Wayne Rooney’s questionable track record at major tournaments has led to many calling for Roy Hodgson to drop the Manchester United striker. Jack McCann provides us with four reasons why he believes Hodgson needs to start the 28-year-old from the bench.
Roy Hodgson has already come out and said publicly that he was not satisfied with Rooney’s fitness and playing on the left against Ecuador was for fitness rather than tactical reasons. Rooney has always had problems with his fitness, especially in years when there is a European Championship or World Cup.
It’s not only at national level that he has come in for criticism on his fitness. In his autobiography Alex Ferguson said that Rooney’s talent could be ‘swallowed up by a lack of fitness’.
Considering he missed the majority of the end of the league season and the Ecuador friendly being his first game in a few weeks, it makes sense to play somebody like Ross Barkley or Adam Lallana in Manaus. They’ve both had outstanding seasons at Everton and Southampton respectively and they are both fully fit.
The counter argument is that Rooney brings lots of tournament experience, more on this later in the article, compared to Lallana and Barkley who are making their tournament debuts. However, a bit of fresh thinking in midfield or the number 10 position is just what England need.
Rooney and anger management seem to go together like two peas in a pod. When watching Manchester United or England it would be quite common to see Rooney getting very frustrated if the game wasn’t going well. Whenever he gets frustrated the chance of him being booked or sent off sky rockets.
The Italians play a style of football that can very easily frustrate anybody, especially players like Rooney. The Italians will be very happy to pass the ball between Andrea Pirlo, Thiago Motta and others until the end of time if they felt like it. This means Rooney and co. will have to do a lot of shuffling this way and that without touching the ball.
If this continues, Rooney will eventually jump into a tackle on Pirlo or another Italian and get booked or sent off. If he is introduced with 30-35 minutes to go in the game, he will be full of energy and there would not be enough time for him to potentially commit a bad foul or be sent off.
For the first time in a few years England actually have some depth to their squad heading into a major tournament. Apart from left back where they only have Glen Johnson England have good players fighting for a place in the starting XI come 11pm on the 14th.
In the position just behind Daniel Sturridge England have nearly too many options with Raheem Sterling and the three aforementioned players capable of playing there. England have a very good opportunity to expose some of the younger guys to the big tournament environment knowing they are good enough to perform.
Rooney is also no longer the first choice striker due to Sturridge’s exploits this season at Liverpool. He shouldn’t just be accommodated in the team just because of his name.
There is no doubt about it; Rooney is still a very good player on his day. However, he never plays to his full potential.
He has a lot of tournament experience., playing at every tournament since 2004. This means he has experienced losing to Portugal on penalties, being stuffed by the Germans in 2010 and other England capitulations at major tournaments.
This experience of failure may also weigh heavily not just on him but other players like Lampard and Gerrard. Whereas players like Barkley, Sterling, and Lallana have not experienced anything like that so they may actually feel more confident in their ability to express themselves in Brazil, as there’s not as much pressure on them to perform as there is on Rooney and other senior members of the squad.
Jack McCann, Pundit Arena.