Wayne Rooney: Genius or Villain?

Although the answer to that question may depend on which side of this weekend’s Manchester United vs. Liverpool game you fall on, let’s take a broader view of the issue.

This was interesting week to be a Rooney.  Things started out looking pretty good, with Wayne being one of the main reasons for Manchester United’s red-hot start to the Premier League season, and with the English National Team on the verge of qualifying for Euro 2012.  But things started to unravel.  Quickly.  First Wayne’s father and uncle were arrested in connection with an investigation into bets made on Scottish Premier League games.  Then Wayne was red-carded in England’s Euro 2012 Qualifier for kicking Montenegro’s Miodrag Dzudovic.  The news later this week that UEFA has given Rooney a 3-game suspension for violent conduct has sparked debate over whether Rooney should even be included on the team for the tournament.

This is not the first time Rooney’s temper has gotten him into trouble on the field; his career seems to be an alternating pattern of brilliance followed by madness.  One minute he is tearing apart defenses and winning games for his team, the next he is flashing back to his days as a boxer and letting his temper rage out of control.  This season is a perfect example.  He has started the Premier League season on fire, helping Manchester United to first place after 7 games.  He leads the league in scoring with 9 goals.  But on the same night he helped England qualify for Euro 2012, he badly dented their hopes of doing well in the tournament.

The 3-game suspension from UEFA means Rooney will have to sit out the entire group stage of Euro 2012, but would be able to play if England reached the knock-out round.  But should Fabio Capello should even include Rooney in the team if he can’t be used until the fourth game of the tournament?  Or would that roster spot be better used by bringing another forward who is actually allowed to play?  There’s not much argument that Rooney is one of England’s best players; what Capello has to decide is whether Rooney is good enough to warrant trying to advance in the tournament using one player less than the other teams.

Whatever Capello’s eventual decision about Euro 2012, one thing you can be sure of is that this week has given the Liverpool faithful some new ammo to hurl at the man they love to hate this Saturday at Anfield.

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