Yup, the USA are planning on viciously and repeatedly kicking our collective crown jewels; actually they have just quite reasonably highlighted Rooney as a potential loose cannon, a short-fuse and someone who could bubble over, thus enhancing the oppositions chances of success – not in a direct, targeted manner but simply through smothering him out of the game.
So, booked again for dissent during England’s warm-up game only this week, is Rooney some sort of feral caveman, with no-self control, no grasp on his temper, emotions or bladder, i.e. is he a liability? Or is he, in fact, a misunderstood poet, a beacon of true beauty and international ambassador for world peace? Well, neither. He’s an exceptional player with an aggressive style which often benefits and forms an imperative crux to the way he plays, but this can also be a problem.
Gordon Banks has warned that a hefty price could be paid if control isn’t kept over Rooney’s discipline and tongue; particularly regarding dissent and the ‘ridiculous’ scenario of getting yourself sent off during a vital World Cup match due to ‘silly’ swearing. Certainly, Jeff Selogilwe – the referee presiding over Monday’s warm-up fixture – indicated that had it not been a friendly game he would have sent him off for the apparent vulgarity of language. (Selogilwe was also quoted as saying ‘I was very disappointed in Rooney because he is my favourite player. He insulted me.’ Which made me feel really bad for some reason).
Will referees be so forgiving during the World Cup? Well, Rooney often appears mouthy during matches without incurring too much punishment, and it’s hard to pass judgment on such accusations unless on the pitch alongside him.
However, his approach has clearly caused issues in a more tangible manner in the past: the dismissal against Portugal being the most vivid example. Though not helped be a right little winker, Rooney was clearly wound-up and lashed out during a tense and important occasion. As Portugal seemed to do, it is likely that teams will attempt to exploit this again this summer. Although cynical, it could be a useful strategy.
However, you hope that Rooney can keep his head and channel his energies into hurting the opposition in the most productive manner; as he so devastatingly can. He does seem to have improved discipline-wise (also obtaining less league bookings than the previous two years) and although you sometimes worry when seeing him hurtling towards a tackle, with that manic look in his eyes, it is also a thrilling sight and a vital part of his character.
He must keep this competitive, aggressive streak since it forms part of the dynamic force which has been employed so productively this season. But, when stuck on the outskirts of a (usually England) game, it is not so constructive as he becomes visibly more frustrated. Ensuring he receives good service is a useful basis, since frustrations often seem to spawn from feelings of inadequate support, but this is not always feasible and so, like any adult, composure must be maintained. Rooney’s discipline and composure is an issue Capello must keep on top of; if England are to succeed you feel this will be imperative.
Personally I wouldn’t like to see him loose his combative approach, like some castrated animal loosing their vim and vigour, but what do you think: boorish liability or unduly targeted luminary? Is there anything to worry about?
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