Rooney, Owen and the English distrust of success

There is something in the English psyche that seems to dislike success and actively wish for successful people to fall.

Perhaps it is jealousy, perhaps it is our innate love of equality or maybe we believe all successful people to have an inherent character flaw as that is the only way they can be more successful than us.

Whatever, enough psycho-analysing, let us bring in the football element to this. Two stories this week that exemplify this negative behaviour trait involve two one-time saviours of English football.

The first was the ongoing story regarding Michael Owen and his inability to find himself a new club following his release by Manchester United.

Many people (myself included) felt that his hunger for the game had gone as he chose not to join a ‘smaller’ club and didn’t sign for the two ‘big European clubs’ he said had been in to sign him before the window closed

The common consensus was that Owen had more interest in his horse racing stable now than his football and this was deemed to be a bad thing as Owen was doing a disservice to football; the sport that made him.

Clearly, after signing for Stoke, his commitment is still there but even if he did want to concentrate on his horse racing, why is that a problem?

Here is a man who does very well for himself outside of football and secured an outside interest; something that footballers often fail to do and occasionally with tragic consequences.

Perhaps it was an underlying resentment of Owen’s success in two separate fields; football and horse racing that led to the anger directed at him before he eventually signed for the Potters yesterday.

The other example is that of Wayne Rooney who has seen himself fall behind Robin Van Persie in the pecking order of strikers at Manchester United, ruled out for a month with injury, go public with his weight problems resulting from his lifestyle in the off-season and United being linked with further strikers this week.

Ultimately, Rooney has had an outstanding ten years at the highest level of football and deserves both a break from football and the opportunity to live a ‘normal’ lifestyle in his downtime during the summer.

This is a man who has spoken of the shape his body is in after 10 years of rough and tumble, playing through injury on painkilers and being, in his words, unable to walk for the first 30 minutes of each morning after a matchday.

If, in all of this, he has lost the hunger (metaphorical rather than physical), that is his business and not ours, no matter how much we want to bellyache about it and cite Olympic examples of contrast from our high horse.

Should United want to sell him, clubs will queue around Old Trafford to snap him up, regardless of whether his commitment is on the wane or his physical condition isn’t at its best; his talents remain.

Although, for all my talk of inbuilt English distrust of success, perhaps the opposite is true with regard to Owen and Rooney; they’re so skilled and have so much talent, the anger is at the fact they possibly haven’t made enough of their incredible abilities.

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