Date: 19th October 2007 at 2:25pm
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These were mixed days on international duty for Wayne Rooney: he scored two goals but was labelled a dirty player and conceded a penalty against Russia.

Of course our golden boy lost little sleep over Piiroja’s comments that he’s a dirty player, he was too happy with his first competitive goal for England in three years’ time.

I was over the moon when he hit the back of the net against Russia in such spectacular fashion as that was a really good and important goal, unlike that fluke against Estonia.

An hour later and I was worried. Rooney’s rash foul should of never resulted in a penalty as it was clearly outside the box but Medina Cantalejo, most pompous of a nation of pompous referees gave it and Russia duly went on to win the all-important qualifier.

What would Wayne give to turn the time back and not commit that unnecessary foul? Were he another person I’d be sure it destroyed his confidence and will struggle to find himself in the next few weeks.

Fortunately, we’re talking about Wayne Rooney and it seems to me that ‘what would have been’ is not a question he usually asks from himself in these situations. He’s a guy who always looks forward and won’t be inhibited my this mistake.

I was dead certain that some less intelligent supporters would make a scapegoat from Rooney who in fact played very well but that’s far from the case, fortunately. Though facing such type of criticism can benefit a player, as the example of our very own Cristiano Ronaldo clearly shows.

Rooney will come through this quite easily, that’s sure. But I’m equally certain that he’ll be desperate to put this mistake behind himself and that’s why I’d be worried if I were a Villa fan. It’s common knowledge that it’s bad to face United after disappointing defeats: just ask Roma who should have withstood the storm of the magnificent Red Army just days after an apparently crucial defeat at Portsmouth. They failed to survive that onslaught and I think Rooney’s attitude is the carbon copy of the team’s.

His mistake will spur him on, and his goal will give him confidence to tear teams apart. The Old Trafford faithful apart, Rooney is often considered by fans as someone who has not fulfilled his potential. That, of course, comes from that hopeless ignorance that many have who tend to judge players only on the basis of their England performance. We know that Roo is actually flourishing at club level and I hope that the joy of the goal and the disappointment of the mistake, both against Russia, will create a right mixture of motivation to show us what he can do. And unfortunately for Aston Villa, they are in our way, with our magnificent record at Villa Park…

It’s possible that I will have to eat my words but at this moment I feel very confident about tomorrow’s game, not least because of what happened in Moscow…