21st July 2010 #1
Despite Alex Fergusonís Protestations, Inexperience Is No Excuse for Wayne Rooney
by Brian Glanville Filed under: Manchester City, Manchester United, Netherlands, Spain, World Cup 2010
Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken so I suppose we had better listen, even if his latest effusions seem somewhat questionable. In the first place, he assures us that Wayne Rooney, who after such high and huge expectations had such a wretched World Cup tournament, “will have other opportunities and he will be much better with experience”. But how much experience will he need having failed in two World Cups and having been sent off for a shocking foul in the 2006 version? “Don’t forget,” Fergie admonished us, “that he doesn’t have great experience of World Cup football.”
Why? Surely this is the kind of thing which gives special pleading a bad name. When it came to South Africa, Rooney had one whole World Cup behind him though to be fair he was certainly not fully fit for it. He had also played and again to be fair, excelled, in the European Championships of 2004 when, had he not been kicked early on and forced off the field; England would surely have been in strong contention for the title.
Ferguson declared that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, of Portugal, also failed. Well, Ronaldo certainly did, and it was his second World Cup too. Indeed in the first of them you may remember that he exulted in Rooney’s expulsion. But Messi certainly had his moments in South Africa even if Argentina, who have inexplicably reappointed the wayward Diego Maradona as manager, were eventually blown out of sight by Germany.
Ferguson blamed the toil of an excessive number of English games for Rooney’s failure, but plenty of those players who succeeded in South Africa had played just as many. Meanwhile, Rooney is yet another text in the theory that nothing succeeds like failure. Back in England, he promptly, and deservedly, won his court case against agents who claimed he owed them £4 million, then received a £130,000 a week contract, an increase of £30,000 weekly, from Manchester United. Who needs the World Cup?
Howard Webb, referee of that horrid affair of a World Cup final between the ruthless Dutch and the Spaniards, had no option but to keep Nigel de Jong on the field after that appalling early foul on poor Xabi Alonso. “I think it got to the stage in the first half that showing a red card would have put him under pressure, criticism wise. A World Cup final, having a player sent off, it’s not a done thing and you don’t want to see that. There was no way out for him.”
Surely there didn’t need to be. Not expelling De Jong, and later failing to expel the bruising Mark van Bommel for a couple of dreadful fouls, just as Van Bommel had got away with it in the game against Uruguay, allowed the Dutch to continue their policy of shameful intimidation.
Laws are laws and referees are surely on the field to apply them. Had Webb indeed sent off De Jong, Holland would certainly have been seriously up against it with ten men, but would that have spoiled a game which the Dutch spoiled throughout?
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