1.It Was Only a Matter of Time: Scientists Found a Way to Reverse Signs of Aging
When old age comes, you’ll know it. In addition to telltale signs like greying hair and wrinkled skin though, age comes coupled with an increased risk of age-related diseases. This is why scientists have been studying how aging, which happens on a cellular level, could be halted or even reversed. The latter is the direction researchers at the Salk Institute want to take.
Their research looks into the possibility of replicating stem cell-like conditions through intermittent expressions of genes usually associated with an embryonic state in order to reverse the signs of aging.
“Our study shows that aging may not have to proceed in one single direction,” says senior author Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Salk Gene Expression Laboratory professor. “It has plasticity and, with careful modulation, aging might be reversed.”
The team’s research is published in the journal Cell.
The researchers prompted cellular rejuvenation through cellular reprogramming that activates the expressions of four genes known as the Yamanaka factors. This process converts cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), — which behave like stem cells, capable of becoming any cell type and can divide indefinitely.
The approach produced promising results: human skin cells in a dish looked and behaved young again, and mice with premature aging disease were rejuvenated with a 30% increase in lifespan.
GETTING IT OUT OF THE LAB
“What we and other stem-cell labs have observed is that when you induce cellular reprogramming, cells look younger,” says Alejandro Ocampo, a research associate and first author of the paper. “The next question was whether we could induce this rejuvenation process in a live animal.”
Of course, iPSCs aren’t necessarily a good thing, especially for adults — after all, non-stop cellular division is a cancer-like behavior and suddenly turning cells young again could result in organ failure.
The team did, however, test the technique on a rare genetic disease called progeria, found in both humans and mice. In the end, they developed a way to induce the Yamanaka factors for a short duration, which was enough to modify the epigenetic marks — which partially drive aging — prematurely dysregulated in progeria.
“[We] now show, for the first time, that by expressing these factors for a short duration you can maintain the cell’s identity while reversing age-associated hallmarks,” said author Pradeep Reddy. The process itself needs to be tested before it can go into actual human trials, and the Salk researchers think it would take about 10 years before it could happen.
- Could Apple be using sapphire glass for a solar-charging iPhone 6 screen?
There’s been a lot of talk about sapphire glass since Apple CEO Tim Cook sat down for an interview with ABC News last week. But aside from confirming that a new manufacturing plant the company purchased in Mesa, Arizona last year will be used to produce sapphire glass, no other details were revealed. Seeking Alpha analyst Matt Margolis has a pretty interesting idea, though: He thinks Apple might be inscribing solar panels within sapphire glass screens for the next iPhone.
When you look at a lot of recent news about the company, this idea actually makes a good deal of sense. For starters, Apple has filed solar patents that will allow the company to power devices through solar cells. The company also hired a thin films engineer to “assist in the development and refinement of thin films technologies applicable to electronic systems.”
Apple then signed a $578 million contract with GT Advanced Technologies, which was just confirmed to be for sapphire glass in the aforementioned ABC News interview. The company also announced plans to spend $10.5 billion in 2014, on new production technology including robots and lasers. The company also posted job listings for manufacturing design engineers, with references to solar cells and lasers in the job description. And it was just reported that Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn recently assembled at least 100 prototype units of the next iPhone with sapphire displays.
Apple’s solar farm next to its data center in Maiden, North Carolina
Apple’s solar farm next to its data center in Maiden, North Carolina
In addition to all of this, Margolis notes that sapphire manufacturer GT has been able to significantly reduce the cost of sapphire glass, from $13-18 to just $3-5 per screen. That makes it a financially viable alternative to Corning’sGorilla Glass, which costs $3 per screen.
Of course, none of this is a sure bet that Apple is actually planning to make a move towards sapphire screens or solar charging, but the pieces of the puzzle do fit together pretty well. The company is no stranger to the benefits of solar energy, with two solar farms and one fuel cell farm near its data center in North Carolina. And solar charging would be a huge step forward for mobile devices, which only consume more and more battery life as they become larger and more powerful. Then again, a solar panel the size of a phone screen wouldn’t generate all that much energy, and I’m not sure Apple would go down this route unless it provided a measurable benefit.
- Drug lets blind eyes ‘see light’
A drug can restore the ability of the eye to sense light after blindness, animal studies show.
Reacting to light is the job of the rods and cones in the retina, but these can be destroyed by disease.
A study, in the journal Neuron, showed a chemical could give “support-duty cells” in the eye the power to respond readily to light.
Experts said it was a fascinating concept which might lead to treatments, but stressed more research was needed.
The eye is built of layers including the rods and cones.
Other layers keep the rods and cones alive, as well as passing on electrical signals produced by the light-sensing cells and passing these on to the brain.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, were focused on a type of nerve cell in the eye – retinal ganglion cells.
They designed a chemical – called Denaq – which changes shape in response to light. The shape-shift alters the chemistry of the cell and results in electrical signals being sent to the brain.
Tests showed that injecting Denaq into the eyes of blind mice restored a degree of vision. There were changes in behaviour, although it is not clear how well the mice could see.
The effects wore off quickly, but mice could still detect light a week later.
One of the researchers, Dr Richard Kramer, said: “Further testing on larger mammals is needed to assess the short and long-term safety of Denaq.
“It will take several more years, but if safety can be established, these compounds might ultimately be useful for restoring light sensitivity to blind humans.
“How close they can come to re-establishing normal vision remains to be seen.”
The different layers of the retina, with the light-sensing rods and cones at the top
It is hoped the drug could eventually help with diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.
The researchers envisage using electronic goggles to beam appropriate intensity light on to the retina to improve the efficiency.
Prof Astrid Limb, from the Institute for Ophthalmology at University College London, told the BBC: “It’s a very interesting concept that you can stimulate the remaining cells.
“However, there is still a lot of work to do before this research can be applied to humans.”
She added the drug’s duration would need to be addressed, asking: “Can you imagine giving an injection every few days?”
The findings add to a range of developments in restoring sight to the blind which also include transplanting stem cells into the back of the eye to restore vision and manipulating DNA to correct genetic defects.
- Ferrari ‘needs’ to be involved in Formula E, says CEO Sergio Marchionne
Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne says the Italian car company “needs to be involved” with all-electric series Formula E in the near future.
Last year the Ferrari boss indicated a willingness to join the Formula E grid “a few years from now”. Unlike Formula One, the series has been successful in attracting manufacturers, with reigning world champions Mercedes reserving a place on the grid for the 2018/19 season.
Marchionne says Ferrari would learn a lot from the series which could be applied to its road car division.
“We need to be involved in Formula E because electrification via hybridisation is going to be part of our future,” Marchionne told FIA publication Auto. “Hybridisation is crucial to Ferrari. There is no denying that regulations put us under pressure, but we could reach those targets in other ways.
“The challenge is to benefit from hybridisation not just in terms of emissions reduction, but also performance. We have already developed a hybrid supercar, La Ferrari, and on future Ferrari models we will leverage new technologies as well as electrification.”
BMW will become a Formula E manufacturer from 2018, while Audi, Renault, Jaguar and Citroen’s DS brand are also involved. Formula E still has a spot on the grid for a 12th team to join with Mercedes in 2018, though Ferrari joining as a manufacturer before 2022 seems unlikely. If it does not join as a fully-fledged manufacturer then, it could enter a partnership with an existing team, most probably under the Fiat brand.
- Straight from the horse’s nose
IN A BID to become the 12th Triple Crown winner, California Chrome will race the Belmont Stakes on June 7 with a small adhesive strip stuck to his nose, just as he’s done for his previous six (winning) races. But is wearing the strip superstition or science?
The answer lies in anatomical peculiarities unique to horses — design quirks that can hinder the process of efficiently delivering massive amounts of oxygen to muscles. “For 6,000 years we’ve bred horses for speed and power,” says David C. Poole, professor of kinesiology and physiology at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. And that, he says, comes at a cost.
Bleeding in the lungs is one of the worst maladies that racehorses face; it stems from a weak spot in the nose that collapses easily during intense activity. Known formally as Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage, or EIPH, lung bleeding is an often-invisible problem that plagues most racehorses, Poole says. And it’s been shown to not only hurt race performance but also delay recovery and potentially cause lung damage.
Nasal strips address this problem directly. The strips attach to a spot just above a horse’s nostrils, using tension in an embedded piece of springy plastic to keep the nose’s weak spot open. The extra airflow translates to big savings in the horse’s effort to suck in air; imagine drinking a milk shake with a fat straw compared with a thin one.
So why, then, aren’t more horses wearing them? Jim Chiapetta, co-inventor of the strip and president of Flair LLC, says it’s simply a matter of education. “People just don’t read the scientific literature,” he says. If they did, they’d find compelling results: Since 2000, seven studies from various independent teams have found that horses wearing nasal strips show many benefits, including less lung bleeding, less airway resistance and less fatigue, and they enjoy a quicker recovery — all crucial factors given Belmont’s 1-and-a-half-mile track.
California Chrome’s owners might be most interested in one of those studies, in particular: A 2007 analysis of nearly 400 thoroughbreds at the Calder Race Course in Florida found that wearing a patch increased the chances of winning by 3.4 percent. And at only $10.50 per strip, that might be a chance worth gambling on.
- Monica Hargrove’s body shot
MONICA HARGROVE burst onto the professional track scene in 2006 with a silver medal in the 4×400-meter relay at the world indoor championships. Since then, she’s been among the nation’s best in the 400. Coming off her victory in the women’s 4×400 relay at the world indoor championships in Sopot, Poland, in March — her first international gold medal — the 31-year-old shows no signs of slowing down. Hargrove began her track career as a high schooler in New Haven, Conn. From there, she moved on to Georgetown and became a three-time All-American, competing in the 200, 400, 500, 4×400, 4×100 sprint medley relay and distance medley relay. Since then, she has been part of a world-record-setting sprint medley relay (2006 Penn Relays) and the winning 4×400 team at the 2009 Penn Relays. As she readies herself to make a run at the Olympic team for 2016, she talked with The Mag about the benefits — and sweet rewards — of all that time on the track and in the gym.
Hargrove says that although she loves track, her biggest motivation is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Dustin Snipes for ESPN
Amy Brachmann: What was your body like growing up?
Monica Hargrove: I’ve always had a pretty muscular build. If there’s such a thing as a track “build” — I’ve pretty much had that body type since age 13.
Brachmann: How did you start running track?
Hargrove: I didn’t start until high school. My coach saw me at a youth event and thought I was already competing in track and field. I went out for cross country first, but I hated it — long runs and lots of conditioning. I liked the team atmosphere, but my body just wasn’t made for the longer distances. I ended up quitting that season, but I came back for the indoor track season.
Brachmann: What body parts are key for your events?
Hargrove: Strong legs and a strong core. It’s really key to have a strong core to get your legs up and down — especially toward the end of the 400 meters. Your core stabilizes your body, it keeps you healthy. It keeps everything moving in the right direction.
Brachmann: What do you do to train?
Hargrove: We train on the track five days a week, Monday through Friday. One day will be over-distance [intervals longer than the 400 meters]. One day will be a sprint day — maybe 80, 90 or 100 meters. In season I’ll have a recovery day, usually Wednesday, and that consists of a long run, which is 20 minutes for me, and a lot of core work, medicine ball work and balance work. On Thursdays, I’ll do race modeling: split 400s or repeat 300s, all at race pace. On Fridays, I’ll do hills or stadiums, an endurance day. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I also lift weights. I do a lot of Olympic lifts: power cleans, smashes, hang cleans, squats, lunges. I don’t do tons of upper body. I will do some pullups, but I focus on lower body and core in the weight room. I do a lot of hanging ab work, medicine ball, twists, weighted abs (like a V-sit with a weight on my feet) and side crunches. I add weight most of the time. I try to get up to 1,000 ab reps three times a week. I don’t always get there, but that’s the goal.
Brachmann: What do you do for maintenance?
Hargrove: I’m fortunate in that my coach is also a chiropractor. So I get adjusted twice a week to keep everything aligned, and that has really made a difference. I also get deep-tissue massages once a week and acupuncture about once a month. I try to take an ice bath a couple of times a week after hard workouts, and once a week — usually on my Wednesday recovery day — I do Epsom salt baths. The foam roller is definitely key, both before and after every practice, and I make sure I’m stretching well too.
Brachmann: What are your favorite exercises?
Hargrove: I really enjoy plyometrics — single-leg hops up the stadium steps, box jumps.
Brachmann: What do you tell yourself when you feel like you can’t train any more?
Hargrove: The 400 is a really difficult race, so I’d rather deal with being tired in practice than being tired in a meet and getting beat. I just tell myself that preparation is key, and you have to fight through those days when you’re not feeling your best. You might come to a race on a day you’re not feeling your best, but you still have to compete. So I try to get myself in the mindset of having to give my best. Plus, I know my competitors are training hard. Also, a lot of times in track I’ll surprise myself; on days I’m not feeling well mentally, I can still get over that and have a great workout. In fact, my best race came on a day I was feeling the worst.
Brachmann: How has your training evolved over your career?
Hargrove: The past two years I’ve focused a lot more on technique, trying to run correctly and hold my form as I start to get tired. My mentality when I first started was, ‘If you’re in great shape, it doesn’t matter how you look, as long as you finish.’ In the past couple years, my coach and I have put a lot more emphasis on proper running mechanics. It makes you more efficient and makes everything a little easier, as I’ve learned.
Brachmann: How important is your diet to your training?
Hargrove: Having a good diet is hard for me. A lot of the time, I think I run so much that I’m going to burn off anything I eat. But I’ve definitely gotten into healthy eating. I bought myself a juicer and have been using that every day. I’ve cut down on my carbs, I try to get some good protein every meal and I try to fill my plate with veggies. A typical meal is a piece of fish or chicken, a baked potato or sweet potato, veggies and some fruit for dessert. I do have a sweet tooth, and my treat after races is usually ice cream. Right now, I’m pretty much competing every weekend, so after races I treat myself to ice cream or maybe a brownie or cookie.
Brachmann: What is your must-have training food?
Hargrove: I don’t feel right if I don’t have a banana. They have good carbs and a lot of potassium to keep me from cramping, especially when it’s hot.
Brachmann: What about your body do people comment on most?
Hargrove: My stomach. Usually I get, “I would die for that stomach” or “How can I get abs like that?” I get that all the time.
Brachmann: What do you dislike about your body?
Hargrove: Sometimes I wish my shoulders were a little smaller. I have what I call my in-season wardrobe and my offseason wardrobe. I pull out the tube tops and dresses during the offseason. Just from the weights, I have a lot more muscle mass during the season. In the offseason, I’ll take five weeks off from weights, so everything tones down dramatically.
Brachmann: What about your body would surprise readers?
Hargrove: My weight might be surprising. A lot of times when I tell people how much I weigh, people outside of track are like, “There’s no way you could weigh that much.”
Brachmann: What would you want readers to know about you and your body?
Hargrove: I do track and field and I love it, but my main motivation is to live a healthy lifestyle. I do this to try to inspire people to work out and live healthier lives. I want track to be my platform to reach out to people and get them into living healthy and being active and eating better.
- What does Jordan Spieth’s missed cut in Houston mean for Masters?
After shooting 69-77 in the first two rounds of the Shell Houston Open this week, Jordan Spieth missed the cut and will have an early flight to Augusta National for the Masters. His six bogeys in Round 2 derailed him as he also finished outside the top 100 in approach shots.
This is Spieth’s first missed cut since The Players Championship in May 2016.
But does it matter for next week’s Masters?
There has in recent years been a modest correlation between playing well in the weeks leading up to the Masters and winning the Masters, which is Spieth’s presumed goal. But Spieth has five other top 12 finishes this calendar year, including a win. A single missed cut in Houston doesn’t really set him back as much as some folks will probably tout next week.
Heading into the 2016 Masters, Spieth finished T13 at the Shell Houston Open and went on to infamously finish T2 at Augusta. The year before, he lost in a playoff in Houston and won the Masters. In 2014, he missed the cut at Houston and finished T2 at the Masters.
The common thread here? He’s just really good at Augusta.
“I don’t have two weekends in a row off very often,” Spieth said, who also missed out on the Round of 16 at the WGC-Dell Match Play last week. “Few years ago we missed the cut here and we had a chance to win on Sunday, so I’m not considering myself out of next week.
“I think we know and the other players that are playing next week know that we strike fear in others next week. So that’s our idea, that’s going to be my confidence level going in, and we’ll step on the first tee ready to play.”
The other angle on this is that the weather in Houston at the end of the week is supposed to be a little sketchy. If the tournament spills into Monday, that could affect the preparation of some golfers. Still, Spieth acknowledged that he was upset over the missed cut.
“I was not playing this tournament just as a leeway into the Masters,” Spieth said. “I was playing this tournament because I love this tournament and we lost in a playoff here before. I know we can have success. Certainly tough go around the course today, and you know the weather in Augusta is not good on Monday, either.
“We come into every tournament with the idea that we want to win that week and our focus is on that week. Yeah, a bit disappointing in that sense.”
As for his plan for Augusta, he said it’s a little up in the air.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the end of this week into next week,” Spieth said. “Our plan is probably to get there by Saturday night or Sunday morning at this point and get to work. I’d like to be out there for Drive, Chip and Putt. I thought it was a really neat experience a couple years ago. I’ll be happy to support my jacket out there with the kids and get some work in that day.”
Patrick Reed and Adam Scott joined Spieth with missed cuts in Houston.
- Sports teams are getting more exposure on social media than they are on TV: Expert
March Madness – the main season for U.S. college basketball – generated $1.24 billion of TV ad dollars in 2016 according to Kantar Media, making it the second most valuable post-season sports tournament in the U.S.
And while advertisers in the sports arena always want to go where the eyeballs are, they may want to shift their attention to social media, which has the potential for greater reach than TV, according to one expert.
Ophir Tanz, the chief executive of Gum Gum, a technology company that analyzes the images posted on social media and correlates them with brands, claims that the potential of social platforms in sport has been hugely undervalued. Gum Gum works with some of the teams in the NBA basketball league – which itself generated more than $1 billion in TV advertising in 2016 according to Kantar Media – to understand the impact of social media posts and put a monetary value on them.
“What we found is really quite striking. If you are a rights holder or team, we have been able to show that in most cases the exposure that’s being obtained on social is nearly equivalent and sometimes more than television,” he said during a panel led by CNBC anchor Carolin Roth at Advertising Week Europe in London this week.”
“TV is definitely not dead. I’d say there is still in many ways more sponsorship value to be extracted from that medium, ” he added.”
“At the same time, there has been a dramatic undervaluation of the exposure that social is providing – effectively if you can’t track it and prove it then it doesn’t really exist.”
For Nick Pinder, head of partnership marketing EMEA at the U.K.’s Manchester City Football Club, being able to quantify the value of social media is relatively new.
“We work with analytics companies to be able to quantify and to be able to put an accurate measurement on the growing social phenomena which hasn’t been the case in recent years. The strides we have been able to make have been significant, moving away from that typical model where it is driven by broadcast and driven by those numbers,” he said during the panel.
Manchester City’s streamed its women’s team’s first UEFA Women’s Champions League game on Facebook Live, in partnership with car manufacturer Nissan last October. Pinder said the engagement from fans was “extremely impressive.” Player Yaya Toure also used Snapchat spectacles to show people behind the scenes at City’s Etihad stadium in January 2017.
The value of a sports team or brand is something rights-holders work hard to quantify. Tim Ellerton, commercial director of Team GB, the U.K.’s Olympic team, is currently looking at this. “We’ve just put out a piece of work to really get to the crux of what the values of our own channels are and what that could mean to current and hopefully potential sponsors as well,” he said during the panel.”
“It will allow us to have a very sensible conversation with a partner when we put a number down on the table about what we believe our rights are worth, and hopefully we can verify it. It also allows that conversation when they go back to their CEO or CMO [chief marketing officer] to get sign off, do they actually understand what joining up with a brand like Team GB will actually mean for the short, mid and long term.”
- Wayne Rooney’s waning form
The once raging bull, foaming at the mouth to tear defenders into pieces and make stadiums quake, is now a mere shadow of himself
When Wayne Rooney made his Premier League debut for Everton against Tottenham Hotspurs at Goodison Park on 17 August 2002, the away fans screamed, “Who are ya? Who are ya? Who are ya?” Rooney, then 16, shut them up by assisting the first goal of the game.
Two months later, Everton were chasing a game at 1-1 against Arsenal. The Gunners were unbeaten in 30 games. Rooney was brought into a match that was in its last throes—aching for something special to bring it back to life. In the last minute, the Liverpool-born teenager expertly controlled a long ball, took a few touches, and sent a shot from 30 yards out which didn’t just crash into the back of the net, but scorched an entry into the record books of English football. Everton won, Arsenal finally lost, and a new superstar was born.
“Remember the name: Wayne Rooney!” commentator Clive Tyldesley screamed in disbelief.
And if Rooney’s career was to be summed up in one word, it would be disbelief. Whether it’s the £27 million (Rs217 crore now) that Manchester United paid for him in 2004, or the fact that he had already played 50 times for Everton before turning 18, or his debut hat trick for United in the Champions League, Rooney’s career is defined by audacity.
But if Rooney exploded on to the football world in a sudden, unshackled burst of energy and enthusiasm, then the demise of his career has been slow and painful. For the first time in 14 years, the England captain has been dropped by his country—he made his England debut against Australia when he was 17 years and 111 days old. One hundred and sixteen caps and a record 53 goals later, Rooney’s international career may well be over.
His prospects at Manchester United are equally bleak. The last time Rooney played a full 90 minutes was against Wigan Athletic in the fourth round of the FA Cup in January. He last played in a European competition in August 2016. United manager José Mourinho has left him out of three Europa League knockout games, and didn’t pick him for the FA Cup fifth-round game or the League Cup final. He has made just nine starts in 18 Premier League appearances, taken just 31 shots and scored only twice. For a man who has played 550 times at The Theatre of Dreams in Manchester, scoring 250 goals and creating 145 others, these numbers elicit pity rather than frustration.
Age has nothing to do with the snubs. England manager Gareth Southgate has recalled Jermain Defoe, who is 34. At United, Zlatan Ibrahimović leads the line at the age of 35 and is expected to do so even when he turns 36 next year. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo is eight months older than Rooney and won Fifa’s best player in the world award a few months back. But Rooney is just 31, usually the age when experience and fitness come together for most players to create the perfect recipe on a football pitch. Not for Rooney though—the once raging bull, foaming at the mouth to tear defenders into pieces and make stadiums quake, is now a mere shadow of himself, chasing balls that don’t need chasing.
Rooney’s problem has always been his body.
“Even if I don’t train for a week, I put on two or three (pounds), but when I get back to Carrington for the first day of work, I’m in for a shock. The scales in the club gym tell me I’ve put on a few more pounds than expected—seven. Seven! Then I remember—I drank a few bevvies while I was away. I’m stocky. I’m not like Ryan Giggs, all bone and lean muscle. I gain weight quite easily. I need to be sharp, which means my fitness has to be right to play well. If it isn’t, it shows,” he wrote in his 2012 autobiography Wayne Rooney: My Decade In The Premier League.
Former United manager Alex Ferguson spoke of Rooney being fully mature physically even when he was just 18. For ex-United defender Rio Ferdinand, it means that Rooney’s real body age could be more than his age on paper: “He is 31 years old but he has probably got the mileage of a 36-year-old with what he has done in his career and the velocity that he plays at, the scrutiny and the pressure. In fact, he is probably in a 40-year-old athlete’s body. Most of those games he has played, especially the first 13 years, his stats showed he had probably out-run everybody in the team.”
Ferdinand’s words came after Rooney became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer overtaking Sir Bobby Charlton, with his 250th strike—a free kick against Stoke City in a January league match that was like a magician’s final act before he takes a bow, the curtains closing on the stage rapidly with no guarantee of an encore performance as time ticks away.
Games fly past and a new generation threatens to cut short a career that has seen him win everything club football has to offer, along with the ebb and crash of controversies that include flirting with arch-rivals Manchester City, criticizing England’s supporters on camera during World Cup 2010 and being photographed while getting plastered at random parties across the country.
Rooney’s greatest test was in the winter transfer window in January, when there was interest from China. Despite his waning form, he remains a popular figure due to his Manchester United legacy, but he remained with a team which hardly needs him. As he once said, he is “English through and through”, so it’s hard to see a lumbering Rooney in Asia. Top European teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, the Milan clubs or those in England don’t have room for someone whose first touch makes his feet seem like they’re made of lead. A crippling £300,000 per week wage, which has remained unchanged since the contract he signed in 2014, does not help his case either.
Chelsea were interested in buying him a couple of seasons ago, with Mourinho at the helm. But the same coach is now forced to leave Rooney out of his plans. Mourinho started him in his first five league games in charge at United, culminating in a terrible performance against Watford. Rooney was given the chance to prove his case, and he lost it, much like his pace and agility.
“I cannot guarantee that I’m here next week, how can I guarantee that a player is here next season? What I can guarantee is that, if one day Wayne leaves the club, it is not because I want him to leave the club. I would never push a legend of this club to another destiny. You have to ask him if he sees himself staying in the club for the rest of his career or sees himself moving,” Mourinho had said in late February, when asked if he was willing to sell Rooney. Since that interview, Rooney has played a total of 70 minutes in over a month—a leg injury forcing him further down the pecking order.
Even today, Tyldesley’s words make sense—“Remember the name: Wayne Rooney”—but in a more pleading fashion. As if to will fans into remembering a man who used to be a phenomenal player, the one who scored an overhead-kick winner in the Manchester derby in 2011, and celebrated with his arms outstretched, soaking the adrenalin fuelled by the fans who fondly call him the “White Pelé”. Now the same fans whisper in distress when he plays. Since he burst on to the scene as a teenager, Rooney’s career has been characterized by explosive goals, bristling pace and a fiery desire to win. Now it resembles a candle in the wind.