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Rooney gets a new ghost

The pairing of Hunter Davies with Wayne Rooney as biographer and subject looked like a dream partnership when publishers HarperCollins signed the Manchester United and England star to a £5 million book deal.

Davies has been regarded as a literary heavyweight among writers on football ever since the publication in 1972 of The Glory Game,  a portrait of Tottenham Hotspur that took the reader behind the scenes at a football club with an intimacy that no author had attempted before. It duly earned recognition as a classic work.

The Scottish-born journalist has written more than 30 books, including novels for adults an children, several biographies and numerous titles relating to the Lake District, where he lives for half the year.  His football subjects have included Paul Gascoigne and Dwight Yorke.

Yet sales of Wayne Rooney: My Story So Far, written by Davies as told by Rooney,  have fallen some way short of HarperCollins's expectations.  It did not help that publication came in the wake of a disappointing England performance in the World Cup finals in 2006 but critics have also observed that Davies did not seem able to coax any particularly exciting material from the player.

HarperCollins are planning a second attempt to generate a substantial return on their deal later this year but will not be pinning their hopes purely on a better showing from Rooney and his teammates in South Africa.

According to reports, the ghostwriter this time will not be Davies but Matt Allen, a somewhat less well-known writer who includes FourFourTwo, Q and Mojo magazines among his journalistic credits and has written books about Jimmy Greaves and Wimbledon's Crazy Gang years.

He has also produced an interesting collection of Where Are They Now? pieces about football stars of the 70s and 80s.

For more on Wayne Rooney, or more by Matt Allen, visit The Sports Bookshelf shop.

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