World Cup 2014: Wayne Rooney death stare replaced by positive outlook for the Manchester United striker

The striker is in a happy place – but still has a dig at former team-mate Paul Scholes

football correspondent

Wayne Rooney has done dozens of England press conferences over the years, and the truth is that far too many of them have been tense occasions. Times when difficult questions have had to be asked about problems on and off the pitch, and Rooney's halting delivery, combined with the suspicion that he could blow at any minute, have made them awkward occasions.

When he walked into the media centre that adjoins the Urca training ground, there were the usual list of critics to be assessed, with his former team-mate Paul Scholes top of the list. Then there was the weight of history. World Cup finals are where it tends to go wrong for Rooney and he knows better than anyone that his time to change that is running out.

But this was another Rooney, one who was reflective about past failings and eager to seize a chance that he knows may not come again. At no point did he respond to any of the spikey questions with his famous death stare, but that did not mean he was short of a spikey answer or two. Mainly for Scholes, whose suggestion that Rooney is past his best sparked a debate about the England striker.

The line that resonated the most was the one that put the nature of his relationship with Scholes into context. He said that he and Scholes had not spoken since. "He's been a great player at Man United," Rooney said, "but I've never had his phone number and he's never had mine."

As for what Scholes said: "I don't agree with it. Whether it's valid or not, you'll have to ask him." What of Scholes' view that Rooney had peaked three years ago? "I'm sure he's upset a lot of people at Man United because they see me as worthy of signing a new deal at the club, so they obviously have got different opinion to what Paul has. But you'll have to ask him.

"It was a big strange, I'll be honest, but he has his opinions and he's entitled to them. I don't agree with it, but he's probably the best player I've ever played with, so I'm not going to knock him as a player, but I don't agree with his point."

What to make of Rooney's promise to himself that he was going to enjoy this World Cup finals? It makes sense insomuch as whatever he has done in the past has simply not worked therefore he might as well try something different. He was not saying that he had given up caring, just that he was no longer prepared to be bowed down by the weight of expectation.

"The hardest thing about last time was I missed my family, and this time I've learned to deal with that. Of course I miss them, but I've learned how to deal with that. They'll be over here eventually. To be honest, it's good to get a few days' rest."

He said he had worried that he had over-thought things in the past. David Moyes famously told him at the start of last season that he had lost his aggressive edge, which struck a chord with Rooney

"He felt I had lost a bit of aggression from my game – which I was asked to do, by the way," Rooney said. "He said he wanted me to find that aggression back. I thought about it a lot. It wasn't really me [without the aggression]. Maybe there are times when you have to try to lift the crowd with a tackle, obviously not a stupid one, a run back and tackle can lift the fans and even turn a game round.

"Everything gets blown up. Before the sending off against Montenegro [in 2011] my record in terms of discipline and bookings wasn't that bad. Then it was blown up. I was asked to stop doing that. Stupid tackles. Maybe I was trying to do too much."

The last time Rooney spoke on England duty was in the Portugal training camp two weeks previously. He said then that he was prepared to speak to Dr Steve Peters the team psychiatrist.

"I've spoken to him a few times. I'll not say what was said. I think he's a great benefit for the team – if you look at the achievements in his life, it's incredible really. He can only benefit us. I found him great and easy to talk to."

It is early days yet for Rooney in Brazil, and we have been here before with him, but if his mood is anything to go by, the signs look positive.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen