TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh thinks Wayne Rooney should be revered rather than ridiculed…
There was something reassuring about Manchester United’s comfortable 3-0 victory over Tottenham last Sunday. The ease at which United blitzed past Spurs was reminiscent of a Sir Alex Ferguson performance; the kind of game Fergie used to prepare for by telling the dressing room, “Lads, it’s Tottenham”, as Roy Keane revealed in his autobiography.
What will have been particularly pleasing for United fans was the display of Wayne Rooney. The England captain put in one of his best performances of the season, capping it off with a goal at the end of the first half. Picking up Nabil Bentaleb’s stray pass, Rooney danced past the remaining Spurs defenders and stuck it past Hugo Lloris with a nonchalance that recalled a player in his pomp.
The celebration that followed was a wonderful touch of self-awareness. There were shades of Robbie Fowler and Paul Gascoigne as Rooney showed the ability to laugh at himself – as well as the morning papers. It also served as a massive release for a player who has endured a significant amount of criticism over his career. Continue reading →
Joe Devine’s 5 things in the Premier League this weekend include Gus Poyet’s lucrative new contract and an uncharacteristic slip of the tongue from Nice Guy Nigel Pearson…
Gus Poyet Handed Long Term Contract
After a fabulous season at the helm of big Premier League giants Sunderland, boss-man and all round good guy Gus Poyet has been awarded a new long term contract, with a greatly improved salary. The contract was announced whilst Poyet was live on BBC television, and the delighted Uruguayan basked in the glory of success. Apparently the contract is for 18 years, and included was a hand-written card, signed by all the board members, thanking Poyet personally for his amazing job this year.
Van Gaal Goes Mad for Rats
Manchester United manager, Louis Van Gaal, spent the week telling anyone who would listen that they were in “a rat race”. The Dutchman apparently discovered the 2001 Jerry Zucker film “Rat Race” in which Cuba Gooding Jr, Whoopi Goldberg and Rowan Atkinson rush through a troublesome and boring race for the money (the film was about racing too). Upon seeing the film, Van Gaal quickly adopted the “you’re in a rat race” catchphrase, and has since been unable to stop saying it. Luckily, Wayne Rooney delivered a powerful, emotive speech to his team mates, who subsequently decided to stop pissing around and play a good game of football. Continue reading →
TFN’s Alastair Nasmyth is sceptical of football’s growing obsession with statistics…
Football has always been surprisingly suspicious of new technology. How long after cricket did we finally start seeing Hawkeye technology used for goal line disputes (it’s so simple and they also keep pigeons off the pitch)? Will football ever join the majority of professional sports that use television replays? Or is a can of shaving foam the only form help we’re willing to give the men trying to do the impossible job? While the authorities have treated scientific advances and their potential applications in the game in the same way that my Nan treats her mobile phone (used at arms length and with a look of worry on her face like it might explode in her hand), everyone else connected with the sport is embracing it with open arms, and no one more so than the statisticians. Continue reading →
TFN’s latest signing Alastair Nasmyth marvels at the career of Michael Owen…
Recently you may have had the opportunity to have seen a rarely broadcast piece of footage amidst the modest pre-tournament build-up of a young England player leaving an Argentinian defence for dead and scoring a goal that was to bring this little known (outside of England) youngster to the attention of the world. That man – boy – was Michael Owen. Now I don’t want to brag but as an experienced manager (3 Premier League titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 UEFA Cup, 1 Champions League – Championship Manager 95/96) I’d been calling for his inclusion from the start of the tournament. Even as a 13 year old I’d seen how well he’d dovetail with Alan Shearer in my fictitious all-conquering Liverpool team. The goal itself was great; the deft touch with the outside of his foot to set himself up and then pace and strength, something not always associated with his game, to get past Jose Chamot. Then the cut grass (as the French say), drifting away from goal to get away from Roberto Ayala he thrakes the ball into the top corner on the far side of the goal.
After the dust had settled from David Beckham’s red card and loss on penalties, the one shinning light was this lad from Chester. If he could do this when he was only 18 think what he could achieve over the next 10 years, his first shave perhaps. Liverpool and England fans alike were salivating over the potential this boy (man) possessed and for the next 5 years he was to fulfil it as much as could be expected. The next season he went on to win a second Premiership Golden Boot (I wonder if they gave him a left and right?) including hat-tricks against Newcastle and Forest carrying Liverpool as best he could before injuring his hamstring towards the end of the season, an injury that would re-occur throughout his career. Continue reading →
In the fifth instalment of ‘Tacticle Your Fancy’,Simon Smith compares the style and roles of Mesut Ozil and Wayne Rooney…
The recent debate about what’s wrong with Mesut Ozil has really captured my imagination, perhaps almost as much as his unlikely summer transfer itself did. Everyone seems to agree that there’s something wrong with the way he is playing at the moment, and yet there seems to be so much inconsistency in the reports. Sure, we can agree that he has a tendency to ghost in and out of games and perhaps it is fair to see he isn’t the most proactive player off the ball. The jump I find hard to make is how we get from this very general observation to the very niche and specific problem of why he is out of form: surely this is how he plays always, when in form as well as out?
The excellent two minute debate about whether he should be left out of the starting XI to face Manchester United by Sky Sports News was simply thrilling, in that while the panel managed to point out some home truths about the player, they all seemed to miss the point somewhat. It was a brilliant display of how big generalisations about players lead to a misinterpretation of specifics in games. Continue reading →
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 →
Chris Francis pinpoints the real issue behind Manchester United’s failings this season…
Forget the midfield deficiencies. Leave the questions regarding full backs. Ignore the limitations of a strike force shorn of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. The biggest issue United have at present is leadership.
There is a distinct lack of the stuff at Old Trafford.
It sounds ridiculous to hold this up as a problem when you look at the experience of the players available to David Moyes. Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, and Patrice Evra have all got bucket loads of the stuff, and at different points in their careers in Manchester have show outstanding leadership skills. But Vidic looks unhappy and frustrated at the predicament in which his team currently find themselves, Ferdinand is rarely given a game, Giggs is no longer the influential figure he was, and Evra’s performances have been decidedly hit and miss for the first half of this season.