Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lesson Learned: Don't anger Wayne Rooney

There are several unwavering lessons in soccer: never bet against the Germans, if you're going to tackle from behind, make sure it counts, and the latest one: don't mess with Wayne Rooney. If the irascible, potato-headed striker gets frustrated or flustered, well, let's just say the results aren't pretty.

Yesterday's unlucky recipient of this logic was Aab Aalborg midfielder Kasper Risgaard, who received his wisdom via flying feet and cleat marks somewhere in the chest region.

To the tape! And, to the post-match quotes!

First, the video evidence. I am not a physicist by any means, but there's more than just gravity at work there. Perhaps a soupcon of malice? Wayne was surely irritated at his side's scrappy performance against the eliminated Danish side, not to mention the lack of success in front of goal at Old Trafford. The video shows a couple of other incidents, including a baffling kick on a defender with the ball nowhere near, and some shoving with a defender once the ball has gone. I'm not saying he should be sent off, but there's some middle ground there! The ref didn't do a thing!

Unsurprisingly, everyone's weighing in, including coaches and players.

We get the victim's response first. What say you, young Risgaard?

"I don’t know what he was thinking but he jumped on my chest. I don’t know why but I think he was a little bit frustrated. But I don’t understand it because they were playing good football and the score was 1-1 at the time. Anywhere else but here and it would have been a red card. But the referee didn’t say anything. I think referees are frightened to punish players at Old Trafford, and especially players like Rooney. But I can see the marks on my chest - big marks. He’s apologized, so that’s OK. But there was another incident too when he used his arm to hurt one of our players. I don’t think it looks good on television."
Fair point about Old Trafford, and there is definitely something about Rooney and his temper that we've seen before that makes me wonder. He's a fiery player (in the best and worst sense of the word), but it looks like he did get lucky with this one.

Aalborg manager Allan Kuhn was also non-committal as to intent, although upon further review (something that UEFA said they might do as both linesmen and the referee missed the incident) he might change his mind:
It is not good for a fantastic footballer. You have to keep your head and stay calm in situations like that - but that man was a little bit frustrated. I was not sure during the game and I have not seen the pictures, so I cannot be 100% sure, but some of my people have seen it and said it was."
Of course Fergie looked at it the other way: AaB were the dirty ones, not Wayne! "Aalborg are not short of tackles are they? They got stuck in and the one on Carlos was a blatant attack. Probably what saved him was that Carlos got straight up."

You have to admire the man's ability to deflect and change the subject completely. What we should be talking about is the goalkeeper's tackle on Tevez, not young Wayne!

Will anything come of this? Probably not - the news cycle is fickle and fast-paced like that. But it still merits some debate, mainly because Rooney is that type of character, capable of moments of brilliance and moments of madness at any given time. We've seen it in an Everton shirt, in the England shirt, and plenty of times in Manc red.


ΓΌ75 said...

Total fouls called in the match: 6. The referee wasn't punishing anything.

JT said...

Right, which is absurd considering at least two of the incidents on the video were whistle-worthy. That said, surely UEFA will review this one. They have to do something with their days, don't they?

Andrew said...

The point about the Theatre of Poo is well-taken. Giving Rooney a yellow at that venue invites negative comments from SAG. Yet, when looking at the post match comments, not whistling a foul or pulling a card also invites comments from Ol' Red. So, fuck it, might as well call them.

Rooney plays with both ways that can be read. But he's gonna pull a Gazza and hurt his team in a big match by continuing that nonsense.