Wayne Rooney is rarely, if ever, substituted unless he is carrying an injury or we’ve got a lot of important games over a short period of time towards the business end of the season. Whether he’s playing well or playing badly, he tends to see out the 90 minutes.

However, following his poor form this season, you would have been forgiven for thinking that Sir Alex Ferguson was making a brave move at the Reebok yesterday in subbing him off. Whilst playing a couple of perfect long range balls to remind us just how good he can be, he was generally off the boil. He had a good effort from outside the box which just cleared the crossbar but other than that, he was fairly anonymous. You will probably remember him on the ball though because every touch he had was met with boos from the home fans. Who knew Coleen Rooney was so well liked in Bolton?

However, when sat back on the bench, Rooney iced his ankle, alongside team mate Ryan Giggs who had ice on his hamstring.

After the game, Ferguson confirmed that Giggs would be out for a few weeks but Rooney was expected to travel to Spain for our match against Valencia.

Today though, the official website tells us that Rooney won’t travel, allowing the more cynical of us to ask questions. Whilst it would be totally reasonable to expect they’d misjudged the severity of Rooney’s injury, we’ve several reasons to doubt this being the case.

1. The club have already been dishonest with us about Rooney’s absence. He had a “stomach bug” which prevented him travelling to Craven Cottage. This raised a few eye-brows at the time, with rumours of Wazza’s infidelity pretty rife. A fortnight later the story broke in the papers and it became apparent United had been expecting this to happen on the weekend of Fulham.

2. The manager has confirmed the media attention is having a negative impact on Rooney. Rather than keep throwing him in the limelight, opening him up to more media slatings, it would make sense for Rooney to be rested until he gets his head together.

So, it begs the question whether Rooney would have been taken to the Valencia game had these stories about his private life not been revealed. We’ll never know and we can’t rely on the club for a straight answer, and rightly so. Whilst of course it would be nice to always know what is going on behind the scenes, we can trust the manager is acting in what he believes to be the player’s best interest.

Kevin Keegan has launched an attack on Rooney and whilst once upon a time I never would have been able to envisage siding with Kev over our Wazza, I do have to agree with him. You can’t sell your wedding pictures to the highest bidder, have a wife who is now a celebrity in her own right, thriving on media attention, and take the money of any willing company to put your face on the side of buses, billboards and video games, only to then try and shy away from media attention when you fuck up.

“It is impossible for us, as it would be for any family, to attempt to resolve any issues in the current media glare and against the backdrop of so many inaccurate and intrusive stories. We ask that the media respects our privacy and the right of our family to discuss these matters in private.”

Their statement of a couple of weeks ago fell on deaf ears though and it’s hard to argue with that. The media attention is effecting our player so of course we want it to stop but we can’t really expect that to happen.

It brings me back to the points I argued at the time of this story breaking. If you want to ignore the moral implications of this, claiming it’s nothing to do with the fans what a United player does in their private life, regardless of the fact they’re paid thousands upon thousands a week to be representatives of our club, it’s impossible to argue that what Rooney did off the pitch isn’t negatively effecting our team on it.

Rooney may well be injured and even if he wasn’t, a European 451/433 formation would more than likely just require the in form Dimitar Berbatov to be our starting striker. Still, Rooney’s form should be a big concern for us. Our defence are leaking goals but that would likely be irrelevant if we had an in form Rooney banging them in alongside the red hot Berb right now.

So, best of luck on your recovery Wazza, mentally as well as physically.




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