IT is not often that I come to the defence of a footballer but, in Wayne Rooney’s case, I’m going to make an exception.
The under-fire England forward took to Facebook this week to dispel reports that he had been forced to train with the reserves ahead of today’s crunch Group ‘D’ clash against Uruguay.
According to Rooney, he did extra training “because that’s what I wanted to do”.
Now, having spoken his mind, his comments are being painted as “lashing out” at the media criticism of his efforts.
It’s an easy story for us journalists but that doesn’t mean to say that I don’t have an element of sympathy for the no-win situation that the Manchester United man finds himself in.
While Rooney may have been ill-advised to venture onto social media to express his views, he hasn’t said anything controversial. In an era when footballers are constantly under scrutiny and often ridiculed for posting Tweets before engaging their brains, his words appeared to have been as carefully considered as possible.
What is clear though is that Rooney is exasperated by the situation. He probably feels that whatever he does, it won’t be good enough.
The fact he earns £300,000 a week doesn’t make him fair game without justification. Rooney is under pressure to perform and continually being reminded that he hasn’t scored at a World Cup won’t help him.
Whether he should be played on the left or dropped from the team completely are valid debating points but nothing Rooney can do anything about.
Apart from, to coin a dreadful football cliche, continue to train and work hard. Which he seems to be doing.