• Straight Outta Top Trumps (part 3.0)

    Happy Birthday, Wayne.

    The ease with which I assume I can send you salutations on your birthday, Wayne, surprises even me. I suppose it must get on your nerves; this over familiarity from everyone, like we’re all old street-style soccer mates together. I get the sense, though, that you don’t mind too much, ‘...a decent guy’, you’ll hope they’ll say, after watching the doco (Rooney - The Man Behind The Goals). You know that’s the trade off - as does Colleen in her own way - and you are both happy to continue for a while longer waiting for it all to blow out.

    Hurricane Patricia weakened rapidly on your 30th birthday. It made me wonder about you. At the start on the edge of your storm you seemed to be a force of nature across old Albion the like of which we had not seen these long years. We were enthralled: that goal against Arsenal; the perfect first touch, second touch close to scan; I bet you were excited to see the Arsenal back line dropping off leaving you a lot of space to move in to. Then, playing your third touch far forward to allow you to accelerate and move at speed in to that space the next decision was never in doubt for you; such confidence, such exuberance in the execution.

    There have been many great games and moments. You can retire happy in the knowledge that you have been a great player. When I first saw you and your physique I thought you might be done by twenty five so the fact that you are still playing at thirty is a bonus (to the tune of 60 months x £1M at your current rate card).

    And here, for me, the problems begin. I know that the documentary wasn’t designed for it, but I would have liked to have heard more from The Man Behind The Man Behind The Goals. It seems to me that Paul Stretford has done a disservice to you. You two-timed United and I would like to know more about Paul Stretford’s role in this. Personally, I thought United had been in decline, too, and I was amazed that Man City let van Persie go to United. If City had signed van Persie as I expected them to do it would have finally choked off the supply line of players and your argument would have gained weight.

    It’s interesting that you seemed to wither as van Persie got stronger. This struck me as a similar dynamic to when Ronaldo really took flight. Have you got an inferiority complex, Wayne? If you were to say yes everyone could accept that. How could we not? Ronaldo and Messi have been debating the ballon d’or across the despatch box for so long in this two party politics of World Class players (by their own standards there are only two world class players).

    Making sense of the pecking order and trying to reconcile your value and worth in terms of any agreed contract must be stressful. Yes, you can get £250k per week, plus add-ons. You might even get the clause that states you must be the highest paid player. But that is worth nought when the heat is on in tournament football. I loved you once, but I've been hurt too many times and I don’t have the heart to give you one more chance. I am looking to trade you in for a younger model.

    I pitched this thing as a Top Trumps hat-trick because it was clear that you would take Bobby Charlton’s England record in this cycle. My kids were going nuts for Top trumps in the half term. They couldn’t decide which to get (i.e. cars, Nerf-guns, football) so we got some two-for-ones and I got a football pack: Messi (yes), Ronaldo (yes), then another, then another and another and another and still more until, finally, you appeared. It made me wonder if these had been independently judged and ranked in this order (i.e. Messi first, Ronaldo second, etc, etc). To that end, it could be worse: if you did have an inferiority complex as a result of Ronaldo then look what Messi has done to him! It seems a hard gig on one level, this football super star life you lead. Remember Ronaldo Mk1 being forced on to the pitch at the France ’98 Final? Are you now caught in the same brand ambassador trap, I wonder?

    Is it nailed on that you’ll beat Charlton’s Man U record? I’m not sure. Your performance in the derby might be instructive. I wonder whether, like Hurricane Patricia, you might remain front of stage a while longer, but fade away to give football fans a topical depression. It’s lucky for you that Hodgson has hung on to the England job to give you game time to get more goals. In fact, it’s interesting that you say you like playing under Roy the best - I suspect that’s because he’s in awe of you and terrified of dropping you. Anyway, Roy and the United Superstore keep calling on you, presumably because the FA and the United Finance departments have got their sums wrong. Let's see how it all plays out from here through to Euro 2016, shall we?

    Until then, Wayne, to salute what you had in a way you like I give you for your birthday this poem:

    He will shower youse

    moist with memories. Rooney:

    Edge Of Seventeen.

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