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Wayne Rooney’s isolation: A picture is not always worth a thousand words

Aug 17, 2013, 4:04 PM EDT

The Wayne Rooney saga still hasn't been solved. But Arlo was impressed with his application vs. Swansea. Reuters

There’s a photo making the rounds of social media, showing Wayne Rooney apparently isolated in the center of the pitch at Liberty Stadium, while the rest of his teammates celebrate Robin Van Persie‘s second goal against Swansea. Of course, much is being made of this one snap, captured at exactly the wrong (or right) moment.

The view of Rooney not participating in his side’s joyful celebration is a clear indicator that he’s unhappy at Manchester United and ready to leave the club. It shows that, despite David Moyes insisting that the star is not for sale, he’ll be gone by the end of the transfer window. This split second in time reveals that Robin Van Persie has taken over command of United and Rooney refuses to accept his new role in the side.

At least, that’s what some people are saying. But is there another side to this brief moment of time?

Think about the lead up to Van Persie’s second goal. As the Dutchman raced toward goal, cutting through the Swansea defense, Rooney made a run toward the right, pulling away Swans defenders. This opened up space to allow Van Persie to send in a sharp, left footed strike. Just let yourself imagine, here, that this movement also prompted a tackle on Rooney — one that meant that, as his team gathered around the goalscorer to celebrate, Rooney was just lifting himself up off the pitch.

So the photo very well may have been showing Wayne Rooney’s unhappiness at Manchester United, or his dissatisfaction with David Moyes. There’s certainly more to this saga than has been released to the general public. But perhaps it’s more reasonable to actually put the scene within the context of the match, and to realize that maybe Rooney just hadn’t had the chance to participate in the celebration?

But that sort of rationality doesn’t sell newspapers. It doesn’t get you retweets on Twitter or likes on Facebook. So expect to see further dissemination of this photograph, and its apparent “meaning,” throughout the weekend.


  1. mfmaxpower - Aug 17, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    Anyone who watched that match could plainly see that Rooney wasn’t happy. The photo just captures Rooney’s general attitude and body language, even if his performance was solid.

  2. bman0921 - Aug 18, 2013 at 12:52 AM

    What a great point! Thanks for the insight.

  3. schmutzdeck - Aug 18, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    Good article. I’ve always felt people made too much of “body language” viewed from distance.

    It would be heartwarming and wonderful if Wayne were happy. Presumably he wants to leave for greener pastures where he will be used more in a role he likes.
    I see his options then as :

    Refuse to play until he gets his way. Or give less than his best. Or play his best but be a jerk about it and a locker room cancer. All of these will lessen his transfer value and cost him potential suitors and money.

    Pick his head up and play his very best but behind the scenes let his MU know he wants out.

    Wayne is 27 and likely just past his peak. He has been at it for about 10 years and has a lot of mileage on him. If he wants medals and money his best chance of getting that at this point in his career is at Man U.

    His best move would be to fight his way back into a starting spot with Man U and England and then have a great year and win things. Then maybe the big boys will come for him.
    But right now the big money will go to younger guys. He’s not an A-list investment anymore.

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