Walking off the pitch at the end of England’s game against Algeria- a disappointingly drawn game in which he played particularly poorly- Wayne Rooney took the time to deliver a video message to the fans. You’ve probably heard about it; I imagine a few of the newspapers mentioned it.
“Nice to see your home fans boo you. That’s what loyal support is” he said and, yeah, good shout, Wayne. I mean that literally, too. In a tournament where it had been previously assumed impossible to even hear oneself about the drone of the Vuvuzeleas, even his toughest critics would be forced to concede that getting your words heard by the 21.3 million people ITV report were watching on Friday night is some achievement, even taking into account how many of those 21.3 million would have already switched channels by the time of Wayne’s to camera piece so as to avoid bumping into James Corden.
Rooney has evidently put a lot of thought in to getting his message heard, which is to his credit. Would, though, that he put similar thought in to the crafting of the message itself. For one thing, ‘home fans’? Wayne, you’re playing in South Africa- it’s going on 6000 miles from ‘home’. Even when they talked of you being miles off the pace afterwards, I don’t think they meant that many miles. Secondly, it seems disappointing to be resorting to that horary old crutch that peculiarly English comedy device, sarcasm, so early in the competition. It’s hard to imagine a Kaka or a Messi using such base wit when finding a camera at the end of a World Cup fixture- those lads seem more comfortable on the camera, more adroit and cavalier, always have a trick up the same sleeve Rooney probably keeps his written speech just in case he forgets anything- and even the French, not a team without their own problems at this tournament, have demonstrated a certain imagination in their insults that seemed beyond England’s brightest hope. Is this a problem with coaching? Should our lads be being taught to just get out there and enjoy their spittle leaden monologues from an early age, with less pressure on hitting marks and not treading on the feet of any ball boys in the vicinity handing out the energy drinks?
Further, to whom was the message addressed? His anger was visible and clearly meant for those in the stadium. But they couldn’t hear him. So presumably we were expected to relay his thoughts to them somehow, via, one can only conclude, people we know who’ve travelled out there. That’s going to put a strain on the old phone bill isn’t it? I suppose Wayne can be forgiven this oversight, given that he thought the game was being played at Wembley. But, even so, next time it would surely be easier for everybody were he to nip out during the second half and ask the people operating the P.A system if they wouldn’t mind squeezing his message in between the safety guidelines and the happy birthdays. It’s not like anybody would have missed him on the pitch and, as a bonus, he would have been able to extend his best wishes- and those of the rest of the squad- to the gaffer on his sixty fourth. But I suppose that way we’re back again to concerns regarding sarcasm and additional concerns, in this instance, of how well it translates.
And can I just make the suggestion that if our role in this exchange was the vital cog that transferred it from the speaker to its audience that he may want to consider his tone? Not shooting the messenger is a phrase usually only employed upon delivery of said message, something for the recipient to consider; the sender of the message usually needs no such advice with most realising that such an action would demonstrate, if nothing else, gross inefficiency.
He’s apologised for the statement, through the more stuffy method of a press release, which disappointed those among us who wanted the entire saga to play out, serial style, through a series of similarly shot post match reflections. He probably reasoned that the air time couldn’t take the strain of the narrative, which seems sensible given England’s performances thus far and how decent Slovenia look- one more thirty second slot was hardly likely to incorporate a proper storyline and character development. And such non development from Rooney would have felt, for the viewer, dramatically unsatisfying, no matter how symbolically apt.
Read more of Chris Mackin’s musings at his excellent site ‘Partially Deflated’