It was not the swearing that appalled. It was the total absence of joy, of fun, of love for the game or its fantastic rewards that was so offensive about Wayne Rooney’s goal celebration on Saturday.
There was no sense of pleasure, no evidence of the thrill all footballers say they get when the ball strikes its target. Instead, Rooney was angry. He always seems to be angry. Everybody seems to be angry these days.
Football is locked in a cycle of violence, emotional if not physical, in which the majority of those in the stadium appear hugely dissatisfied at being there, as if they have been forced on to the pitch or into their seat at gunpoint.
Alan Shearer hasn’t covered himself in glory, either, consistently asking that we all move on as Rooney “has apologised.” Apologies mean nothing these days though, and anyway, surely Shearer should have stressed that “the Manchester United press office have drafted and issued an apology on Rooney’s behalf, so can we all move on?” Bah.
Meanwhile, another emotional man gets some good press. Mark Hughes talks up Clint “Driving Force” Dempsey:
I say to all my players that every game they go in to they must have an impact on the game and be positive and that is what Clint is in every game he plays,” said Hughes. “He’s a very determined, single-minded character and his ability to get the best out of himself is there for everyone to see.
“He’s a guy that drives himself and as a consequence drives other people – he wants to win, you can see that from his attitude and he’s a great influence.”
I remember a couple of years ago I heard on the grapevine that the player all the young players in the club looked up to most wasn’t any of the usual suspects, but Clint Dempsey. This was a bit of a surprise at the time, but it seems he’s a good influence all over the place. Nice to have a manager actively embracing Clint’s peculiar mix of skills and personality; it’s Dempsey’s best season (and the others have been good), and for that we must be thankful (the talk on FOF about Baird being player of the year instead is frankly daft).