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Wayne Rooney seems a man motivated only by vengeance and spite: Martin Samuel

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05 Apr 2011 00:56:37

Wayne Rooney seems a man motivated only by vengeance and spite: Martin Samuel

It was not the swearing that appalled. It was the total absence of joy, of fun, of love for the game or its fantastic rewards that was so offensive about Wayne Rooney's goal celebration on Saturday. There was no sense of pleasure, no evidence of the thrill all footballers say they get when the ball strikes its target. Instead, Rooney was angry. He always seems to be angry. Everybody seems to be angry these days. Football is locked in a cycle of violence, emotional if not physical, in which the majority of those in the stadium appear hugely dissatisfied at being there, as if they have been forced on to the pitch or into their seat at gunpoint. Respect? Rooney's foulmouthed rant came just days after the new campaign was launched If they hate it so much, why go? Rooney included. Seriously, son, if scoring three goals produces such bile and rage, jack it in. It can't be healthy and you don't need the money any more. Find something in your life that you enjoy doing and let another kid have the No 10 shirt at Manchester United. He won't be as good as you, obviously, but at least he might actually smile when he scores.   More from Martin Samuel... Martin Samuel: It's hard to avoid whiff of hypocrisy in Rooney's FA charge 04/04/11 Martin Samuel: Harry's done miracles ... so why don't Spurs love him?04/04/11 MARTIN SAMUEL: A sad state of the arts? Get a proper job!31/03/11 Martin Samuel: England's stand-in Lions fill boss Capello with pride 29/03/11 Martin Samuel: You're alright Jack, but Little Pea will end up Mushy Pea 29/03/11 Martin Samuel: Time to grow up and hear this... Capello is on to a winner 27/03/11 Martin Samuel: England must take on clubs so young Lions are in it to win it27/03/11 Martin Samuel: Capello is best man to lead England despite captaincy furore25/03/11 VIEW FULL ARCHIVEAt Upton Park, Rooney achieved the pointof the game. Three times. Scoring is what he, and his team-mates, work all week to achieve. As a forward, everything Rooney does in practice, even when he is slaving in the gym, is dedicated to a Manchester United player putting the ball in the net. So when that happens and when thatplayer is Rooney himself what is there to be so upset about? Rooney later apologised for swearing directly into a nearby camera lens after his third goal against West Ham United and released a statement saying that emotions were running high. This is true. It is fanciful to believe that in the hyped-up world of modern sport, athletes in the heat of competition will not be operating on the outer limits of emotional stability. There were 34,546 people at Upton Park, many of whom booed every time Rooney got the ball this is unexceptional behaviour, good players get that wherever they go and some who were ready to worship him like a demi-god if he could win the game. All week he had been building up to those 90 minutes and his team came back magnificently from two goals down at half-time. It is delusional to think there will not be an extreme response to victory. What puzzles is why it has to be so overwhelmingly aggressive. Face it, there has not exactly been a smorgasbord of delights to choose from in Rooney's season. A hat-trick to turn the game and keep United on course for the title would be roughly as good as it gets. The second goal, a beauty, was his 100th in the Premier League for his club, a significant personal milestone, and the entire experience clearly meant a lot to him as he returned to the field on the final whistle, having been substituted, to claim the match ball as a memento. Yet, all of these positives were made inescapably negative by Rooney's crudely belligerent reaction after scoring a penalty. His inexplicable, obscene fury directed straight into the camera lens looked at once spoiled, petulant and ungrateful. His stare of insolent entitlement is what many now perceive to be the face of the Premier League. And, in that moment, Rooney ruined it. He ruined what should have been one of the high points of the season. He ruined the spectacle, the sheer delight in seeing a great player at the top of his game. Those at home who were revelling in Rooney's second-half performance were suddenly confronted with his swearing, snarling fizzog as if they had done wrong. Cheer up! Rooney cut an angry figure at Upton Park on Saturday Somebody needs to remind Rooney that people don't need this on a Saturday morning. They've worked hard all week, too, and now they have sat down to watch you and your mates play football. You are all in the entertainment business, believe it or not. These people do not deserve to be told to f*** off. They have done no harm to you at all. All they do is put that money in your pocket, because take the television subscriptions away and wages would be halved, at least. So be nice. It is not much to ask. Just be nice. Rooney's statement did not specifically reveal what ignited his rage, although there is a theory denied by Sky that the cameraman asked him to kiss the lens in celebration, as Mark Noble did when he scored his first penalty for West Ham. If so, Rooney had every right to be dismissive. He is under enough pressure, without remembering to gambol in an approved manner for the producer's highlights package. He scored three goals in one of the most exciting matches of the season; what more do they want? Stark contrast: Messi always plays with a smile on his face Yet, say that was Rooney's motivation and it would certainly explain why Sky failed to question him or Sir Alex Ferguson on the controversy he did not have to explode with rage. He could just as easily have said no, or simply ignored the request, yet he seemed to be bubbling over almost from the time the ball hit the net. If an exchange with a cameraman provoked him, it was a contributory factor not his sole motivation. And it is this all-consuming anger that is so unappealing. Why would he feel spiteful at that moment? Why would any player, considering that Rooney is far from alone in marking his goals with raw irritation? It does not have to be this way. Javier Hernandez scored Manchester United's fourth and although, comparatively, the pressure was off by then, it was an important contribution, putting the match beyond West Ham's reach. 'Hasn't he got nice teeth?' said my wife (she notices stuff like that, we could be watching a suicide bomber's martyrdom video on Newsnight, and she'll be distracted by the gleaming dentistry of the fanatic commanding the camera). All smiles: Javier Hernandez celebrates scoring his goal against West Ham But she was right; Chicarito does have a smashing set of gnashers. And we know this because we saw them for about 30 seconds after the ball went into the net. He had the soppy, big grin of a kid on his birthday; which is exactly how scoring a goal is meant to feel. Hernandez appeared to take more pleasure in the redundant fourth in a 4-2 win than Rooney took in his vital three put together. Barcelona display joy, too. Lionel Messi never looks like he is taking some unspoken ire out on the world when he scores, nor do his team-mates. They do, however, show a very obvious pride in how good he is, and how good they are. Maybe that is why Spain have shone at major tournaments recently, while Rooney has sulked, sunk and stunk. Even a peacock like Cristiano Ronaldo is more given to smiles than glowers when he scores. And whatever the criticism of Chris Ashton, his swallow dive try celebration that caused such outcry during England's Six Nations campaign was at least an exuberant expression of what it feels like to be a professional sportsman at his peak. It is still quite remarkable that if a footballer takes his shirt off and whirls it around in delirium after scoring, he incurs a booking, but the snarlers, the scowlers, the lip-curled curmudgeons are indulged. A colleague of mine sat next to Sir Alex Ferguson at a dinner when he was talking with passion of his disapproval for Thierry Henry, then with Arsenal. It was not the player that got his goat he loved the player but the way he celebrated his goals. Ferguson even mimicked the arrogant Henry strut and glare, pushing his chest out, staring down the crowd. One might argue that Eric Cantona did the same and Ferguson did not seem particularly vexed then, but forgive him this blind spot and concede he is right. Henry, like Cantona, was a beautiful footballer who, like many contemporaries, often appeared to confuse nailing a tap-in from six yards with being crowned supreme ruler of the Roman Empire. Any poor behaviour that is not stopped is encouraged. The Premier League is marketed around the world in countries where the public are not so desensitised to swearing. Yet, no matter. Lessons in good manners have gone by the wayside as managers prioritise victory above all, so celebrations have evolved from preening arrogance to contemptuous disdain, and now expletive-strewn fury. At which point, it is expected the Football Association will act, laying a charge and a suspension against Rooney as swearing into a camera so forcibly that Sky issued a swift apology most certainly counts as bringing the game into disrepute. Don't hold your breath, though. Gloating: Henry often celebrated his goals with a touch of arrogance The FA is compromised here on two counts: one general, one specific. Its main problem as moral guardian of the game is that it is also driven by a desire for financial gain. The minute it trod the path of lucrative sponsorships, naming rights, commercial partners and shirt sales, its strength as a disciplinary body all but disappeared. Rooney is not just a Manchester United player, he also represents the business interests of the FA as a very public face for kit launches or with personal appearances to please and promote its sponsors. The FA needs Rooney, which makes it very difficult to weigh him off. In the past, this had led to an unhelpful attitude when the commercial department requested his services. In 2006, when the FA upheld Rooney's three-match ban for being sent off in a pre-season friendly, Paul Stretford, his agent, wrote to FA chief executive Brian Barwick expressing his dismay and threatening to withdraw him from all commercial activities related to the England team. 'I am writing on behalf of my client to express his utter dismay at the decision not to overturn the ban,' Stretford's letter began. 'Rooney feels extremely let down by the FA on this matter. While he will continue if selected to play for his country with pride and commitment, he is considering withdrawing his support for the FA's commercial programme: in other words, he will not allow his image to be used or exploited, or participate in personal appearances for and on behalf of the FA's commercial partners unless he is satisfied with how the FA conducts its affairs in regard to player matters.' In other words: do me, sunshine, and I'll do you, and we'll see who comes off worse. Previous form: Rooney unleashes a tirade at Green Point stadium after England's dismal goalless draw with Algeria The FA's other complication relates to an instance of similar behaviour on international duty. Following England's disappointing draw with Algeria in Cape Town during the World Cup in last year, Rooney assailed a pitch-side camera to complain about fans booing the team. He also uttered a swear word as he marched towards the dressing room. Desperate for a win against Slovenia to stay in the tournament, England's management and the FA took no action. So, if Rooney is charged and banned now, United would have every right to ask why swearing in the white shirt of his club incurs a suspension, but swearing in the white shirt of England is permitted. Happier times: Rooney needs to rediscover what makes him happy This is why even as the FA announced that they would be reviewing the incident at Upton Park, it was equally suggested that Rooney would receive no more than a warning. If the FA wanted to play policeman it had the chance on its watch in June. Having acted pragmatically instead, its options are limited. The biggest concern is that even on arguably his finest day this season, Rooney still looked a troubled individual. His vocation should make him happy, the way it makes Hernandez happy, or Messi or Ronaldo. He is supremely talented and successful, yet appears to be motivated only by vengeance and spite. Something is wrong. If he seeks it, however, help is nearer than he thinks. Were Rooney interested in rediscovering how wonderful it feels to be good at football, he could do worse than study the body language of his manager when a goal is scored. In defeat, nobody has ever confused Sir Alex Ferguson with a ray of sunshine and he is currently serving a five-game ban for criticising referee Martin Atkinson after a series of poor decisions in a match against Chelsea, but forget that for a moment and picture Ferguson when a goal is scored: the silly grandad jig, bursting out of his seat, arms pumping, legs kicking, completely lost in the euphoria of the moment. He could no more frown or be angry than he could later shrug his shoulders and smile philosophically when a decision goes against him. Yet, in that instant he reminds us all why, at 69, he keeps going: because football is fun, because it keeps a man young, because it can provide moments of pure release, like a winning goal, like a hat-trick, and very occasionally, both.  Rooney needs to pick up on this and fast, because if what happened at Upton Park does not make him happy, whatever will? AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT...Speaking at the Soccerex convention in Manchester last week, Peter Ridsdale said Leeds United would be in the Premier League had he remained in charge. And he's right, of course: the Northern Premier League. Next match: Ossett Town.  Miroslav Klose, the Germany striker, is homing in on Gerd Muller's scoring record. Klose has 61 goals, Muller 68. The difference? Klose's have been scored over 108 internationals, Muller's in 62. No comparison really.  The Government says it will not be getting involving in the financial row between the British Olympic Association and the organisers of the London 2012 Games, and neither will I. Don't understand it, don't care about it, grow up the lot of you.  FA must take the hard line with Rooney and ban him for three games. But they won't.Patrick Collins: Rooney's foulmouthed tirade makes mockery of new campaign  Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Paul Stretford, Brian Barwick, Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Martin Atkinson Places: Barcelona, Manchester, London, Cape Town, Slovenia, Germany, Spain, Algeria, United Kingdom Organisations: Football Association, British Olympic Association


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