Where did it all go wRoong?

> For all his ac­co­lades and records, Rooney has made a name for him­self as the player the na­tion loves to hate

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS - BY IAN HER­BERT

I Tis a mea­sure of the dif­fer­ence be­tween Eng­land and other na­tions in the judge­ment of foot­ballers that Gian­luigi Buf­fon com­mit­ted a crim­i­nal er­ror for Italy against Spain in Turin last Thurs­day night and was not evis­cer­ated for it. “Italia s’e’ desta” (‘Italy has awak­ened’) pro­claimed the ban­ner head­line of Fri­day’s Gazzetta dello Sport af­ter the 1-1 draw. This is how it is be­tween the con­ti­nen­tal Euro­pean elite and their great play­ers. If you are an Ital­ian or a Spa­niard, you do not need to tread meekly into your 30s for fear of be­ing de­clared a has-been. Raul was loved long af­ter he stopped be­ing Spain’s best op­tion at the 2006 World Cup, where David Villa was al­ready eclips­ing him. It helps when you are a Real Madrid player in the Spain team: sup­port­ing one prob­a­bly means you sup­port the other. But even Barcelona’s fans feel that Raul’s achieve­ments bought him some re­spect that helped keep him in the side. An­dres Ini­esta still re­ceives a stand­ing ova­tion at every ground in Spain bar Ath­letic Bil­bao be­cause of his World Cup win­ning goal in 2010. What wouldn’t Wayne Rooney give for an ounce of that sen­ti­ment? To de­scribe him – jus­ti­fi­ably – as the out­stand­ing Eng­land player of the past decade or so is to risk a tirade of abuse, as does the as­ser­tion that he re­mains one of English foot­ball’s most vi­sion­ary de­liv­er­ers of the ball in a con­fined space. Few play­ers have, like Rooney, had their own club’s fans pro­claim­ing that any pos­i­tive ob­ser­va­tion about him be­longs to a me­dia con­spir­acy. It was by a 99.08% ma­jor­ity in Septem­ber that Red Is­sue Sanc­tu­ary fo­rum mem­bers wanted him dropped. When you’ve come from where he came from, you won’t be cut much slack in Manch­ester. This was the week when Rooney de­liv­ered the most ex­tra­or­di­nary in­ter­view of his ca­reer – in which he has pro­vided a fair few – as­sert­ing that he is no longer a No. 10 Jose Mour­inho has pro­claimed him to be. Rooney of­fered none of the bor­ing, card­board talk which has be­come the bread and but­ter of foot­baller press con­fer­ences. But yet, as he be­gan the task of con­vinc­ing yet another new Eng­land man­ager of his worth on Satur­day evening, it is hard to avoid the per­cep­tion that much of the na­tion wants him to fall. And he ended up get­ting booed.

“I’m a United sea­son ticket holder & I can’t stand him,” as sup­porter Mathew Ste­wart told on Twit­ter a few days ago.

The hate is, of course, borne of a sense that Rooney is greedy.

He played Manch­ester United for more money in 2010 and then again in 2013 when he held all the cards, and be­fore that there was the kind of de­tail laid out in ‘Rooney’s Gold’, a mem­o­rable book by the in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist John Sweeney.

The cars he owned as a teenager which, Rooney said, were “noth­ing too ex­tra­van­gant”: a brace of BMW X5s, a Mercedes 4x4 and Mercedes SLK. Plus the As­ton Martin Van­quish that Coleen bought him as a sur­prise early 21st birth­day present.

He’s run a Cadil­lac Es­calade, a Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal GT (top speed 195mph) and a Lam­borgh­ini Gal­lardi (top speed 193mph) over the years.

The hate is also borne of the fact that he left Ever­ton, aged 18, for a club deeply dis­liked by many of those who aren’t sup­port­ers – “si­mul­ta­ne­ously the most loved and most hated club,” as the former Liv­er­pool and Premier League chief ex­ec­u­tive Rick Parry de­scribes Manch­ester United in a re­veal­ing in­ter­view for Si­mon Hughes’ new book, ‘ Ring of Fire’.

It was 2004 when he ar­rived at Old Traf­ford and in the en­su­ing 12 years the money has be­come ridicu­lous and the chan­nels for hate have be­come pro­fuse.

In Rooney’s first two years at Old Traf­ford, there was no Twit­ter.

Eng­land’s fail­ure has con­trib­uted to­wards the dis­like, too : a syn­drome which has also seen Steven Ger­rard and Frank Lam­pard re­viled by many.

Though nei­ther of them are quite like Rooney – a player who, in some ways, has been a vic­tim of his own prodi­gious­ness.

Rooney seemed only briefly to be a boy. And be­cause he was a world class player at 16, the slight­est de­cline or im­per­fec­tion was deemed to be an avalanche – scru­ti­nised and raked over end­lessly, in a na­tion which builds up and knocks down its play­ers more than any.

If you per­form as Rooney has per­formed in most coun­tries, you are revered for life.

Not here. Peo­ple looked for fail­ings. His squat, bull-like stature - his “frame” as Sir Alex Fer­gu­son once put it – has al­lowed the de­trac­tors to char­ac­terise him as fat.

The prob­lem he faces now is a pha­lanx of play­ers chas­ing down his old No. 10 po­si­tion. Dele Alli vs Rooney for that po­si­tion?

Alli every time. Adam Lal­lana’s form also makes him a chal­lenger.

In Manch­ester, Paul Pogba op­er­ates best run­ning into that space and, though yet to burst in, Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan is a very fine player in the of­fen­sive mid­field line.

To sur­vive, Rooney has to find a new space to op­er­ate within.

He re­mains the story, the drama, Eng­land’s sec­ond most pro­fi­cient goal-scorer of all time and yet the one the na­tion loves to hate. – The In­de­pen­dent

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