Sir Alex Ferguson said recently that Wayne Rooney attracts media attention in a similar manner that Paul Gascoigne did in his pomp. Type Gascoigne into Google and you’ll find a sad story with a few green shoots of recovery. For anyone who’s mentioned in the same breath as Gascoigne it could come across as a stark warning.

It doesn’t help that the majority of the incidents Rooney has been involved in have been his own doing. Past incidents could have been down to youthful inexperience, the kind of careless mistakes that any young person can and will probably make early on. It’s when they keep on happening that it causes people to turn their heads whenever his name is mentioned.

…performances on the pitch have varied…

In the past few weeks, his performances on the pitch have varied from the more captivating moments (Fulham away) to the more anonymous ones (Newcastle) and sandwiched in between those games was the Boxing Day indiscretion where he, Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson celebrated Christmas and, judging on various reports, came back a little worse for wear for the next day’s training.

With his absence quite notably felt during Manchester United’s unexpected loss against Blackburn on New Year’s Eve, he didn’t betray any signs of annoyance until recently where he admitted to Italian newspaper La Repubblica that he felt “tense” after the meeting while accepting the reasons behind the disciplinary measures. A younger Rooney may have ranted and raved, kicked up a fuss and let it affect his game more so than just the disappointing performance against Newcastle. Yet he came back for the FA Cup 3rd Round tie against Manchester City, a club who were potential suitors at one time, and led the line scoring two goals and like any player under siege from fans and press, kissed the badge.

…has matured slightly…

So while the indiscretions keep totting up and the press and fans continue to talk about him in the front and back pages, he has matured slightly in terms of his play and his off-field antics. He’s been hailed as a saviour and lionised as a demon for a long time but now it looks like water of a duck’s back. Perhaps the major difference between Rooney and Gascoigne is that Rooney appears more than capable of handling it whereas Gascoigne submitted to his demons a few too many times.

In any case, when it comes to a sportsperson their talent should be the major talking point. When another facet of a person’s personality comes into to play, it takes attention away from their gifts and skills. People who perform in a public capacity will always live their lives scrutinised in every detail but in some cases we often demand too much from them and judge them far too freely.

Image courtesy of Kinney Cheng

 

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