I'm writing this now because if I don't I might spend the next four hours trolling journalists on Twitter. You know, the kind of pond life who accept jobs with hateful shitrags like The S*n and The Mail and then begin pontificating about how everyone else should behave. I know, I shouldn't follow anyone who writes for either of these turgid turd tray liners but there is something to be said for knowing your enemy.
This week Daily Mail writer and sanctimonious arsehead Matt Lawton has been getting his funk on over suggestions that Wayne Rooney had a few too many in England's hotel during the recent international break. Rooney was given the night off following England's win over Scotland on Friday and, having been told he would not be starting the meaningless cash cow meeting with Spain a few days later, decided to stay up way later than Lawton's bedtime so he could crash a wedding and, you know, mix with real people. In an age when berks like Lawton constantly lament the disconnect between millionaire footballers and the man on the street, here he is telling anyone who will listen how appalling it is to see a grown man having a drink on his night off.
To go to the trouble of writing a back page story on this is beyond hysteria. Quite frankly, nobody gives a shit and nor should they. That Lawton does speaks to his desperation to get his dirty little rag noticed, and is evidence of a long held agenda against Rooney by the British tabloid press. They refuse to forgive him for the heinous crime of being very, very, very good without ever being as good as....say....Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. The failure of both Jose Mourinho and Gareth Southgate to remove Rooney from their team selections and thus the limelight irks the scribes even more. They won't rest until he is removed from the top level football landscape once and for all, so they can set about the real business of building up and knocking down the next big thing in English football.
The truth is that no matter how much Rooney drank, or whether Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana went to a strip club, there are roughly around 2681 more pertinent reasons why the England team doesn't do as well as we would like. Unrealistic expectations placed upon them by a hypocritical media both on and off the field are a far more troublesome problem. That Rooney was gently persuaded to apologise by the FA is an embarrassment which smacks of the governing body trying to divert attention from their own failings. Until we stop overpaying and overhyping our footballers we are probably never going to see them truly fulfil their potential. As such we should not shit our pants if a group of millionaires indulge in some hedonistic behaviour three days before a pointless friendly which Lawton and company agree and never tire of telling us is pointless in any case. If I earned what Rooney does in a week I should think I'd be dead by the middle of next week and I suspect that Lawton would too. That they can motivate themselves to continue at all instead of just sitting at home rolling around in their piles of cash is still a source of wonder for me.
To rugby league now and the news today that Cuba Gooding Junior impersonator Chris Sandow has left Warrington Wolves with a year remaining on his contract. Sandow didn't even have the decency to break the news to the club himself, instead getting his agent to do it by text. That's the sporting equivalent of me getting my mum to ring the office tomorrow morning to tell my manager that I'm off sick. It's juvenile, irresponsible and almost certainly breaches his contract. Now, we like to pretend in rugby league that our players are of greater moral fibre than those football types. So this is a real kick in the dick for the game really, however amusing it is to contemplate Warrington losing their best player. They gave Sandow a chance to rebuild his career when NRL clubs were running in the other direction from his barm-pot behaviour. And this is how he repays them. With a text from his agent saying 'so long'.
And yet it's a cautionary tale. Warrington might well have known that in today's climate the top Australian stars don't come to Super League unless the clubs in their homeland are so tired of their bullshit that they won't risk offering them a deal. Such players are using Super League as a shop window to prove to NRL suitors that they can still cut the yellow stuff and that they've had time away to rethink their lives. I've changed. Take me back, please. Hull FC's Frank Pritchard and Catalans Dragons' Dave Taylor are further examples of this trend having left their respective Super League clubs after just one season. Super League is fast becoming an NRL trial in all but name.
Not that any of this will stop a large portion of Super League fans from demanding that their club break the bank to land themselves a current Australian or Kiwi international star. One of the most common complaints among fans on the forums is that the top English clubs lack the ambition to sign the calibre of player who would routinely find his way over here in days gone by. None of us will ever live another day without seeing someone on social media demand that Saints re-sign James Graham. All of which ignores the restraints of the salary cap especially in relation to the rather larger cap which governs NRL clubs' spending. Any player who is good enough (including Graham) is going to choose the NRL over Super League, not only for the money but also for the higher standard of the competition. The number of current English internationals plying their trade in Australia is proof of that. We in Super League get what's left, which is why the only players of world class ability who arrive here are those like Sandow who come with baggage and leave at the first whiff of a better offer from back home.
If we're not going to raise the cap to compete with the NRL (and we're not because to do so would likely bring about the return of a predictable, four-team league in which one-sided blow-outs are the norm) then we need to switch our focus to the development of junior talent in the UK. Results in the recent Four Nations tournament seem to heighten this need even further if England are to be genuine contenders in the World Cups in Australia in 2017, at home in 2021 and in the brave new world of the recently announced 2025 event in North America.