Wayne’s world: petulant, selfish and arrogant
Neil Clark: To pull this stunt in a week when half a million people face losing their jobs is obscene
The 1992 film Wayne's World featured a heavy metal enthusiast who broadcasts shows from the basement of his parent's house. The 2010 version is not so endearing. It features an arrogant, loutish and overpaid footballer who threatens to leave the club which has made him into a world star - until they agree to sign him up to a new, improved five-year contract.
Wayne Rooney's behaviour this past week would have been disgusting at the best of times, but coming in a week when half a million Britons face losing their jobs, as the government announces the biggest cuts in public spending since the Second World War, it is positively obscene.
We must all tighten our belts, we are told by Chancellor Osborne, and learn to live within our means. But for Wayne Rooney, £90,000 a week - a sum the average Briton takes around four years to earn - is insufficient.
And how does he have the temerity to pull a stunt like this when his own play has been so clearly below-par of late?
In his statement released on Wednesday, explaining why he was leaving the club, Rooney effectively said that the current Manchester United team was not good enough for him.
That's right - United are not good enough for a player who has scored only one goal in open play since April and who was a total embarrassment when playing for England in this summer's World Cup.
A large part of the reason why Manchester United are not hitting the heights this season is Rooney's own poor form: the man is a shadow of the player who once terrified opposing defences with his power and skill.
But self-criticism has never been our Wayne's strong point.
Think back to South Africa when England were booed off the field after being held to an abject 0-0 draw by Algeria. Instead of issuing a mea culpa for his poor performance and apologising to fans who had paid thousands of pounds to support the team, Rooney turned aggressively to the TV camera and said: "Nice to see your home fans boo you - that's loyal supporters." The comment was angrily received by England fans and Rooney was forced into making an apology.
This time, he may not be so lucky.
For far too long football supporters have indulged the petulant multi-millionaire stars who take them for granted. It's time they got angrier. Not by turning up to players' homes wearing balaclavas, as occurred on Thursday night outside Rooney's Cheshire mansion, but by refusing to pay the exorbitant season ticket prices which subsidise footballers' outrageous earnings, or withdrawing their subscriptions to satellite TV stations which broadcast Premier League games.
Of course, Rooney is a product of a crass, money-obsessed and ultra-competitive society, one in which we are encouraged to do all we can to increase our "market value".
Every society gets the footballers it deserves: the far less commercial 1950s produced footballers such as 'Gentleman' Jimmy Dickinson, Jackie Milburn and Tom Finney - mild-mannered, modest and fundamentally decent 'one club' men for whom playing the game was far more important than material rewards. In the dumbed-down, turbo-capitalist Britain of the early 21st century we get Wayne Rooney.
But even allowing for this drop in standards, Rooney's behaviour has been remarkably selfish. I hope he pays for it. ·