It’s tough at the top of the Premier League. There’s Wayne Rooney, a lad with a face, as some cruel person once said, like a well-spanked bum, throwing shapes that suggest he’s going to quit Old Trafford. He hasn’t been picked for the team on a number of times recently, his private life has been splashed all over the headlines (wife Colleen wasn’t amused by business dealings he conducted with a prostitute). And now Alex Ferguson and the Man United people have said they’ll renew his contract when it expires but they’ll pay him a mere £150,000 a week. Wayne’s not impressed so he’s looking round for somewhere else – maybe Real Madrid, maybe Barcelona, maybe (gulp) Man City.
Odd, really, the parallels with our dear First Minister, Peter Robinson. Like Wayne, Peter owns a face that can make people blink when they first see it. Like Wayne with Man U, Peter has been a DUP star for so long, it’s impossible to think of him in a different context. But like Wayne again, there have been rumblings that Peter could be off-loaded in the coming months. Why? Well, some colleagues weren’t amused by his business dealings over that piece of land, nor by the shenanigans of his wife Iris with her teenage lover. Officially, like the Man U management, the DUP top honchos have said of course they’ll renew Peter’s contract, in fact he’ll lead their Stormont team into the election next May. But it’s an open secret that some in the DUP think Peter is more of a liability than an asset and should be off-loaded now before more damage is done. Once upon a time, Peter showed a deadly finisher’s touch at the polls, scoring electoral success after electoral success. But like Wayne, he’s recently begun to fire blanks – since last Spring he’s slumped in the popularity ratings and lost his seat in Westminster.
But there is one, crucial difference between Wayne and Peter, and I don’t mean Peter’s taste in shirts. Wayne apparently wants to leave the Man U team and has a number of alternative parties ready to welcome him. Leaving is the last thing Peter wants to do and with good reason: awaiting him is not a warm welcome somewhere else, but political oblivion. Maybe that's what his education speech was all about.