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Wayne Rooney now on his knees: Scandal threatens England's new dawn

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06 Sep 2010 13:45:49

Wayne Rooney now on his knees: Scandal threatens England's new dawn

Diverted off the road to redemption after just one game, the England football team found itself back in familiar territory yesterday. With concerns, once again, over the welfare of Wayne Rooney. Because of his importance to the team it is always a major issue. At the World Cup in 2006 because of that fractured metatarsal. In South Africa four years later because of the injury he suffered while representing Manchester United against Bayern Munich. And now, just when Fabio Capello thought the recovery process had started in the wake of the last World Cup with that fine display against Bulgaria, thanks to the salacious front-page headlines that have thrown Rooney's life into turmoil. On his knees: Rooney's private life is back under the spotlight just as his international form was improving The sleazy revelations that followed an easy win come at a terrible timefor Capello. Tomorrow night's encounter in Switzerland represents the toughest challenge of this European Championship qualifying campaign andjust when he has Rooney back in the kind of form that eluded him in South Africa, he has fresh doubts over his ability to deliver his best. Not least because Capello considers him to be in a fragile state of mind. Not least because he must now wonder, given that rumours of these stories first emerged during the World Cup, if he was an unfit in mind as he was in body during the tournament.  Back in March, Rooney stressed his desire to be seen as a role model. 'People look up to you,' he said. 'You are role models whether you like it or not and you need to do things well for kids to see. Second half: The players' off-field problems are often compounded by the popularity of their wives - or ex-wives 'When I first joined United I used to go out to nightclubs but it is very rare I would go out to a nightclub now. It changes with age. I madethat decision myself. I got into a few things that I shouldn't have andI tried to change that. 'I am settled at home now. It's good. I am enjoying my life with my family. I spend a lot of time at home with them. When you are home you get your rest and it is definitely benefiting me.' Since then he's been seen out smoking and drinking, urinating in the street, and now finds himself at the centre of yet more damaging revelations. Revelations that suggest another brilliant English footballer has self-destructive tendencies. Capello must feel cursed. Dating back to the scandal that cost John Terry the captaincy in February, this has been an annus horribilis for England's manager. A year when disastrous performances on the pitch havebeen accompanied by a series of PR disasters off it. The kind of issuesthat make it all the more difficult to achieve the success the Italian so craves with this particular set of players. Their private lives should not be something that concerns Capello. But it does if it can then have an impact on performances; even if it affects the Football Association's ability to secure a sponsor for what should be one of the most marketable brands in sport. Businesses don't want to be associated with the kind of headlines that greeted Rooney at the team hotel in Hertfordshire yesterday, as Tiger Woods has already discovered to his cost this year. There is an appetite for attacking England's international footballers at the moment, especially since the World Cup, with Rooney joining Terry, Ashley Cole and Peter Crouch in the sin bin and three more 'England players' currently hiding behind injunctions. What makes it all the more uncomfortable for these particular players isthe popularity their wives and partners enjoy. Amid the sympathy for Coleen, Sheryl and Abby they complete what Capello might term a transformation from gods to monsters. That transformation is hastened, of course, by the conflict between reality and the image the players toooften try to present of themselves. And what happens? You get a situation like yesterday where chaos once again reigns at the England team hotel. On Friday night James Milner andAdam Johnson were selected by the FA to meet with the media yesterday and when they should have been reflecting on a fine performance against Bulgaria at Wembley and looking ahead to Switzerland, the questions weredominated by Rooney. At one stage Milner was asked by a television reporter if the players were happy to have Rooney as a member of their squad. Milner, a bright guy who lives the life of a model professional, navigated his way skilfully through the minefield. But what would Johnson have made of it all during his first press conference as a senior England player? It certainly raised the stress levels among diligent FA staff. Despite the heightened security at the team hotel in Hertfordshire, Rooney did not even travel to training on the team bus. He went to London Colney in a private car to avoid photographers before then joining his colleagues for a training session.Which, when you consider just how influential he was on Friday night, would not have been what Capello considered to be ideal preparation for only the second competitive game since the World Cup. No wonder the Italian thinks England are cursed.  Wayne Rooney will travel to Switzerland for England's Euro qualifier despite claims that he cheated on wife Coleen with a prostituteWayne Rooney will play against Switzerland... I hope: James Milner wants England to focus on footballIan Ridley: Rooney hints at his true potential on the pitchWayne Rooney stunner: Call girl tells of £1,200-a-night hotel trysts


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