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Patrick Collins: From the fall of Wayne Rooney...to the rise of Graeme McDowell

25 Dec 2010 19:24:02

Patrick Collins: From the fall of Wayne Rooney...to the rise of Graeme McDowell

It was the year of World Cup ignominyfor England - and Ryder Cup glory for Europe. The year when cricket was dragged into the mire of corruption allegations - and when one of the stars of tennis confirmed both his genius and his humility. It was the year when some in footballbecame even richer, while others lost their jobs through no real fault of their own Different World: Wayne Rooney after England's World Cup exit Wayne Rooney never even paused. As the boos and the jeers rolled down the slopes of the Green Point Stadium, he lowered his head and moved purposefully towards the dressingroom. Then, briefly, his indignation bubbled over, and he tossed a sneer at an attendant camera. 'Nice to seeyour own fans booing you,' he said. 'That's what loyal support is.' We have heard some remarkable revelations this past year; some scandalous, some sleazy, some chilling and some genuinely poignant. But that remark was possibly the most revealing of all. A few moments earlier, England had concluded a goalless draw with Algeria in the group stage of the World Cup in South Africa. It was a spectacularly turgid English performance, dull of wit and devoid of imagination. Fans can be scathing, sometimes unfairly. But these people had invested vast amounts of energy and moneyin following their team to the finals. They were absolutely entitled toexpress their disapproval of a slovenly display. Rooney did not agree. He saw it as anoffensive impertinence. No matter that they had travelled 6,000 miles to watch this dross. No matter that the Algerians - who had been dismissively patronised - had passed England to pieces with their lightness of touch and awareness of space.   More from Patrick Collins... Patrick Collins: Hughton still a Toon hero, not Batman and Robin upstairs11/12/10 Patrick Collins: No wonder Ricky Ponting's feeling all shook up11/12/10 Patrick Collins: England's World Cup fiasco and those who were 'buyable'04/12/10 Patrick Collins: Captaining Australia used to be the easiest job in sport...04/12/10 Patrick Collins: Tale of two centuries recovers serenity and self-respect28/11/10 Patrick Collins: A battle for the Ashes? It's more like a reality TV show27/11/10 Patrick Collins: One pathetic tweet exposes England's need for a national football centre20/11/10 Patrick Collins: Mr Angry Joey Barton send his regrets... but just who does he think he's fooling?13/11/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE The fans had a duty to applaud and approve. He was not asking much; just an abject suspension of critical faculties and simple intelligence. As he said: 'That's what loyal support is.' Now, Rooney had performed like a parody of an international footballer, but he was not alone in his fumbling inadequacy. Frank Lampard had been comically irrelevant, StevenGerrard woefully inaccurate, and as for Shaun Wright-Phillips, well, he'd played like Shaun Wright-Phillips. A few months earlier, his father, the preposterous Ian Wright, had accused Manchester City of 'mugging off' his son for failing to increase his weekly wage of £60,000. City may not be everyone's club of choice, but an offer of £3million per year scarcely qualifies them as hard-faced mill owners. No matter. Shaun and his friends are the footballers of England and, as such, they are allowed to nominate their own salaries. It is their entitlement. Nobody must criticise their play or modify their pay. Because they're worth it. Even before they travelled to South Africa, the non-football public had started to regard them with quizzical distaste. Scandal had piled upon scandal. The antics of John Terry, which obliged Fabio Capello to strip him of the captaincy, had seemed to set the tone for a team which represented all too vividly the prevailing mores of the English game. Had they been successful then much would have been forgiven, since success means never having to say you're sorry. But they weren't. Instead, they were embarrassingly inept, as Germany would shortly demonstrate. Capello was bewildered. He was asked if his finest player would be dropped, and he didn't brush the question aside. 'It's not a problem of his fitness, but of his mind,' he said. And he added: 'At the moment, Rooney isn't Rooney.' The fact is that he hasn't really been Rooney since that miserable evening. His decline as a player is painfully obvious. But there were the seedy revelations of his less than private life. Strangely, the small details are the most damaging: the fact that he thought £200 a reasonable price to pay for 20 cigarettes in five-star Manchester hotels made ordinary people shudder. Would he have forked out £400 for 40 cigs? Had he really come so far from Croxteth? Later, there was the crude attempt by the player and his unspeakable agent to hold Manchester United to ransom over a new contract. Fearful of losing him for next to nothing, United negotiated the terms, demanded and secured an apology to colleagues and staff whom Rooney had traduced. Jokers in the pack: Rio Ferdinand with Shaun Wright Phillips, Ashley Cole and John Terry at England's World Cup training camp It was victory of a kind for Sir Alex Ferguson and certainly it prevented a possible move to Manchester City. But victory came at a daunting cost. After his failure in South Africa, and his continuing inability to reach the heights he once enjoyed, Rooney was now collecting some £200,000 per week, or £10m per year. That kind of money allows players to write their own rules. From here on, the likes of Rooney, Terry, Ashley Cole and others need listen only to sycophants and courtiers who tell them what they want to hear. Disapproval is disregarded. Anything less than 'loyal support' is treated as treachery. But such attitudes are increasingly untenable. The fans continue to follow, to encourage, to hope for better days. They want to believe in silver linings. But evidence is too strong, the faults too obvious and the flaws too brazen. I suspect that they no longer love the team they are condemned to follow. And they haven't truly loved them since an arrogant young man threw their loyalty back in their faces, on a cool June evening in Cape Town. A day unlike any other this year If you could choose just one day from the sporting year, it would surely be the first Monday in October, when days of rain relented and the Usk valley showed itself in its brightest colours, and the Ryder Cup was won by Europe. Hunter Mahan's concession to Graeme McDowell on the 17th hole gave Europe the trophy by half a point and ignited the most spectacular celebrations that European golf has ever known. McDowell had won the US Open a few months earlier, yet he confessed that the feat was 'like playing the back nine at Portrush with my Dad', when compared to the tension of this extraordinary event. Lee Westwood was at the heart of the celebrations. Greatest year: Graeme McDowell celebrates his winning Ryder Cup putt Before the end of the year, he would be installed as the No 1 golfer in the world. It is an enormous achievement, and he is rightly proud. But for him, it didn't exceed the joy of the Ryder Cup victory. For that was a day unlike any other we saw this year. A Monday to remember. The great and humble Nadal They say you never appreciate the great ones until they move on. And by and large they're right, since time lends enchantment to the best. But a random trawl through the names yields evidence that we may be living through something like a golden age. Sachin Tendulkar, Lionel Messi,Usain Bolt and Dan Carter would have been gigantic figures in any era, as as would the incomparable AP McCoy, whose first Grand National success was set warmly alongside more than 3,300 winners already delivered. Yet of all sports, tennis is especially blessed. Roger Federer has spent the past dozen years compiling a career beyond compare. His 16 Grand Slam titles reflect his sustained excellence, and the manner in which he has dealt with unprecedented success will serve as the yardstick by which class and style are measured. In the pantheon: Rafael Nadal wins Wimbledon Then there is Rafael Nadal; the same class, the same style, the same beguiling habit of wearing his genius lightly. He enjoyed a remarkable 2010, winning the French and US Opens as well as the Wimbledon title. And he greeted them all with the humility which marked his acceptance of a BBC Sport award the other evening. At 24, the possibilities are endless, yet his place in the pantheon is already secure. We are fortunate to live in his sporting generation. Mohammad Amir, a suitable case for mercy Before the new year is two weeks old, Mohammad Amir will know his fate. The International Cricket Council will listen to the evidence of investigations into the corrupt practice of 'spot-fixing'. If they find him guilty, then they have the power to terminate the most promising career in the entire world of cricket. The charges against Amir arose from England's Test match against Pakistan at Lord's in August when undercover investigators alleged that the 18-year-old prodigy had deliberately bowled no-balls at the instigation of fixers. Some insist that, if he is guilty, then an example must be made of the youngster. No matter that he was the youngest player in history to take 50 Test wickets or that a year ago this very week, he was knocking over five top Australians in the second innings of the Melbourne Test. In the spotlight: Mohammad Amir will find out his fate next week If he is guilty, then he must pay the price. And yet, we might remember that Amir was raised in grinding poverty. That he was allegedly tempted by cynical and dangerous men. And that his sport is in acute need of his gifts. If guilty, he must be censured. But I hope that cricket will show him mercy. And turn its fire on the despicable creatures who sought to pervert that glittering talent. Survival doesn't have to be ugly For a football club of slender resources, there is just one way to survive in the Premier League: you have to kick, scrap, get in their faces, cheat at set-pieces and launch the ball long and high. Everyone knows that. So why did nobody mention it to the newly promoted managers? To Chris Hughton, doing an elegant job at Newcastle before being sacked by fools. Manager of the year?: Blackpool boss Ian Holloway To Roberto Di Matteo, equally impressive at West Brom. And, above all, to Ian Holloway, whose management of Blackpool has been one of the most endearing features of the current season. To Hughton, we wish a speedy new job. To Di Matteo, comfortable survival. And to Holloway, the accolade of manager of the year. The things they said in 2010 'At least 13 are buyable' - ANDY ANSON, chief executive of the England World Cup bid, gives his private assessment of FIFA's World Cup electors 'I'm not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Inter Milan or Real Madrid. It wouldn't be a problem to me to go and manage those clubs because I would win the Double or the league every time. Give me Manchester United or Chelsea and I would do the same, it wouldn't be a problem' -SAM ALLARDYCE 'They just see the hair, the teeth, the tan, the big house the car, the Dolce and Gabbana clothes, the model wife and houses all over the world' - ROBBIE SAVAGE reflects that people can be very superficial 'I'd go back to the days before we had the Premier League, when it was the best team wins. Now it's the Premier League, it's just about money' - DELIA SMITH celebrity cook and Norwich City owner 'Football fans don't care. Saddam Hussein could own their football club and, if he's putting millions into it, the they'll be quite happy. They'll all be singing: "There's only one Saddam." I've seen it all before' - HARRY REDKNAPP on Manchester City's spending 'It's interesting how times have changed, how you can get to No 1 without winning a major?' - NICK FALDO, typically magnanimous, congratulates Lee Westwood 'He's a great kid, a little bit like myself' - JOEY BARTON pays a misplaced compliment to Andy Carroll 'Supporting Bolton is is a bit like having a three-legged dog. You wish it had all four, but you still love it' - RAY HEATON, Mail on Sunday reader and Bolton fan  Kenny Dalglish: What a year for those Spanish magicians and a Welsh wizardReview of the sporting year - June: Month-by-month guide to the stories that had us gripped in 2010MANCHESTER UNITED FC


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