Where’s The Respect?

Everybody has seen Wayne Rooney’s down-the-camera effing and everyone has their opinion on it. Here is mine. I think Wayne Rooney is an idiot.

Let’s look at the evidence. Rooney emerges a few years ago as a teenage star. He is embraced by the nation, who forgive him his ridiculous indiscretions with grandmothers, a red card in the 2006 World Cup and more off-field dramas. He hits the form of his life as England prepare to head to South Africa. Amid a stinker of a tournament, he looks down the barrel of the camera to berate fans for their disloyalty when they have the nerve to voice their displeasure at the tepid 0-0 draw with Algeria.

This season, as Britain struggles against the credit crunch, Rooney threatens to walk out on United, before changing his mind when offered a frankly obscene pay rise. The country is, understandably, disgusted. Even United fans are aggrieved at the way their hero seemed to hold the club to ransom. Still, even though he isn’t having the best season, they forgive him.

Does he show humility? Keep his head down and try and regain the nation’s affection? No, he looks into the camera again and swears at every single one of us with an aggressive demeanour more suited to a yob that’s just about to punch your face in outside some small-town nightclub than one of the world’s supreme athletes. He is a role model to countless kids and yet abuses his position so openly. I have not an ounce of respect for the man.

And that is the key word. Respect. If Rooney needs to take a long hard look at the way he behaves, then so does the whole of the football community. At the moment we’re in a Catch 22 situation. Players act arrogantly because fans spend 90 minutes swearing at them and fans spend 90 minutes swearing at over-paid and ill-behaved players because they resent their arrogance and egos. Sadly I can’t see any way that the never-ending cycle of mindless abuse and disrespect will end. From Premier League to Sunday League, the good nature and humour of the beautiful game is being steadily replaced with nasty aggression and anger.

Still, we don’t have to be a part of it. Let’s enjoy our sport with dignity and with smiles on our faces and leave the thugs to try and out-moron each other. We may be in the minority, but that doesn’t stop us being right.

Words by Bobby Townsend