Wayne Rooney's Bite Is Part of His Brilliance

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Wayne Rooney's Bite Is Part of His Brilliance
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The brilliance and beauty of Wayne Rooney's football sometimes comes with a bite.

It was there in Gelsenkirchen in 2006, when his stamp on Ricardo Carvalho cost England a man and ultimately their place at the World Cup. 

It was there again in a European Championship qualifier in Montenegro when a kick aimed at Miodrag Dzudovic earned the Manchester United striker a ban for the first two games of Euro 2012.

And it was on show again on Sunday, eight minutes into United's 2-2 draw with Cardiff. The incident in South Wales was almost identical to that in Podgorica in 2011, but swap in Jordon Mutch for Dzudovic.

It's a worrying pattern for United and England, but it's not a problem that's easily solved.

It's easy to sit on the sidelines and tell Rooney that he shouldn't do it, that at his age he should know better, but you wouldn't be telling him anything he doesn't know already. 

He doesn't go out to kick people and get himself sent off. And he better than anyone knows the consequences when the red mist does descend. He's missed out on games at major tournamentsas harsh a punishment as there is for professional footballers.

Rooney relays on his edge. He's at his best when he plays without thinking, an instinctive pass or first-time finish. Sometimes, though, that can spill over. 

Caught up in the heat of the moment, he wasn't thinking when he stamped on Carvalho or kicked Dzudovic and Mutch. He will have regretted all of his indiscretions almost immediately, but by then it's too late. The referee is already reaching for his pocket.

Rooney's occasional lapses are indefensible. They don't help him or the teams he plays for. However, to try and remove them from his game is to remove part of what makes him great. It's the flaw in his footballing genius.

Eric Cantona was never the same player after he received a ban for aiming a kung-fu kick at a Crystal Palace fan at Selhurst Park. The edge and the bite had been curbed and so had part of his talent.

It would, of course, be a shame if Rooney's disciplinary problems and suspensions prevented him from playing in the biggest gamesespecially with a World Cup on the horizon—but it would be just as disappointing if he turned up in Brazil next summer as a tame beast, a shadow of his former self. 

The bite is a part of his brilliance.

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