Tuesday, 1 March 2011


How two ‘role models’ make this evening's clash a shameful occasion for football

Party: What could have been for Wayne had he not found stardom
An air rifle going off. A calculated forearm into the back of someone’s skull. It’s the sort of script that would not look out of place in a Guy Ritchie film.

Instead, these are the actions of two experienced England international football players and role models to millions of children worldwide.

On Saturday, Wayne Rooney helped Manchester United cruise to a 4-0 win over Wigan at the DW Stadium.

But the game will be remembered for all the wrong reasons as, eight minutes in, England’s star player charged into midfielder James McCarthy, appearing to use his forearm to get the better of his marker.

What kind of an example does this set to youngsters; those who replicate the actions of their heroes in the playground the next day?

A couple of weeks ago, Rooney scored the goal of the season when he acrobatically won United the derby game against cross-city rivals City.

The day later, kids up and down the land will have attempted to replicate this act of virtuosity.

But will this mean this time they will be smashing into their pals in order to get a shot on goal?

Rooney’s prodigious talents were born on the streets of Croxteth, Liverpool, where he grew up. Yes he has produced some breathtaking moments in his short career, but this latest indiscretion makes him more street-brawler then street-baller.

Rooney’s United will come up against Chelsea tonight, who have a less-than-squeaky clean player on their books also.

Ashley Cole’s latest faux pas has seen him not only take a firearm into Chelsea’s training base in Cobham but, apparently against his better judgement, fire it at a 21-year-old work experience student.

Ashley Cole: shooting himself in the foot once again
What kind of a work place has Roman Abramovich created at Chelsea that a 30-year-old, 87-capped international footballer feels it ok to bring an air rifle into work with him?

Both players should know better, but repeatedly seem to take advantage of the privileged positions they have found themselves in.

The two have continuously flouted the lifestyles many would love to swap, but yet they constantly keep finding themselves at the mercy of their clubs, who persist in supporting them through thick and thin.

Cole’s manager Carlo Anchelotti said: “What do we have to do now? Kill him? No. We have to support him. It would be very different had he not said sorry.

“We are not happy because he stepped over the line, but we have to support him.”

On the work-expo, Anchelotti said: “We’re really disappointed for the guy who was a victim in this.”

Hardly an apology, Carlo.

But when will these two learn? 

This was the perfect opportunity for both the FA and their clubs to throw the book at them.

Rooney and Cole should be facing lengthily suspensions, starting at Stamford Bridge tonight.

No player likes to miss the big games, and if the FA had made an example of them, perhaps it would have gone a long way in curbing their mischievous streaks.

Graham Poll, a former Premier League and World Cup referee, has argued once referee Mark Clattenburg (surprise, surprise) dealt with the Rooney incident on the field and indicated he did as much in his post-match report, there was very little the FA could do retrospectively.

Yes we all want to see the best players playing on the biggest stage, and no doubt this may have played on the minds’ of the FA bigwigs who ran the rule over the collision.

But at what cost? McCarthy could still be in intensive care or permanently handicapped from the assault. While the 21-year-old who was a victim of Cole's stupidity could have seen his life turned upside down, if not taken away from him.

Neither have had to face up to past indiscretions - Cole losing wife Cheryl the only anomaly to this rule - so expect further misdemeanours down the line.

Instead, it appears the worst Rooney will face is a hotter reception than usual from the Chelsea fans, while Cole will face disciplinary measures internally from his club, which will ‘remain in-house’, according to Anchelotti.

Tonight they line up on opposition teams as Chelsea and United go head to head in a crunch game in the race for the Premier League.

But in truth, they both represent a thug culture that, I’m afraid to say, makes it a shameful evening to be a football fan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good article, Nick. Neither should be playing tonight.