Time to take duo out of the firing line

Wayne RooneyWe’re told that before Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, signed his new contract, he gave considerate thought to the possibility of taking a break from football. Obviously, he didn’t. But it makes you think – why not? There are a few characters in football who could possibly do with the same, like Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney. It’s been a difficult season for both, so maybe a short spell away from the game is exactly what they both need.

I’m not talking a long time, clearly. I’d hate to see two great footballers disappear from our television sets just because they are no longer the nation’s favourite strikers. But I’m betting both can’t wait for the summer. Fernando Torres spent half of this season throwing his toys out of his rather expensive pram, before finally getting his way and moving to a club who could possibly be in danger of challenging for a trophy some time soon. But £50 million is a lot of money for any player and it invites its own type of pressure. Just because the Spaniard hasn’t netted for Chelsea yet, we are all spending our spare time trying to convince our mates that ‘I always said he was a waste of money’. But if we’re honest, he has been, and will be for some time yet, one of the best strikers in the world. Signing for a new team half way through a season – especially one of your rivals – is never the easiest thing to do, so I’m guessing the 26-year-old can’t wait for us all to become rugby experts whilst watching the World Cup in the summer, just to take a little heat off him.

Wayne Rooney isn’t in too dissimilar a position, either. No one will ever know what went through his head when he decided to hand in a transfer request. What I am sure of is this: he’s definitely seen the error of his ways. But in the eyes of every football fan in the world (other than Manchester United supporters, of course) the forward can do no right. Every time he misplaces a pass, or doesn’t manage to find the net with an overhead kick, he is scrutinised and judged; ‘Rooney isn’t the same these days. He hasn’t looked right since last season – I’ve been saying it for ages’.

If we put aside loyalties, which if we are honest, is what these opinions are borne out of, we should all be able to recognise that neither player has lost it overnight. Torres wants trophies, and didn’t see it happening at Liverpool, so he left. Rooney had his head turned by money and ended up with a new contract, so he stayed. Neither have been covered in glory for their respective dramas, but it has happened and we are all slightly bitter and twisted about it. What we need, and what both players need, is a break.

When the next big name decides to hand in a transfer request the second he feels he should be earning more than £3 million a day, which seems to be a growing trend, the spotlight will soon move off of Rooney and on to someone else. With the way money is splashed around these days, especially by Premier League clubs, this summer is sure to bring another multi-million pound transfer, so maybe Torres can get back to making defenders look stupid and scoring goals.

I’ve no doubt both will be back amongst the goals very soon. I never thought I’d hear myself justifying a player’s selfishness, but such is life in modern football. In the summer, Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres can get away from life as the most famous stars around and concentrate on getting back to the norm – scoring goals. It’s not really an excuse for people who get paid as handsomely as they do, but all they need is a little time. Let’s just hope they don’t spend their summer holidays in brothels or anything. Lesson learnt, Wayne…

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