Wayne Rooney has defended himself from criticism by Roberto Mancini following Sunday's Manchester derby, in which the United striker scored two goals but appeared to play a role in City's captain being sent off.
The father of Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney has been arrested and bailed by Merseyside Police over an inquiry into suspicious betting patterns concerning a Scottish Premier League match last year.
Do statistics reflect truths hidden to everyday observation, or are they the great betrayers? To most, Wayne Rooney last season reached new peaks. He won the players' and the football writers' player of the year awards and scored 26 Premier League goals, 10 more than his next best season (2005-06). Then he was injured in the Champions League quarterfinal against Bayern Munich in March, United went out of that competition, its title challenge faltered and Rooney's form was destroyed for the best part of a year.
Two weeks after I graduated from college, I moved to New York and took a fact-checking job at Sports Illustrated, providing just enough money for an empty apartment and a nightly repast of Ray's pizza and Coors Light, which I always ingested alone, supine in front of the TV, whose faces never judged me.
Wayne Rooney didn't score on Saturday. He did help set up three of Manchester United's five goals against Birmingham City and generally looked as though he may at last be approaching his best, but he didn't net himself. So a sub-plot in most of the reviews of the game was the fact that Rooney failed to score, and that he has managed just one goal from open play for his club since March. He is in a "goal-drought," and no matter what he does between now and scoring half a dozen goals, that will always be the first thing that is mentioned about him after games.
It's not hard to pinpoint where it all started to go wrong. On March 30, Wayne Rooney put Manchester United ahead in the second minute of a Champions League quarterfinal match at Bayern Munich, a controlled, eminently accomplished finish from a Nani cross. It was exactly what everybody had come to expect from a player who had already scored 33 goals for his club that season and nine more for England.
Manchester United was forlorn by the end of its last visit (in February) to Goodison Park, a 3-1 home victory in which Wayne Rooney's imperious form vanished under the attentive shadow of Everton's back line. It wasn't the first time Rooney had failed to assert himself in a match against his old club, but at least the abuse he'd received from the home supporters seemed to be dissipating ... a trend that's unlikely to continue if he takes the field Saturday.
Not that Sir Alex Ferguson is convinced; he clearly fancies Rooney to net the away goal that would take some nerves out of the return encounter at Old Trafford. "He's had an unbelievable season," he said -- and the United boss is also smiling about having Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand back in the center of his back line: "Strong in the back and strong as a team, and we look very strong now."
On the streets of Manchester, England, they now talk of Wayne Rooney as being the White Pelé. Well, those in red shirts make those premature comparisons; those in blue still draw less kind comparisons between the Manchester United striker and Shrek.
Deadly, lethal, prolific -- just a few adjectives often used to describe Team Limey's nightclub performances on a Saturday night. Back in the real world, these are apt descriptions of the elite goal-scorers discussed in this week's column. More specifically, we're looking at who we think will be donning the Golden Boot as the English Premier League's top scorer this season.