The only thing that impresses Zlatan Ibrahimovic less than when reporters ask if he’s gay is Wayne Rooney’s defense. While Zlatan has improved with age like a fine wine, Rooney is becoming less useful each time the sun sets.
I’d liken Rooney to that horse, Boxer, from Animal Farm. A tremendous, productive asset it his prime, but ultimately destined for the glue factory. Also, this:
You know that sports cliche “he’s got an extra gear” that announcers love to use when somebody runs past another player who’s going full speed? It’s like Rooney is missing a gear. Some players are paddle shifting, kicking it into fifth gear and gassing past their opponents. Rooney is stuck in second gear, driving on the shoulder. He should have his fucking fourways on.
Wayne’s defense is reminiscent of that time Yaya Toure tried to play an entire game without having both feet off the ground at the same time.
Maybe it’s the hair plugs. It’s like a movie where the villain covets a powerful artifact that ultimately destroys them. Usually it’s a ring, amulet, or imaginary element like Kryptonite. For Rooney, it was hair.
Remember this guy, the balding brawler who tore up the Premier League?
No, he wasn’t a looker. But we didn’t care. We liked the way he played. Then he went Hollywood on us. He struck a deal with the devil: he got his hair back, but it would sap a little bit of talent out of those magical boots each day. And here we are, years later, watching the ghost of a once-great player being reduced to a wispy poltergeist week by week.
You expect a decline in productivity as a player ages. But Rooney is 30, not 40. Cristiano Ronaldo is 31 and better than ever. Zlatan is 34 and scoring like he’s 24. It must be maddening for Ibrahimovic, who’s out there busting his ass and scoring goals, to see Rooney ambling around the field, expending as about as much energy as a hibernating bear.
It’s clear to me there’s only one way to stop Rooney’s decline, and that’s to shave his head and rub cheetah blood all over it. That’ll conjure the Rooney of yesteryear; young Rooney with an extra gear.