Lovers of irony, sarcasm or cynicism, let this headline not fool you. For all the brickbats hurled at the newly hirsute Mr. Rooney since his petulant red card against Montenegro, RGSOAS arrives in time to hurl itself bravely before the salvo of abuse, and selflessly take said brickbats in the balls on Wayne’s behalf. But why?
Yes, it was a deserved red card. Yes, it now creates problems that extend to the rest of the England team as a whole. Yes, it was another episode of dark shame for the bootiful game, which England is the best at.
But. The response immediately after the foul was committed should rightly impress us, if only a little. He didn’t contest the red card, he didn’t malign Montenegrin play-acting, he didn’t swear at the referee.
Well, of course, you might say. It’s the least he can do in the wake of such an undignified act. We shouldn’t be thanking him for not digging the hole any deeper. As one of England’s more experienced players, he shouldn’t be acting like this in the first place, much less inciting further trouble.
The stock defence for Rooney’s hot head has always been that, if you remove that fiery temperament, you neuter the essence of the man, the player that can win games single-handedly. If the price to pay for such a talent is the odd misdemeanour, then so be it. It’s the way of the single-minded maverick, and separates the Maradona’s, the Zidane’s and the Cantona’s from the rest.
There are those that will look at the red card as a portentous lapse back into old habits, but there was a refreshing nature to this misdeed. He knew the jig was up, and instantly got on with the business of accepting responsibility. This time, you feel that there might not necessarily be a next time.
And anyway, the biggest scandal of the game was this fucking monstrosity….