Spanish newspaper Marca have aimed a barb at Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney ahead of the titanic encounter between United and Real Madrid tomorrow.
The article on Marca’s website, which also occupied the inside front page of the paper edition, called Rooney a “freckled demon” and a “football player and hooligan all rolled into one.”
“Rooney is a mature player now at 27. His goalscoring has been very consistent over the last few years. He can play different positions with a great enthusiasm. What can I say? The boy is a terrific player and he has great desire. I’m not interested in what a Spanish paper says.” Sir Alex Ferguson
Spain’s most read newspaper also made reference to Rooney’s infamously heavy figure before claiming United’s fourth highest scorer has an ongoing feud with a couple of Real Madrid players.
The article said: “Rooney will run out on to the turf at the Bernabeu and face players who have bones to pick with him. Pepe, Carvalho, Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo may well relive their encounters with the English bad boy.
“In a Portugal vs. England World Cup match in Germany in 2006, he trod on Carvalho and was sent off. Ronaldo ran over to the referee to demand his expulsion, causing a rift between them that lasted a long time.”
While there was a fallout between Ronaldo and Rooney, it should be noted that both players combined perfectly as United marched to a league and European double the following year – hardly a long lasting rift. And the apparent rivalry with Casillas is unlikely to be resumed as the Spanish keeper is ruled out.
The traditionally pro-Madrid newspaper looks to be trying to stoke the fires and intimidate some of United’s players before the hotly anticipated contest, targeting Rooney and hoping for a reaction.
Indeed, there are a number of interesting angles to the match with old adversaries Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson locking horns as opposites once more, and it is also Cristiano Ronaldo’s first match against United since his 2009 move to Madrid.
Marca predict that Real Madrid will line-up with Diego López, Arbeloa, Ramos, Pepe, Coentrao, Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Di María, Özil, Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema. Given the close relationship the media outlet has with the club, it may well be accurate.
While the United line-up is much less clear, the “freckled demon, built like a barrel packed with gunpowder” is more than likely to start. The Rooney of old might have let today’s story get under his skin but the new Rooney has a much calmer head on his shoulders and will only use the story as ammunition.