Skip to Main Content
Members:   Log In Sign Up
Text:  A  A  A

Fans Comment

The Rooney Party Pooper
Some cogent thoughts from Paul Jones on this season's Rooney mystery

18 November 2003

When Wayne Rooney first stepped out in a white England shirt, I felt a pride that is normally reserved for the achievements of family members and close friends.  When he found the back of the net in an England shirt to make him the youngest player ever to achieve this, that pride was swelled to bursting point.

So why did another fine display by the Boy Wonder, against Denmark, leave me feeling a little deflated?  When the plaudits were raining in and seasoned pros were queuing up to extol the virtues of his precocious talent, was I the only Evertonian who found it all a little sycophantic maybe (whisper it quietly) a little over-the-top?

I have spent much of my time since the game trying to analyse my reaction, trying to determine why I feel so apathetic about it; while the reasons behind my lack of exuberance may make disturbing readings for most die-hard blues, please bear with me I will attempt to justify the mood and even try to gain something positive from it.

In a nutshell, Wayne's performances in a blue shirt this season have been little more than anonymous.  The only cages he's rattled in the Premiership this season have been those of the referees he's given too much lip to.  His greatest achievement for us appears to be when he can go a whole game without a yellow card.

Now I'm not for a moment doubting his talent; we all knew how good he was months before the media bandwagon gained the frightening momentum that now accompanies everything he ever does, either on or off the pitch.  Is the problem an attitude one, then?  Can he be bothered playing for a side that has lost its way so dramatically that it doesn't know one end of the pitch from the other? 

No.  Nobody doubts his commitment to his boyhood club, and the number of yellow cards he has amassed this season, while frustrating to those of us who want him to take part in every game we play, are also a testimony to the frustration he must be feeling when he's trying to ignite some spark from the black hole that is Everton Football Club this season.

The answer lies not inside Wayne but all around him on the pitch.  While the England side that struggled against a mediocre Danish team wasn't exactly bristling with creativity, there were still individuals on the pitch who could come up with a telling through-ball or something unpredictable (Messrs Beckham, Lampard and Cole in particular).

What does he have to work with at Everton?  The nearest thing we've got to unpredictability is Thomas Gravesen, the poor man's David Beckham, who strutted around the pitch on Sunday spreading 30-40 yard balls backwards and sideways, the man who seems to enjoy trying to pass a ball within inches of the opposition. (Does he get a buzz from seeing how close he can get to giving the ball away? We've been bitten enough times to know he's not very good at keeping the ball does someone need to tell him?)

The opposition know that our creativity stems from Rooney, and all they need to do to stifle it is to put two men on him.  And how do they get away with that?  Well, who else is willing to take the game by the scruff of the neck and take people on?  Linderoth?  Li Tie?  Carsley?  The pedestrian Kilbane?

No hence Rooney's frustration... and the yellow cards.

There is one man who can help, and that's got to be Jamie McFadden.  If we played McFadden and Rooney together from the outset of a game, the opposition could not afford to put two men on either of them, because the other would inevitably find the space to exploit the gaps this would leave.  Get them playing and GET THE BALL TO THEIR FEET; neither of them are hulking six footers, so get the ball up to them early and make it accurate.  Given time, I believe these two players could do the rest.

Perhaps Osman is another option we could add to the mix, but I can't imagine Moyesy would rush to field these three and Radzinski in a side where the balance would inevitably dip the wrong way (except when we're 3-0 down with five minutes left on the clock, anyway).

So forgive me if I seemed like a party-pooper at the start of this article, but if you still feel that way then ask yourself this; if we're having a party at Goodison this season, then why is nobody smiling?

Paul Jones

2003 ToffeeWeb


We use cookies to enhance your experience on ToffeeWeb and to enable certain features. By using the website you are consenting to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.