Rooney’s Big Gamble

Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c)

So John Rooney got that move of a lifetime. He might get a sudden, inexplicable urge to find a new agent soon, too.

Guiseley earned plenty of respect when they came to The Racecourse a fortnight ago; they look like an organised side which will pull away from the bottom four. Still, going there feels like a retrograde step. I hope Rooney’s agent has thought through the implications of committing to a side in a relegation scrap. Ending up in the National League North would hardly be career progression for the Player of the Month in the division above. It’s also no way to catch the eye of a bigger club.

Neither, rather oddly, is playing at a club with low stands. I’m not being facetious: if Rooney hopes to attract a big move, media coverage is important, and a low camera angle just doesn’t do you justice.

Rooney ought to know this better than most: his profile was boosted when magnificent free kick against Guiseley went viral. It’s currently the third most viewed clip on Wrexham’s YouTube channel, having also gained massive traction on BT Sport’s social media feeds.

His name also helps to grab the attention too: I can’t deny that I deliberately omitted his first name when uploading the goal in the hope that stray Manchester United fans might take a look!

Clearly BT Sport decided to promote it, to some extent, because of his surname. After all, Ntumba Massanka arguably scored a better goal in the first half of the same game and we sent that footage to BT Sport too, but they showed no interest in it.

Obviously, the video didn’t seal his move to Guiseley. However, going viral can remind people that you’re out there. There are numerous tales of managers being taken in by well edited videos proffered by agents, and surely one of last season’s high profile departures was hurried along by another video the club uploaded.

Dom Vose’s phenomenal goal against Gateshead currently has over half a million views. Again, the title helped – calling it our greatest goal in 151 years certainly didn’t hurt! By mid-season he was gone, Scunthorpe having taken him up two divisions.

I had immediate reservations. Vose was terrifically gifted but essentially ornamental when we didn’t have the ball. Basic scouting would tell you this, but his subsequent career at Scunthorpe suggests they limited their research to drooling over Vose’s sumptuous YouTube back catalogue: since his move a year ago he has managed 14 minutes on the pitch for The Iron and been loaned out for the season.

Guiseley’s camera position is low from necessity, and situated a fair distance from the half way line. The footage of Paul Rutherford’s winner there at the start of the season looked decent because he happened to be close to the gantry when he hit it. Anywhere else on the pitch and it wouldn’t have looked so special on screen.

Guiseley is a cracking club, and I hope Rooney helps to steer them clear of danger. But he has moved from a club whose media team are able to offer him exposure to one which has had four attendances in excess of a thousand all season, just at the point in his career when he ought to be looking to capitalise on being in his prime. I hope his agent knows what he’s doing.

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