Well done, British Media, for constantly asking “what if..”

Daily Mirror
Well done, media, you got what you wanted..

After months of doom-mongering and encouraging with the ridiculous leading question “What if Wayne Rooney gets injured”, the media finally got their wish last night in Germany when the 34 goal striker pulled up with what looked like either a nasty ankle injury or even the dreaded m word, and left the stadium on crutches.

It’s been a strange few months; seeing United generally score a bucketload of goals with Rooney getting more than just his fair share. The praise for Rooney’s escalation in form has been scarce and begrudging when it surfaced; instead of the kind of accolades reserved for the likes of Arsenal or even Chelsea, United have been labelled a one man team, Rooney himself has seen his undeniable rise to prominence scoffed at by a Sky-generation led campaign that will tell you he’s not fit to lace Messi’s boots. Messi, in case you didn’t already know, is being touted in some corners of the media as the best ever player after two consecutive hat-tricks in La Liga. That reaction is the norm; of course when a United player does well it should be shot down in flames and laughed at by the media. Hell, we’re living in an age when a British broadcaster is actually enthusiastically cheering the cause of the foreign opponents of United in Europe.

The reaction to his form which is certainly far from the norm (or should be, given how it goes against the grain) is the incessant media chatter about “what would happen if Rooney gets injured?”

To single out one player, presumably only because of the club he plays for, for this kind of talk is almost prompting the event. Every tackle is met with a national wince; because despite him being apparently massively over-rated, you see, realistically the country know he’s the only chance of coming close to winning the World Cup this year. Which makes it even more strange to read the constant talk of a possible injury.

Why would people do it? Does it make people feel better, comfort people even, to now read about things that may only potentially harm United’s chances? Why does it not happen for Arsenal? Chelsea? Liverpool? Why are we not subjected to column inches regarding the impact a mythical serious injury to Fabregas or Torres could affect their clubs chances for glory? Only one thing comes from such talk; it’s the only real purpose of initiating it. To put it into the conciousness of players and teams.  This is more of a moral question than a sporting one. To actively and openly publish unfounded concerns about a potential injury to one specific person is bizarre. It’s almost as if the authors have given up on private black magic in the preference of a public hypnosis.

Strangely enough elsewhere in the country Arsene Wenger publicly talks up about teams roughing his players up and it’s having something of the desired effect. The way it goes is this; if a player goes in for a tackle where they are guilty of putting their foot near the ball then Wenger singles out that player after the game for a public haranguing. Having seen Martin Taylor’s reputation ruined by Wenger; Ryan Shawcross was next, then Danny Fox of Burnley had the audacity to perform a sliding tackle on Walcott and was roundly castigated (perfect tackle though it was) and Wenger subsequently indicated Walcott’s poor development was apparently down to a similar tackle 2 years ago. Then, of course, came his ridiculous swear word rant at the weekend. Still, such comments are having the desired effect. West Ham aren’t really in any kind of form where they would be expected to get a point but had they dared to apply themselves they could have arguably left the Emirates with all three – however a tackle was nowhere to be seen. This will be a feature of Arsenal’s run in and will result in them being gifted more goals and points. Players now think “if I go in for this tackle as full blooded as an Arsenal player I’ll either be stretchered off and be forgotten or have my reputation ruined.. is it worth it? No”. Case in point, has Campbell’s reckless tackle on the Hull player Zayatte (who had to be stretchered off) even been properly reported? It was carefully omitted from the match report on Arsenal’s official website. Zayatte, if you were wondering, is expected to miss the majority of Hull’s run in. Campbell, if you were wondering, having already been booked, stayed on. Whether he should have been booked or sent off for the tackle is open for debate – the reaction had the tackle been the other way around clearly isn’t.

That goes to show the two extremes of the media campaign – on the one hand you have them not wanting a team to be tackled and on the other they have incredibly singled out a player who they constantly imagine could get injured.

So, back to Rooney and United. The challenge itself was innocuous – the fact that we’re talking more about the repercussions of the injury rather than if the goal should have stood considering this happened in the build up tells you that even United fans realise it would have been harsh to call it even a foul – but there was still a sinking feeling of inevitability about it if you were watching it as a United fan.

So, congratulations, media. You’ve got what you wanted, a nightmare scenario. Our league position despite the crippling defensive injuries has apparently not been worthy of an accolade; if Rooney misses the lion’s share of the rest of the season as looks likely, then Dimitar Berbatov suddenly has a very real opportunity to live up to his pricetag. One thing’s for sure; if United, sans Rooney, can somehow keep in the hunt, then the team really will deserve the respect of being one of the best ever. The more likely situation if we do pull through will be that another player will be identified as our “one man”. Who will then most likely be subject of injury concern. Before he gets injured.

I use this page to complain about the media on a far too regular basis for my liking, generally regarding their ridiculous Southern bias, but campaigns such as one to essentially injury a particular player should be against the grain whoever you support. Waking up to a nation waiting tentatively for scan results leaves a very sickening taste in the mouth.

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20 Responses to “Well done, British Media, for constantly asking “what if..””

  1. dapxin says:

    The transparent thrill of being a United! fan, over the years, is the belief that United! has a way of turning adversity into prosperity.

    Was gonna be fun; Now, would be edgy-fun! United!—->

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  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Manchester United and Yolkie, Yolkie. Yolkie said: Media campaign for Rooney injury leaves sick taste in the mouth as they mourn today – my blog on the matter http://tinyurl.com/yfuzn2e [...]

  3. Lee says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. I watched Sir Alex’s press conference before the Liverpool game and some twit asked him the very same question regarding Rooney. The manager’s response was understandably curt and he asked him if he was sticking pins in dolls to make it happen. I’d think the same reporter will not be back at OT/Carrington in the near future.
    Do the press go around begging for Lampard or Drogba to get injured to see what will happen? We keep winning the league title and we are always a one man team. Cantona, Keane, Beckham (to a degree) Ronaldo, Rooney, I mean come on, Sir Alex builds fanatastic teams and now he is building fantastic squads. If we get through against Bayern and win the league (or one or other) it would be nice for this to be recognised by the press. Assuming they can put their dolls and pins away first.

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  4. mark says:

    you are right about them downplaying our players qualities!

    It used to happen with Ronaldo, now Rooney, before that other great players.

    There will be a few people out there who will probably he hoping Rooney is out for the rest of the season but fit for the precious world cup (which they won’t even win anyway, even with Rooney)

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  5. Mikeygooner says:

    What??!! As an arsenal fan I think u have no right to feeling castigated by the media. Remember the eduardo incident (dive) n gallas? Oh n obviously hansen n lineker are big fans of arsenal aren’t they?
    Rooney will not b the reason u win the world cup or not wat will b is the English attitude towards football. It’s the lack of flair n skills. No offence I ain’t making fun. I hate how the media always put a goal where a player slalom thru a defence down to a defensive mistake or how u marvel at a ‘proper hard and tough tackle’ n don’t care about the technical side of the game. N there’s arrogance as well ‘oh England will top their group it’s only USA’. U need a change of attitude.

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  6. Numb Nuts says:

    I think you too obsessed with Arsenal get grip.

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  7. mjc says:

    “Campbell, if you were wondering, having already been booked, stayed on. Whether he should have been booked or sent off for the tackle is open for debate….”

    I’m no expert in the rules of football, but, bearing in mind that Campbell won the tackle and possession of the ball, I don’t believe that the referee could have been giving the advantage to Hull.

    If there was no advantage, which there clearly wasn’t, wouldn’t you say that, in order for the ref to give Campbell a red card (or a yellow card) he would have to award a free kick?

    Or is it normal to expect a player to be sent off for a legal challenge?

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  8. Sani says:

    This is ridicullus of a typical british press. They have been wishing for wayne’s injury, now they’ve got it. I believe once berba step up to the task, and they will still go on with their loads of rubbish.

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  9. yolkie says:

    numbnuts / mikey – was just using Arsenal because it was an easy comparison with recent examples.

    mjc – How many times do we see a player win the ball in a tackle and get booked for the recklessness with which they tackled? In this case then you’re validating your own opinion by saying the referee deemed it fair; that in itself is subjective and not exactly fact. Another referee could have deemed it reckless – judging by how Wenger himself sees the barometer for reckless tackles, I would say Campbell’s was definitely in that vicinity.

    The point I was making anyway was given the talk in the media; would Campbell have been sent off if he was making that tackle for Hull against Arsenal? I think the answer is yes; consequently, had Campbell made that tackle against Arsenal, would more have been made of it reporting wise? The answer again is yes. Of course this is my opinion but I did use references to back it up.

    Your point about expecting players to be sent off for legal challenges is a fair one – I would to that refer to the Ramsey / Shawcross tackle. Trying to keep a non-bias view of it, I honestly felt Ramsey was just as reckless in the challenge as Shawcross was, but Ramsey was clearly by far the more unfortunate of the two. I would class that as a coming together but the severity of the injury and the players reactions persuaded the referee to send him off. I presume you will see it quite differently; but the fact that such an incident is subjective is the fundamental issue anyway.

    Regardless of that; surely with today’s FA disciplinary system and poor refereeing, it’s impossible to define what exactly is a normal expectation.

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  10. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by yolkie_: Media campaign for Rooney injury leaves sick taste in the mouth as they mourn today – my blog on the matter http://tinyurl.com/yfuzn2e

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  11. franco says:

    what a ludicrous article, blaming the media for Rooney’s injury. MU are the darlings of the press so the paranoia the writer displays is incredible. If you are not a 1 man team then you’ll go on and win a league which is yours to lose. But Bayern showed why your manager falls short on the CL stage with his negative tactics.

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  12. yolkie says:

    I wasn’t blaming the media; in fact I did basically say it was an unfortunate event. However I stand by the opinion that by scaremongering basically all season and intensifying since Christmas, the media have attempted to orchestrate such an event. You call it paranoia – fair enough, but please provide any other possible explanation to describe just why the media have constantly wondered “what if Rooney gets injured?”.

    It seems rather contrived, does it not? I don’t see the purpose of it if not to get the message into the wider conciousness of anyone listening that he is a vital component to United’s chances. What would happen if he were to get injured? Obviously, United would suffer. He’s one of the best players in the world for Christ’s sake. It wasn’t a question that needed to be asked but it was asked with such disturbing frequency that there simply had to be an agenda.

    Why single Rooney out? Why not Chelsea with Lampard/Terry, why not Arsenal with Fabregas, why not Liverpool with Gerrard?

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  13. Bongo says:

    This article is a load of bollocks! I’m an Arsenal fan and there are lots of Arsenal fans that complain of the same crap that somehow the media are against Arsenal blah blah blah.

    Rooney is being singled out? Are you f**king serious? Walcott misses a few shots and he’s shot down. Look at the crap Terry and Cole have had to deal with with their private lives being splashed all over the media. Wenger gets criticized for playing youngsters, Ferguson gets criticized for not replacing ronaldo, chelsea get criticized for not replacing their aging squad, Gerrard has been weathering a torrent of abuse from the English media due to Liverpool and his poor form all season.

    It’s obvious from this article that you don’t actually follow football, you follow Man Utd and take no notice of anything that happens to anyone else because you have some kind of false sense of entitlement and some stupid grudge against a media that love Rooney, ‘Englands great hope’

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  14. Al says:

    Slightly odd comments re Wenger. Surely the fact that both Taylor and Shawcross both snapped another professional’s leg (and in Shawcross’ case, not for the first time) is what ruined their reputations, rather than Wenger pointing out that what they did was wrong!?! Furthermore, I don’t see how you can label Fox’s tackle fair (which it was by the way) but label Campbell’s (equally fair but firm) tackle on Zayette as possibly a red card offense. (In fact, in that instance the player going in late with studs showing was actually Zayatte! He basically stampedon Campbell and twisted his leg in the process!)

    And seriously! Are you honestly claiming that Man U are unfairly treated by the press!?!?! How about we compare the reaction of the media to Eduardo’s dive and then to Rooney’s…

    And finally, what sort of superstitious nonsense is it to claim Rooney got injured ‘because’ the media went on about the worry of it happening?!?! Seriously, grow up!

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  15. Al says:

    (Oh, and as for why the media have worried about Rooney – its nothing to do with Man U. Its because in recent memory England’s best player has been injured just before a major tournament, so its natural to worry…)

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  16. yolkie says:

    Sorry mate if you’re going to accuse me of “not following football” then I’ll probably have to insist that you actually read the article.

    Where I have said Rooney has been singled out is that nearly all season (after the sales of Ronaldo/Tevez, but particularly since his great form since Christmas) most places have been posing the “what if Rooney gets injured” poser. Which to me is a bit of a moral poser more than anything. It’s a question that doesn’t need to be asked; if it did, the same article should be written for every single player. The fact that the same article hasn’t been written for every single player and has been just for Rooney very clearly indicates that he has been singled out.

    I didn’t think I’d have to actually explain that considering it’s written very clearly in the article.

    Of course other players get a rough ride in the media for their form or off the pitch antics or whatever – however, there hasn’t been a long-running campaign about a potential injury before it even happened for any player other than Rooney.

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  17. yolkie says:

    ..just to add to my previous post. Look at the number of websites you get by typing “What if Rooney gets injured” into search engines.

    This column from only a week ago –

    http://www.football365.co.uk/story/0,17033,8750_6047093,00.html

    “Top ten season deciding factors”

    1 – Wayne Rooney staying fit

    It’s just ridiculous scare-mongering.

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  18. Bongo says:

    okay, I was a little tired and perhaps a bit rash in my previous post, the point I was trying to make is that this is just the British media doing their usual crap. They do it to everyone and in fact they’re coverage of his injury now show that he’s the golden boy, just like Beckham was. The English media are far too intrusive on all players especially English ones.
    On the pitch they can do nothing wrong, dive, elbow someone in the back of the head etc. off the pitch they can do nothing right. Foreign players are treated differently, on the pitch every little thing is made into a huge deal. Off the ptich their behaviour is to be expected.
    I’m just glad the only English player we have is Walcott otherwise we’d have to listen to this crap constantly.

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  19. yolkie says:

    Bongo – I agree with you with the whole “Jonny Foreigner” concept. The British press in general seem to think British players are holier than thou and that it’s the naughty foreign influence. That of course is nonsense; but it is nonetheless interesting to hear from managers on the matter – though I don’t agree with the principle of it, a few weeks ago Wenger made comments along the lines of telling his players to handball if the opponents are breaking, or if they’re injured, to go down and hold their head to get the referee to stop – at least he was honest enough to admit he does it, I’m sure there are plenty of English managers who do the same.

    Al – just to re-iterate, I was making a general point about the subjectivity of the tackles. We can get into “it was a red card offence”, “it wasn’t”, I’m not really comparing the severity of the tackles or whether or not they were fouls or not, I’m just saying that people have different views of the same incident regardless of the referee’s decision.

    The thing that isn’t subjective however is Wenger’s line of comments after and before games regarding tackles, and I happen to be of the opinion that such comments probably weigh on some players minds when they’re making a decision to tackle an Arsenal player.

    I think Taylor and Shawcross both made genuine attempts for the ball – Taylor was reckless, Shawcross was the lucky one in a coming together, it wasn’t an attack such as, for instance, the Ben Thatcher one on Mendes a few years back or the Pogatetz one on Possebon in 2008. The unfortunate thing for Arsenal in those tackles Eduardo and Ramsey have ended up with bad injuries. Had Campbell’s tackle – which I also think was fair and robust, but given past circumstances, and Zayatte’s injury, I think he could have gone – been from a Hull player on an Arsenal one he would have gone. That’s the point I was making. It was clearly a reckless tackle as Zayatte is now injured and will be for most of the season.

    Regarding Rooney/media :

    Read the F365 link to see what I mean about scaremongering. This was an article published over a week ago, essentially saying Rooney’s availability was key to United’s hopes and that he has made a major difference. Well, duh. But instead of sticking with that (as they do with Fabregas, regularly saying his goals/assist tally is ‘phenonemal’ ‘breathtaking’ ‘insert superlative here’) they question what would happen to us if he were to get injured and that whether he did or not is the defining factor of the season. Does that not seem at least a little bizarre or off-colour to you at all?

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  20. yolkie says:

    By the way I know I appear to have contradicted myself with describing the Campbell tackle. To explain – In the end, it was a fair and robust one, because he won the ball, but he did badly injure an opponent and as such (not having control of his own body when it could harm a fellow player) it was reckless.

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  21. Bongo says:

    WHAT A MATCH! Sorry had to do it. You hit the nail on the head. Football isn’t only played on the pitch, it’s played in the media. You can win or lose game before your players even step on the pitch if you can use the press to your advantage and put ideas in players and referee’s heads.
    I’m the first to admit that Wenger will always try and give his players a psychological advantage and if that includes turning a successful strategy to stop us passing by pressing hard into a disdvantage where referees will come down on such teams or make the players of those teams nervous, I’m all for it.

    Taylor’s challenge wasn’t malicious but it was insanely dangerous, had that been Rooney or Gerard that he’d hurt do you think he would have gotten away so lightly?
    If Shawcross was Argentinian and Ramsey was English do you think the press would have been so forgiving, even though it was an idiotic lunge and he showed no intent to injure his record for injuring players due to mistimed tackles is woeful. When you break different players legs on separate occasions then questions need to be asked.
    If your driving along the road and you run over a kid, even if you didn’t mean it should you not be punished? Imagine if you were known to have run over people more than once while driving although unintentionally would you be allowed to drive? No, because it’s obvious you don;t know how to drive responsibly, Shawcross can’t tackle properly he keeps hurting people, once can be called unlucky but it’s become habit for him. But sure, he’s English so no questions need to be asked.

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  22. yolkie says:

    I do see where you’re coming from to an extent. To be honest if I were you I would be using the same argument, it’s much easier to be subjective as an outsider.

    Shawcross’s record is pretty bad; but lots of players have bad disciplinary records. It’s a freak of bad luck that he happened to do it to both Jeffers (I haven’t seen that incident admittedly) and Ramsey but I do believe the Ramsey one was a 50/50 that was unfortunate. Plenty of Arsenal players under Wenger have received multiple red cards, too. I think it would be unfair to label Shawcross a thug or a particularly brutal kind of player. He’s only young, yes he’s uncompromising, because of his size he’s probably going to give some players a bruising, but it is a contact sport and he did look genuinely horrified after the incident. If you think about it, it was only luck that it wasn’t his bone that shattered on impact.

    I don’t really want to get into this whole Arsenal/injury debate but I will say briefly my opinion on it – as much as you can blame the tackles I think a major part of it is the conditioning and strength of the players. Wenger is responsible for the personal development plans of his players and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of the injuries are usually muscle related and that there is a question mark about most players physical capabilities.

    When you look back at Wenger’s better teams, most of the players he signed were already athletic men, since he’s built a team there has been far less of that. I’m not blaming that solely for the horror injuries – but look at it squarely, 6’5 Shawcross built like a brick sh*thouse going into slightly framed, almost half a foot shorter Ramsey. It’s a 50/50 challenge but is it really?

    The other thing is a bad tackle is a bad tackle – an injury to the recipient doesn’t change how bad a tackle it was, that is just fortune. As much as I say Shawcross doesn’t seem malicious and the Ramsey incident was 50/50; I can also say Paul Scholes is extremely lucky that some of his frankly awful tackles have not caused serious harm.

    Back to the media thing – I wasn’t exactly using the Wenger comments as a stick to beat him with, because Ferguson isn’t exactly a stranger when it comes to trying to manipulate things as far as he can with pre-match wind ups.

    It was merely interesting and loosely topical to see how one manager influences the tackling pattern of an opposing team and how the media at the same time almost wishes injury on the countries most talented player.

    Having had to sit through football shows and read articles lamenting an injury that hadn’t even happened, it made me feel thoroughly ashamed to be British when I saw the media reaction to it this morning. I was a little surprised they didn’t resort to pulling out Uri Geller with a witchcraft doll of Rooney with pins in his ankle.

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