Ian Holloway: If Rooney was German would they still take him? Of course they would

He is going to be one of the best players of all time, never mind his own erar
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The Independent Online

Don't even bother starting a debate about whether Wayne Rooney should go to the European Championship. Of course he should, and Fabio Capello would be barking mad not to take him.

Can you imagine Germany or Spain leaving out their bestplayer? It wouldn't happen. They would back themselves to get through the group and then have the luxury of being able to select their star man – who would be fresh as a daisy, don't forget – for the knockout phase.

Let me get one thing straight, though: this isn't an article totally in praise of Rooney. He was stupid to get sent off. It was an act of petulance, as he would be the first to admit.

But we've been here before. David Beckham did silly things at the start of his career and there isn't an Englishman in the land who has forgotten his red card against Argentina in France '98. Beckham was lambasted after that, warned not to come back in the country by some nutters.

Rooney is not a liability, as I read in one newspaper. I believe, like Beckham a decade ago, he is an exceptionally talented young man still learning. After 30 years in the game I think I'm a good judge, and he is one of the best players I have seen in an England or Manchester United shirt.

The problem is that his status puts him under the sort of pressure few of us can comprehend. I only had one year in the Premier League but I was shocked at the demands placed on me, be it from media commitments or the physical and mental exertion of the matches. It is not easy to cope with and it is hardly surprising that most of us snap at one point or another.

Unfortunately, when Rooney snaps it is front-page news. Even on the pitch – his refuge and escape – he takes some fearsome stick. Opposition players often target him and some of the stuff he has to put up with is horrendous.

In Montenegro he made a mistake. Fair enough, we all do. Those who can't accept that and want him to change should remember that you get nothing without passion and determination and I am sure, like Mr Beckham did, Rooney will manage to control himself, because he is going to be one of the best players of all time, never mind his own era. And there aren't many people you can say that about.

After what happened in France, Beckham turned into Mr Immaculate, and I'm sure Rooney can do the same. His football speaks for itself. I've never seen him look so good as he is at the minute. The rest will follow and the more experience he gets, the more he will learn to curb the other side of his personality.

Take him to the Euro, back ourselves to get through, then unleash him on the opposition because, after watching Spain ease past Scotland the other night, we need someone like Rooney to give us even a sniff of a chance.

The Spanish are outstanding, and any side who can win the Euro and the World Cup back to back must be overwhelming favourites again next summer.

They will always outpass and outplay the opposition, so any team who want to beat them will have to take a leaf out of Jose Mourinho'sbook. He has managed to beat Barcelona – who are Spain in disguise – even when his team haven't had much of the ball.

That's the blueprint for everyone else, because it's the only way to beat Vicente Del Bosque's side.



English can still be champions

The Champions' League returns this week, and for the first time in a while there is a bit of pressure on a couple of the English clubs. They probably haven't started as well as in previous years, but I don't think this means that there is some great sea-change.

Come the sharp end of the competition, expect the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal to be challenging.

The truth is that the English clubs will always be among the strongest in Europe and the world because of BSkyB's money, and it will stay that way as long as the broadcaster remains strong as a company.

Manchester City will be most desperate for a win this week, but anyone surprised that they havefound the Champions' League tough doesn't really know their football.

City might have some of the world's best players but no matter how much money you spend, you very rarely get instant success. When you change a lot of players, as City have, it takes time to blend.

The club also have to get used to the different scenario they are now faced with. Expectation is massive and they are tipped to win every game – pressure they didn't previously have to deal with.

So City must be given time to adjust to that expectation and to going into Europe. The travelling, the amount of fixtures, the different style of football – it is a big ask.

I actually think they've played well in the competition and expect them to improve the more matches they have.

For me the competition is no different from the past few years – either Barcelona, Real Madrid or an English club to win it.

Liverpool in a league of their own when it comes to greed

If we want to destroy the Premier League then we should agree to what Liverpool's managing director wants.

Ian Ayre reckons the big boys should get a bigger share of overseas TV revenues than the other teams in the division. His argument seems to be that the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United are more popular in Asia so they deserve more cash.

This is pure greed, and I hope the other clubs tell him where to go.

I also don't think he is right about certain clubs being more popular. During Blackpool's season in the Premier League we had great viewing figures abroad. They were particularly high in America, where people like the underdog, and I was shown one set of figures which showed more people in the US watched a Blackpool game one weekend than any other match.

The game belongs to everybody, and if a select few are allowed to grab even more money then they are going to move further away from the little people, and that isn't what it is about.

If the gap between top and bottom gets any bigger there would be no point even calling it a league. What I like about our football is that you've got your Ronnie Radfords of this world, who smack one in from 35 yards and keep us all dreaming that the little guy can occasionally smack Goliath in the gob. We've got to keep believing in that.

Haye making right move

David Haye has his head screwed on. How many times have we seen boxers make ill-advised comebacks and end up getting knocked senseless?

Those who are mouthing off, saying Haye should end his career with a better performance than the one he produced against Wladimir Klitschko, are missing the point.

Haye has had a fantastic career, made a load of money and has done what he always said he would, getting out while the going's good.

I'm a boxing fan and don't feel disappointed he is quitting – I feel proud that he has had the brains and the nerve to resist temptation and keep his word. Why take more punishment?



Brush away your worries

I don't want to sound like I'm preaching, but I'd like to recommend to everyone that they find a hobby and spend some time doing it. I got into painting a few weeks ago and it's helped transform my life, relieving the pressure of management and allowing me to spend valuable time with my wife.

She is wonderful to be with because she's not like me at all – unbelievably calm. When I get something wrong on a painting and start getting all frustrated, she reminds me it can easily be painted over or scratched off.

Painting is probably making me a better person and I'd suggest everyone finds a hobby – we get too consumed by work and forget about the important things.

Right, preaching over – I'm off to grab my brushes!

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