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The Libero - Rooney finds his feet away from the headlines

Published: 08 Sep 2010 - 09:42:41

Almost inevitably it is Wayne Rooney who again dominates the headlines this morning. The shame is that he features on both the front as well as the back pages.

Just as he broke his goalscoring drought by helping England to a comfortable victory over Switzerland, so too come more splashes about his private life.

Of course, he can only have himself to blame - someone like Rooney who lives his life in the spotlight should know full well what the British press - and fame-hungry, money-grabbing sections of the public who feed it - are all about.

And if he is silly enough to give them ammunition with which to shoot him down, he has to expect the consequences. Especially when he is far from a stranger to these kinds of revelations.

The tabloids are not going to make exceptions for him, just because he is England's best player. As John Terry knows to his cost, if anything, the view is 'the bigger they are the harder they fall'.

But we should not forget who Rooney is. He is in the public eye because he is a footballer, a very good one. But he is also a man. And men, people, make mistakes.

When those mistakes have no nothing to do with his professional life, as is the case with Rooney's dalliances, it is not a mere football blog's place to judge him. Leave that to the front pages. We here are concerned only with the content of the back pages.

So what we can pass judgement on here are his performances on the pitch, and in that respect, it has been a delight to see Rooney shrug off his World Cup malaise and begin to return to a semblance of form, for both club and country.

If his dismal form in South Africa can be explained away by the fear of this furore going public, as has been suggested, then Fabio Capello might just be able to breathe a big sigh of relief.

Having an explanation as to why he went so badly missing in South Africa, unpalatable as it may be, at least gives hope that he may yet propel England to glory in a major tournament, rather than him simply being unable to handle the pressure on the big stage.

Strange then, that now this scandal has come to public attention that Rooney's form has picked up.

Looking noticeably more slimline than usual, he was England's best player against Bulgaria, having a hand in all four goals, before he finally broke his international goal drought with the opener in Basle, a goal he celebrated in markedly muted fashion.

Perhaps the burden of his unsavoury secret was too much to cope with earlier in the summer, the fear of the consequences too much to handle for him. Perhaps the relief of getting it out in the open, regardless of the consequences, has relieved him of the tension that so badly hamstrung him in South Africa. Perhaps he just had a point to prove.

Whatever the reason for his upturn in form, England can take heart. Six points out of six so far and their bid to qualify for Euro 2012 is right on course.

Rooney can take a great deal of credit for that. He could have sought solace from the spotlight, made himself unavailable and shunned his international duties with the scandal at its height. He chose not to, and England reaped the benefits.

It may be a long season ahead for Rooney, but at least he now seems capable of separating his private life from his professional life. If only the scurrilous press could do the same.

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.

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