History repeating?

So, it appears that there's some trepidation concerning how the England fans will react to Rooney's red card which - it's believed the fans will think - cost us the game. Several team-mates have already come out in support of the Manchester United striker and outgoing manager Sven-Goran Eriksson faced the press and said "Pay attention, please", before stating "he is the golden boy of English football. Don't kill him, because you will need him."

Now, nobody thinks Rooney is facing death over this, but precedent suggests that he may die a million symbolic deaths over the next few months.

During England's ghastly exit from France '98 against Argentina, captain David Beckham was red carded for kicking an Argentinean player after a foul. His return home was less than welcomed. He was booed on his home field, burned and hanged in effigy, vilified by the press, and even received death threats.

Ultimately, though, this is a different story. Beckham was sent off for what most fans perceived as a pathetic breach of the rules. Rooney stomped on an opponent's genitals. Beckham went off whilst laying on the ground. Rooney was on his feet, fighting for the ball with all the skill and tenacity we expect from him.

Let's face it: Beckham's a big girl's blouse. Rooney's a striker on the England football team. Beckham's a pretty boy. Rooney would slot right into the '66 line-up and nobody would think him out of place.

And Rooney got sent off for doing exactly what he's paid to do.

No, I believe that the bulk of the reaction will be squarely behind Rooney.

Sure, some will bitch and moan. Some always do, and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

But most, like those that gathered to welcome our boys home, will not forgive because there is nothing to forgive.

Wayne Rooney is an England striker in the classic mold, tough, tenacious, hard-hitting and strong.

If only the media could stop stirring things for a few minutes...

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