Rooney coddling misses the point

BY foxsports • September 13, 2010

Football managers are known to manipulate facts and create their own reality when it comes to their clubs and players.

It’s all part of the psychological warfare of conning opponents and motivating players. The best manager in this particular business is Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Scotsman has told more tales than Pinocchio and he was at it again this weekend as his team faced off against Everton minus their biggest star, ex-Evertonian Wayne Rooney.

Here is the quote that Ferguson made in regards to his shock team selection at Goodison Park.

"We made the decision to leave Wayne out simply because of the terrible abuse he always gets here," the Manchester United manager explained. "We didn't want to subject him to any more of that. We have a fantastic squad at this club and we are prepared to use it."

I can’t help but wonder if Ferguson is doing himself and Rooney a disservice with this statement, as it stretches the truth beyond the realm of credibility.

Does anyone seriously believe that Rooney wouldn’t have been able to handle 90 minutes of abuse from supporters who once worshipped the ground he walked on?

Any time he returns to Goodison Park, the vitriol is cranked up to levels that would make Sam Kinison blush but Rooney has heard it all before, hasn’t he? And let’s not forget, he’s Liverpool born and bred, which means he’s more than likely got a wicked sense of humor. The chant of ‘no woman, no Kai’ to the beat of the Bob Marley classic that the Toffee faithful had lined up would’ve had him rolling not foaming.

The feared abuse of Wayne Rooney is not the reason Ferguson left out his star player and everybody knows it.

Rooney was dropped because of the sex scandal that has engulfed the English tabloids over the last week and the shame it has brought on the club.

Rooney was dropped because he is in danger of thinking he is bigger than the club.

I’m wondering though if it would have been better, and a more potent message, for Ferguson to address the problems that Rooney is experiencing rather than trying to brush them under the carpet.

The United boss is currently rebuilding his team. There's a host of impressionable youngsters in the squad. By holding a candle to Rooney and extolling the virtues of say a Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes, Ferguson would have let his charges know that nobody is above the law.

Some may argue that he has put Rooney in his place and that the England man has already suffered enough embarrassment. We’ve seen in the past though that Ferguson is not afraid to throw his players under the bus if they’ve stepped out of line.

David Beckham went head-to-head with the gaffer and ended up in Madrid. The untouchable Roy Keane lost out and headed to Celtic. Even Eric Cantona, the man most responsible for creating the United juggernaut was brought to heel.

If Ferguson continues to indulge Rooney, what’s he going to do when the likes of Johnny Evans and Federico Macheda slouch into training after having lurid headlines splashed across the tabloids.

You can’t keep dropping players as it’s going to hurt the short and long-term future of the team. Hitting them in the pocket may provide a brief wake up call, although I’m pretty sure the players association would have something to say about fining individuals for actions in their private lives.

Obviously the most sensible solution is to tell the truth and hope that the public embarrassment will result in a change of behavior.

Sir Alex Ferguson has proven time and again that there is no one better at managing players. But now there is a new breed coming through. They are overpaid, pampered, young and in some cases incredibly stupid.

They think that what they do outside of football will remain behind closed doors. That just isn’t going to happen anymore.

Ferguson needs to adjust his thinking. It might be difficult. He’s old school, but the days of telling a whopper, circling the wagons and protecting players may well be nearing an end.

The truth may hurt but you can’t buy integrity and, at the end of the day, Ferguson would rather go to war with a team of men because a collection of 'chavs' will fold quicker than a deck of cards.

Nick Webster is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering the Barclay's Premier League and the English national team.


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