In the aftermath of the international break, much of the focus has inevitably been on Wayne Rooney and the suspension incurred after the sending off during our qualifier. The build up to United’s trip to Anfield would normally have dominated the back pages, yet all attention was on how England would cope with the loss of their star striker.
The loss of self-control displayed by Rooney to cause the red card against Montenegro again raised issues over the player’s ability to compartmentalise when off the field problems rear their ugly head for the boy. Whereas some players will channel this to their advantage and produce man of the match performances – think Lampard after the death of his mother, scoring to send Chelsea through in the semi -finals of the champions league- Rooney’s form takes an alarming dip.
Much of the reason for his improvement in form this season has been the lack of issues off the pitch, with his marriage back on track, yet after the arrest of both his father and uncle, anyone who had watched the player over the last few years could sense he may be more of a hindrance than a help so soon after the scandal.
Capello chose to ignore this however, and started the player, only for him to be frustrated throughout the game and red carded for a stupid and reckless challenge, subsequently receiving a three match ban and missing all of the group games next summer. Fergie then decided to leave both Hernandez and Rooney on the bench for the game on the weekend, and how much of a part the international debacle had to play in this is anyone’s guess, and in their place started Daniel Welbeck, who provided the assist for the equalising goal, and again put in a stellar performance.
It is the emergence of both Welbeck and his namesake Daniel Sturridge at Chelsea that has been remarkable this season, and the fact of the matter is, they are more than capable of leading England’s line this summer, or at the very least playing a significant part in the squad. We also have Owen, who has shown that his career is not over with some decent displays for United, and can provide a wealth of experience and guidance for the younger stars should Capello consider him for inclusion.
Using one player as an excuse or scapegoat for a team’s failure is never the way to go, nor is using one player as the star whom all expectations are pinned on. Rooney cannot become this player for England. Much like Raul with Spain, although his talent was undeniable, the focus cannot be so heavily on just one individual. No good can come of this, and looking at Spain as the classic example, once their players became united and focused on the team as a whole not their individual alliances or talents, they became champions of both Europe and the world.
England have players who have the ability to stand up and be counted should the need arise, and it has to be acknowledged that Rooney is not a young 20 year old anymore, and should know better than to put himself in red card situations. This is something that the player has to eradicate from his game – flashes back to the sending off against Portugal after the stamp of Carvalho spring to mind, and Rooney cannot afford a repeat of this scenario again in an England shirt.
It would be wrong to say the player is not a key player for England – with the talent he possesses, of
course he is, but nor is it the end of the world that we are without him for the first few games. Not only do we have Welbeck and Sturridge but we also have Daren Bent and Jermaine Defoe, who again shone for Spurs this weekend. Crouch is enjoying a new lease of life at Stoke and Andy Carroll is taking his chances at Liverpool when they come his way.
Evidently Rooney has the experience and talent England need in their line-up but his temperament at times leaves something to be desired – Wayne Rooney is not the be all and end all of England, teams not individuals win trophies, and for England to have a hope of doing so in the summer they need to adopt this mantra and fast.
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