken of his concerns for Rooney being “exhausted” by the celebrity spotlight, yet Rooney appears to have interpreted Ferguson’s public compassion as condemnation. And by questioning his manager’s version of events, Rooney has given a further example of how his judgment has deserted him in recent months. Rooney can expect to be treated with indifference by his manager, with the rider that he will have 90 minutes against West Brom on Saturday to draw a line under the affair by producing a performance in keeping with his bullish talk. Anything less and Rooney will have given Ferguson ample ammunition to deliver some home truths.
The pair’s relationship is not broken, but Ferguson will expect a re-alignment of Rooney’s perspective of the player/manager dynamic.
The coming month is likely to be crucial in assessing what happens next and whether Rooney’s public defiance has put him at a crossroads in his relationship with Ferguson.
Ferguson will regard the international break as an opportune diversion for Rooney to draw a line under his traumatic start to the season and the future begins against West Brom.
For now, Rooney simply has to land his blows on the pitch rather than off it. – © The Daily Telegraph UK 2010