The Rooney problem

Harry Pearson has a wonderfully surreal column about Wayne Rooney. Sample:

These days the top players do not even do their own Little Britain impressions, and they leave the cutting off of the centre-back’s flashy ties to one of their people. This is not because they are lazy. It is because they are focused. The modern player is a specialist. He has little time for anything other than honing the key skills of his profession: shooting, shouting and looking sultry in styling mousse. Nothing distracts him from his job. He has a ghostwriter to write his autobiography and a ghostreader to tell him what is in it.

Some of the biggest names are now so totally devoted to themselves that they even employ a staff of experts to sleep with women for them. “Clearly the players are red-blooded young men who would like nothing better than to chase skirt,” reveals one insider close to the source of a friend, “but as professional athletes they are worried that a night of vigorous heterosexual activity might mess up their aggression, their stamina, or even their hair.”

Some have gone one-step further. A lot of fans and media people have expressed the view that Rooney is experiencing a lack of form. They are quite wrong. Wayne is in the form of his life. Unfortunately his body double is going through a sticky patch, though admittedly not as sticky as the one Frank Lampard’s body double has been experiencing for the past five months.

Some will find the news that Rooney and Lampard actually have body doubles out on the field something of a surprise. It is hard to see why. It has been common practice in Hollywood for years. You wouldn’t expect Angelina Jolie to do her own stunts, or Mel Gibson to show you his own bottom, now would you? Like any movie star Wayne is an incredibly valuable asset. Neither Manchester United nor England can afford to put what we must learn to call “the core of the Rooney brand” at risk by actually allowing him to run around on a slippery surface with a lot of rough blokes. The insurance premiums if they did would be crippling. His beard alone had to be underwritten for £77m…