Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Sport: Roger Alton

Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Sport: Roger Alton

Article excerpt

As the final chords of the Wagnerian epic that is 'The Dropping of Wayne Rooney' fade away, we can leave the auditorium to reflect on the momentous events we have just witnessed. Really, what a lot of fuss! Pages in the papers, endless phone-ins and enough online hot air to blow up a container-full of -Samsungs. But I suppose Rooney took it with grace and courage, insisting on facing the media alongside Gareth Southgate, the man who fired him, and saying he would always be available. Not walking off in a huff like other, more dislikeable players. Not mentioning any names, John Terry. He is a fine man, Rooney; not inarticulate, often amusing and a fine representative of what can on occasion really be the beautiful game.

Though there has been little sign of that in the two recent World Cup qualifiers. Really. what a lot of dross. England should have lost to Slovenia, saved only by a man who has been ditched by his club, Joe Hart. Will this change in a world without Rooney? Answers on a postcard please.

And this demotion had to happen. Rooney is getting on. He is slowing up a bit; full of ability still, but all around him the game is getting faster. England are brilliant at qualifying for major tournaments but hopeless at going further. A new long-term captain is needed and my money would be on John Stones, like Rooney a former Evertonian, now holding up the Man City defence. He is only 22 but shows great maturity on and off the field.

Offstage, a huge hand for Coleen Rooney, who took to Twitter to stand by her man. 'Love the way anyone and everyone has to have an opinion,' she said. 'Some forget -others have feelings too... we're not -plastic, he's not plastic, we're people.' Don't mess with the wives. Ever.

Why do sportsmen try to convince us they are not pleasant? Gareth Southgate said he might look like an estate agent but he's not that nice a guy. -Really? …

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