Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring for United (Picture: thesun.co.uk)

GUEST BLOG: Is Wayne Rooney under too much pressure?

Speaking as one of Rooney’s biggest critics of the last few years, this is a little bit strange to write. Am I going to defend Rooney for his shambolic displays, no. Am I going to fanboy on him and explain why he should always start, certainly not. Am I going to try and shed some light on why Wayne Rooney is half the footballer he used to be, maybe.

So we have heard various different theories about why his performances have fallen further and quicker than a jet propelled rock thrown off the Eiffel tower. The “too many miles on the clock” theory, the “too much money to care” hypothesis, the idea that he doesn’t look after himself or eat well, smokes and drinks too much. And of course lets not forget the argument that his role as a captain is stifling his care free boy from the street attitude to football.

A dejected Wayne Rooney in action for United
A dejected Wayne Rooney in action for United

Well he is 30 soon to be 31, even with so many games under his clock I find it hard to believe he could be under so much pressure physically. For one we would see far more injuries with him as his body breaks down such as Vincent Company or Michael Owen. Secondly I don’t understand how his technical ability could suffer so much even without a yard of pace. We have all seen ex pros, or even retired players of 50 years of age or more, who played for good local clubs run rings around people in 5 aside. These veterans of the game still retain their technique, composure and poise, something which Rooney is void of at the moment. Also he posted one of the fastest in game sprints last year for the team. Too many miles on the clock? I don’t buy it.

As regards too much money to care, I also cant believe that this is the case. You can see his passion for the team hasn’t dwindled , you can see that he tracks back and barks orders to team mates. Every time he takes a bad touch or does something wrong he looks visibly disappointed and almost ashamed. Why feel shame if you don’t care? Once again i don’t buy it.

On to the suspicion that he doesn’t look after himself. I would find it incredibly hard to believe that 3 managers in succession would name a man captain who is so unprofessional as to not even do the very basic thing of looking after yourself in regards to nutrition and health. All the reports are that he is a top pro and although he will never be ripped with a 6 pack bulging I think this season he looks as trim as ever.

Wayne Rooney has adopted a midfield role for both club and country (Picture: blog.paddypower.com)
Wayne Rooney has adopted a midfield role for England (Picture: blog.paddypower.com)

The captain issue is one where I think could be having a detrimental affect, mental being the appropriate word. Is he thinking too much? Is he looking after everyone else before he looks after himself? Perhaps. If being captain is getting into his head and affecting his level of performance it shows a lack of mental strength. That’s not a criticism of him, that job is not for everyone. His managers should be held accountable for that.

However I put forward a different suggestion, a feeling I have that maybe his drastic dip in form is a mental pressure of another kind. Something that has been looming on the horizon for 3 years at least. Something that brings a type of pressure not seen for 40 years or more. Something that would elevate him above all United players no matter what criticism was thrown at him. The record. Could you imagine the pressure of that scoring record hanging around your neck dragging you down to the depths, unrelenting. England’s boy wonder, destined for greatness, he can do no wrong. Oh my god the pressure. Could this type of mental torture explain his performances for England at major tournaments? I think so. Could it explain his in-explainable, inexcusable lack of footballing ability? How can a top performer suddenly not execute even the basics like controlling the ball and shielding the ball.

I can only point to the pressure of living up to expectations. Like a younger sibling trying to live up to their older brothers achievements. Like a son trying to live up to the legend of his father. Good parents would shield their children from this type of pressure. Most children have mental frailties and simply would not cope or function to the best of their abilities under that type of burden. No, a good parent would protect them from that stress and let them shine. Only this time with Wayne Rooney the media and the public are the bad parents. Constantly berating the “child” and reminding them that if they don’t achieve that record, they have failed miserably. Im not suggesting Wayne Rooney is a child, far from it, this is just an analogy. I think its apt though.
A good agent, a good manager would and could have protected Rooney. Perhaps if the problem was diagnosed and approached correctly it wouldn’t be a problem at all. There are sports psychologists, there are hypnotists, there is help. Widely recognized scientifically proven help. Golfers use it, athletes use it. There’s no reason why superstars like Wayne Rooney shouldn’t use it.

Just another theory on how to solve and help the conundrum that is Wayne Rooney. Lets hope he breaks the record soon!

FOLLOW Eoghan: @Darthschracker

Paul Gardiner

Webmaster, Writer, Editor and Podcast host for The United Stand. An avid Manchester United supporter since I can remember.

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Sandeep KalathimekkadVarun BansalStefan Recent comment authors
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It was expected for Manchester United to win yesterday’s game. Ibrahimovic’s goals came as a nice surprise. It is good to see Manchester United scoring a victory in this match… Read more »

Varun Bansal
Varun Bansal

Rooney became complacent but after Jose put him on the bench he came to know that he has to work hard to make his way into the team so he… Read more »

Sandeep Kalathimekkad
Sandeep Kalathimekkad

Excellent article. Pressure of captaincy might be an issue. But solving that by stripping him of that now might destroy him even more. Wish Moyes or Van Gaal had done… Read more »