So, Wayne had promised "the lads" that he would come on and chat with them. Fair enough. He spoke honestly as he could about the recent Champions League final, his rant at a camera, his preference for playing behind the striker and the fact that, a certain Lionel Messi is the best player in the world. It was just an interesting interview with a footballer who loves to play and watch football. Also, fans of tactics should listen for Rooney's insight into the final:
"Messi wins them games but Xavi and Iniesta destroy you. They are simply a fantastic team, a very special side. That's the level we want to be at and we have to up our game to achieve this. The manager will be doing what he can to see we do this. The plan was to try to win the ball from them as high as possible and not allow them time on the ball. We didn't want to allow them to dictate play. I was told to stay as close to Sergio Busquets as possible and break off him when we had the ball. At times they had six in midfield with Messi and David Villa dropping back."
The problem is how comments are reported from players in the national press and on the internet. A positive comment such as "we'll do our best to make up for the final defeat of two years ago" morphs into "we want revenge" on the back of a tabloid. Rooney was openly discussing the merits of Messi; he was very complimentary and realised that the La Liga is different to the English Premier League. However, it is being reported widely that Rooney said "Messi can't do it against Stoke" when what actually took place was a football fan who happens to play at the highest level, discussing the greatness of a player and wondering how the difference in playing style will affect his respective effectiveness.
We all discuss the merits of different footballers in different leagues. Although, I disagree with Rooney in part, it's hard for me to continue without a reader having the full facts before engaging in debate. In my opinion, Lionel Messi would fare excellently against Premier League defences and he suffers some awful challenges in La Liga. When Messi was on the charge for his second of his hat-trick against Zaragoza (in 2010) he had to fight off an opponent and evaded dangerous and desperate lunge. Yet I respected Rooney's right to air his opinion on the matter and listen to his reasoning behind it whether I agreed or not.
Unfortunately I don't think many people do engage with some knowledge of the subject matter which can be part of the problem with football reporting. Often, reports are rolled out in the knowledge that many readers won't check the source to gain greater understanding whether it is out of limited time, lack of interest or investigative laziness. And in the land of the blind, those who have any semblance of vision find themselves on closer to the summit than the rest. I guess only football can stir such passionate responses as: "Shut up Fat Lad!!" and "At least Messi is a gentleman unlike these three! Most fans of the lovely game would rather see Messi play that these foul mouthed idiots." Wonderful.
Here's the live interview:
Here are some of the reports on the interview: