The Way It Is
by Wayne Rooney
Harper Collins, £8.99
Reviewed by Mark O’Brien
From WSC 246 August 2007 

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“Coleen bought me an Aston Martin from her own money. It was a birthday present that she gave me before the big day. On my actually birthday she gave me a Jacob watch, inscribed with my name and date of birth. I love watches.” And so on, and so forth. Who on earth is this actually aimed at? It’s not an autobiography; it is a prospectus for Paul Stretford’s Proactive Sports Management Ltd. It’s also an insult to the intelligence of the reader, although quite frankly anyone who buys it after seeing Rooney posing on the cover wearing a Coca-Cola T-shirt – he has a contract with them – probably hasn’t got that much grey matter to offend.

The book ostensibly traces Rooney’s career to date, from boyhood scamp at Everton through to what he is now: an England player and cash-cow marketing vehicle. Along the way it touches lightly on the many controversial incidents that have befallen the Manchester United striker in his short career, and tries ever so hard to place the Proactive-approved, positive spin on them.

For instance, the tensions between Rooney and David Moyes? The Everton manager was jealous of the attention that the youngster was getting and was put out that he wasn’t invited to his 18th birthday party. And while Rooney has a poor memory concerning certain matters – such as who actually introduced him to the bookmaker with whom he ran up a debt of over 50 grand, or the details of the contract dispute that saw Stretford dragged to court – he can recall every single negative thing about his time at Goodison. It’s really no surprise that Moyes is taking legal action.

The incident with the grannies in the brothel is skimmed over – it’s something that all young lads do, apparently – although he manages to get in another apology to the ubiquitous Coleen. Surely the ghost-writer, Hunter Davies, could have suggested if people want to read about her dress sense or that she was in the school production of Bugsy Malone they can go and buy her book. She has written one, apparently. It must be fascinating.

Who would have thought that, 35 years after he wrote The Glory Game, Hunter Davies would be trying to pass off the following as the words of a 21-year-old footballer: “That is why we have a publicist. We need to monitor dialogue with the papers and we need someone who can speak to them when stories are wrong or misrepresented.” There really is little else. All the moderately juicy bits that Proactive have allowed, like the fact that he likes to sleep with the hoover or the hairdryer on, have all been serialised to death already.

The only thing that surprises with this sort of wretched tome is that the people handling the players do not use the opportunity to at least try to make them seem somewhat likeable and, well, normal. Rooney used to seem more normal than most but, droning on here about his cars, his holidays and his property portfolio, he looks like just another unashamedly crass gobshite who happens to be lucky that he’s good at kicking a ball around a field.

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