Rooney Kicks The Old Man While He’s Down
It’s been one forgettable week for ‘Team Rooney’ and believe it or not, the headlines have been generated without any late night liaisons. On Thursday both Wayne Rooney’s Father and Uncle were arrested on suspicion of placing illegal bets regarding a sending off in a Scottish premier league match which was played in December of last year.
Wayne Rooney Senior and his brother Ritchie were among 9 men arrested after irregular bets were placed on a red card being shown in Motherwell’s loss at home against Hearts. Motherwell midfielder Steve Jennings was also arrested as he was the one who was sent off in the game in which he accrued the red card with the subtlety of a shark attack. After picking up an early yellow for a rash challenge, Jennings proceeded to manhandle the referee whilst mouthing off over a penalty that wasn’t given with 10 minutes left to play. To the surprise of no one, including those monitoring the UK’s gambling activity, a straight red was brandished and the player given an early shower.
There were unusual bets for red placed in various locations across England and Scotland, including quite a few in Liverpool which is where Wayne Senior resides and Jennings was brought up. The bets were in the hundreds of pounds with one new account opened in Liverpool with the first bet placed as £500 on a dismissal in the match at 10-1. No need to call in Lieutenant Colombo on this one, as his one more question would have no doubt been “where’s the nearest Ladbrokes?”
It remains to be seen whether or not Wayne Rooney’s extended family had a further flutter on a red card in England’s Euro Qualifier against Montenegro. But regardless of whether they did or not, the Manchester United striker obliged in unbelievable fashion with a rash kick to the leg of Miodrag Dzudovic which would not have looked out of place in a Manchester street brawl. A poor first touch from Rooney meant the ball had got away from him and when Dzudovic won it fairly and shielded the ball with his body, Rooney lashed out like a petulant child who’d had his Gameboy confiscated. A straight red was never in doubt and German referee Wolfgang Stark was happy to oblige only 17 minutes from time.
Rooney will now sit out the opening match of next summer’s European showpiece through suspension and England boss, Fabio Capello, was clearly displeased with his star man’s temperament, or should I say, lack thereof. As Terry Venables so rightly stated in his post game analysis “you cannot forgive the unforgivable” and in Wayne’s case this could take some time before he once again has the full faith of the manager, despite being in amazing goal scoring form for club and country.
It could have been a safe assumption that with his premature balding under control, the birth of his son Kia and a recently revamped £250K a week contract at Manchester United, Rooney’s bad boy days were just fodder for the first few chapters of his autobiography (Foreword by Sven Göran Eriksson, ghostwritten by Bill Murray). But alas, Wayne’s fuse can seemingly not be lengthened, at least not without some kind of advanced laser therapy.
He is now in illustrious company as he joins David ‘Goldenballs’ Beckham as the only player to have been sent off for England twice, a surprising statistic when you consider that Paul Scholes earned 66 caps for the Three Lions.
But in both these shameful footballing episodes, connected in some strange Magnolia-esque fashion by brand Roo, the biggest losers have been the authority figures that have stood up for their players. In these two cases, a chairman and a manager have gone out on a limb to back their players and been left to deal with something that resembles a horrible fart in a very confined space.
After the initial suggestions of bet fixing in the Scottish Premier League game, Motherwell’s chairman John Boyle came to the defence of Jennings describing him as “totally distraught” and went on to say “if that wasn’t genuine emotion from him, then he is a better actor than Sir Laurence Olivier.” Maybe Jennings was legitimately distraught, after all, you can always wager more. But at least he can sleep safe in the knowledge that he has a fantastic acting career ahead of him after he is given a permanent red card from the game of football.
In the case of Capello, he fielded a number of questions on the day before the game regarding Rooney’s mood and state of mind following his father’s arrest, in which he mistakenly used adjectives such as “calm” and “relaxed” to describe his striker. It is of course possible, that Rooney’s actions on the pitch and his family’s problematic punting off it were purely coincidental. However, as the kick that prompted the sending off appeared to be seeded from frustration with almost no attempt made to make contact with the ball, one can only assume that Rooney’s mental state was affected by the arrests that occurred in the lead up to the game.
For the record, a stunning second half turnaround saw Montenegro salvage a draw with the late, equalising goal a gem. A perfect cross was met at the back stick by the head of Andrija Delibasic who, after burying the ball in the back of the net, smashed his head into the goal post. A brave header indeed and even more impressive was the Montenegran’s ability to resist every footballers urge to go down like a fecal sack following a knock to the head as he instead celebrating by jumping into the crowd who were celebrating in rapturous fashion.
This game will be remembered in England for the remainder of Rooney’s career and will constantly be referred to whenever question marks are raised over his discipline. But if nothing else, the adventures of the Rooney clan over this last week begs the question – where is the lonelier place to ponder regret; a dirty jail cell or an empty locker room?