Paul Scholes celebrates with Wayne Rooney for Manchester United
The last time Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney lined up together at International level was ten years ago in Lisbon when England were eliminated on penalties by the hosts Portugal. Paul Scholes retired at the age of 29 from the national team, but was soon reunited with Rooney at club level when he was transferred from Everton to Manchester United on transfer deadline day. In that time, the club has won a European Cup and five Premier League titles, whilst Scholes has since retired twice.
Rooney heads to Brazil in what will most definitely be his last World Cup finals having made zero impact on a major international tournament since he burst onto the scene in the summer of 2004. He has been subject of criticism from his former teammate in recent weeks and has publicly dismissed the suggestion that he is past his peak.
Paul Scholes knows Wayne Rooney a lot better than many of his England colleagues and any journalist that has commented on the story, so why did Scholes say the things he did?
Firstly, footballers sometimes don’t get on. That is fact. Teddy Sheringham and Andy Cole never saw eye to eye but were extremely gifted footballers who of course gave their all for Manchester United on the pitch. Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney are no different, although one believes that any animosity between the pair will only have aired following Scholes’ comments on United and England’s top marksman. Below is an extract from Paul Scholes’ autobiography that sums up his feelings towards Wayne Rooney as a football and what type of character he has:
Given the way he speaks out and the strength of character, I can see Wayne as a future Manchester United captain. He has the qualities t o drive a side on, to loft his teammates the vital five per cent extra that might be needed to turn a match if things are going badly. I can see similarities to Roy Keane in his determination, his will to win, his prodigious work rate and his readiness to address issues head on. If Wayne wore the armband with even half as much success and distinction as Roy, then I don’t think United fan would be complaining.
Even if constructed in 2011 following his first retirement from the game, surely his opinion wouldn’t have changed too much as Rooney enters what is indeed traditionally is the ‘peak years’ for a forward. Of course, we know football doesn’t always work that way and Rooney’s spectacular career is coming up to twelve years now. Scholes praise of Rooney and comparison to that of Roy Keanes indicates that he knows what type of character Rooney is an what he responded best to.
In 2012/13, Sir Alex Ferguson accused his once prized asset of being unfit and upset to have been taken off a number of times throughout a title winning campaign. The retiring manager also suggest that Rooney had handed in a transfer request at the end of the season after being cast into the shadows behind Robin van Persie. Many United fans felt that there was no way back for United’s number ten, who had handed in a transfer request and flirted with the idea of joining Manchester City back in 2010/11. He ended up signing a new deal and United went onto lift another Premier League title and reach the final of the Champions League against Barcelona. But this time was different, it appeared many had grown tired of Rooney’s antics and apparent lacklustre performances on the pitch.
New boss David Moyes also angered Rooney by suggesting that the club needed to keep Wayne Rooney, in case anything was to happen to Robin van Persie – indicating that he was indeed backup to the Dutchman. Rooney voiced his dissatisfaction with life at Old Trafford, suggesting he was ‘angered and confused’ and many thought he was on his way to Jose Mourinho and Chelsea. However, there is a school of though that suggests the worst thing you can do for Wayne Rooney and whoever he plays for is to put an arm around him. There are players that need an arm around them and there are players who indeed need to be kept on their toes. From previous encounters, surely Wayne Rooney falls in to the latter category?
His substitute appearance against Swansea City sparked rumours that he was off as he failed to celebrated with his teammates, despite playing well after his introduction, but it was indeed his performance against Chelsea in the 0-0 draw that spoke volumes. It looked as if he had rolled back the years, he had a point to prove to the world having doubted him that his time was up and went on to be the shining light in United’s early season – which of course ended disastrously.
Perhaps Scholes was indeed trying to spark something in Rooney to ensure that he is as pumped up as he can be to deliver on the international scene. Sure, England have been extremely poor at tournaments and you could argue, the last tournament that the national team actually played well in was 1998, when David Beckham was lambasted for kicking out at Diego Simeone.
Roy Keane’s reaction to Sir Alex Ferguson praise of him in that epic 3-2 win of Juventus in Turin wasn’t the words of someone who likes basking in praise. He suggested that Ferguson’s comments were like “praising a postman for delivering letters. Sure, there is no love loss between the two men and of course Keane was trying to make a point, but if Paul Scholes believes Wayne Rooney can emulate his former captain, then perhaps he feels that both of them do revel in trying to take on the doubters.