There is a bizarre nostalgia that affects people when they discuss Wayne Rooney. The prevalent view seems to be that he had all the talent in the world, demonstrated it with carefree abandon during his teenage years and then got spoiled by necessary on-pitch self-sacrifice and voluntary off-pitch self-sabotage. Now he is seen merely as a good player – not a genuinely great one, and certainly not the one we thought he would be.
This sudden about-turn in public opinion does not really tally up with what has been written and said about him up until now. Throughout his Manchester United career his performances have received glowing write-ups in the press and when he has underperformed – and it has happened repeatedly, sometimes for months on end – his industry and work-rate have seen him bundle in goals and escape the harshest criticism.
Perhaps it is a British journalism thing – “build ‘em up to knock ‘em down” and all that – but the idea that Rooney has not fulfilled his potential is quite ridiculous. As a conclusion, it is simply unfair. Sure, he has never hit the heights expected of him and his contribution to football pales in comparison to those of era-defining freaks Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but the reality is that he was never going to match them.
The problem lies not with Rooney but with us, his viewers. It is not that he never made the most of himself but more that we overestimated his talent to begin with. Continue reading →
There’s an air of disappointment in French politics currently with an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction lingering across the channel.
It’s easy to see how the French have lost their patience with Francois Hollande. The President was voted in on the back of an Obama-esque ticket, promising change and revolution. He wasn’t lying per se; he just hasn’t performed enough miracles to justify the shifts in policy he has brought about.
Some now vilify Hollande. The crowd booed him on Remembrance Day as he was laying the wreath. Sacre bleu! A level of abuse previously unheard of!
Yet I’m sure that many of those involved in French football’s top two tiers may well have shared the heckling crowd’s feelings. Continue reading →
In his first piece for TFN, Valentin Boulan selects a Ligue XI – minus the Big 2 of PSG and Monaco…
Following the recent emergence of PSG and Monaco as big players in European football, the French Ligue 1 has received a lot more attention from abroad, both from players and fans. With the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Radamel Falcao now playing in a league whose best striker until recently was the agonizingly average Moussa Saw, Ligue 1 has experienced a huge qualitative boost.
However, this has not prevented the mass migration of many talented players (Patrick Aubameyang, Eden Hazard, Loic Remy, Mathieu Debuchy and Lisandro Lopez to name a few). As a result, the divide between the “Big 2” and the rest is evident, and with Monaco only just promoted this season, this process is unlikely to reverse in the near future. Continue reading →
Hugo Greenhalgh believes that PSG’s most recent managerial appointment is proof they have some way to go before they can dine out with Europe’s football elite…
The second half of last season was defined to a certain degree by a series of well-publicised open secrets that quickly unravelled to become common knowledge. Jose Mourinho would be leaving Real Madrid and his position would be taken by PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti. Roberto Mancini was to be shown the door at Manchester City and replaced by Manuel Pellegrini. A managerial merry-go-round of sorts was about to be set in motion. Continue reading →
False Nine editor Hugo Greenhalgh considers the career of one of his favourite players, Mathieu Flamini, and what the long-term implications of his departure meant for Arsenal…
How does one measure such an abject fall from grace?
In 2008, Mathieu Flamini was arguably one of the best central midfielders in the Premiership and a key member of an Arsenal side that should have won the title that season. Two years previously, he had demonstrated his versatility by filling in at left-back in a Champions League campaign that took Arsenal to the final. Yet just this summer, Flamini became a free agent and was forced to take a significant wage cut to re-join AC Milan. His is a cautionary tale that the grass isn’t always greener. Continue reading →
False Nine editor Hugo Greenhalgh pays tribute to Montpellier and their supporters…
Great achievements in football often become more incredible once the dust is allowed to settle. There were several feats around Europe last season that will no doubt be looked back on as a great year for the sport. Continue reading →