For anyone who enjoys English football and is on twitter you will have seen that Wayne Rooney is the latest EPL superstar to enter the world of social networking. It has been splashed all over the papers and will make journalists life a lot easier when it comes to getting snippets for quotes.
Much has been made of the speed in which he has built a substantial following (it’s all about the numbers right?!) with it being splashed all over the tabloids since he started on 24th April. Just for the record he gained 100,000 in one day, over 170,000 be the end of the weekend is now on 460,000 taking him into third behind Rio Ferdinand and Cesc Fabregas.
But there is more to this than just numbers and that he is on twitter. To get the full story you have to rewind to October 2010 and an announcement that sent shockwaves through Old Trafford. This was the moment when it was announced that Wayne Rooney wanted to leave Manchester United with arch city rival Manchester City being touted as his next destination.
With this one announcement he became a hate figure to supporters from around the world. No matter how great a player he has been, though he had been having a shocker since April with injury and loss of form, this was a smack in the face to every United fan.
Then in an equally amazing U-turn a couple of days later it came out he had signed a new 5 year contract at the club and was now vowed to win back the trust of United fans. To many this was seen as a play by Rooney and his management to get more money out of the club and force United’s hand when it came to contract negotiations. He said;
“I’m sure the fans over the last week have felt let down by what they’ve read and seen,” Rooney said. “The fans have been upset but my message to them is that I care for the club. I just want it to continue to be successful. My position [not signing a new contract] was always from concern over the future.
“Some fans may not take to me again very quickly. It may take time. But I will give everything. I will give 100% and try to build that relationship back. The fans have been brilliant with me since I arrived and it’s up to me through my performances to win them over again.”
Fast forward to the present day…. Rooney has come back into form at the right time and United have all but sealed their 19th Premier league title after beating nearest rivals Chelsea 2-1. Rooney has become a fans hero again and part of that has come this opening up of what happens away from the pitch with this global star.
Many people were expecting him to confirm the preconceptions that most held with his tweets. But he has come across well with a dry sense of humour, exchanging banter with Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville and Michael Owen. Yes his spelling may not be perfect but whose is on twitter?
From a figure of hate 6 months ago to an Old Trafford legend, Wayne Rooney is rising from the ashes both on and off the pitch. There is no doubt that Twitter has helped open him up directly to the fans and he is sticking around even when people are abusing him, his wife or son (something that his team mate Darren Gibson couldn’t take, famously lasting 4 hours on twitter before pulling the plug.)
It is not just about altering his image amongst the fans, what about the sponsors. The player has long been dogged by controversy and thus his appeal amongst those who can top up his weekly wage is not as high as it could be. If he can successfully use this new medium to him then his value can only go up. This is where numbers do become important to a degree – a large digital following is becoming more and more important for sponsors whilst athletes are at their peak as well as for a career after those days have come to a close .
It is early days in Rooney twitter career but if he learns from his teammate Rio then he has a very good chance of being a success. Equally there could be a big fall around the corner but I hope not. What are your impressions of Wayne Rooney and other footballers on twitter?
Some Premier League Footballers to follow:
Wayne Rooney (@waynerooney)
Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5)
Cesc Fabregas (@cesc4official)
Antonio Valencia (@antov25)
Phil Neville (@fizzer18)
Asamoah Gyan (@asamoah_gyan)
Wojciech Szczesny (@53Szczesny53)
Jack Wilshere (@jack_wilshere)
Jamie O’Hara (@mrjamieohara)
Robin van Persie (@persie_official)
Glen Johnson (@glen_johnson)
Gary Neville (@GNev2) ….ok he has retired but still worth a follow
Kevin Davies (@kevindaviesbwfc)