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The Big Man Is Out
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 4 years ago
Last night England were knocked out of Euro 2012, losing on penalties to Italy, having been thoroughly outclassed but holding on for a 0-0 draw.

This morning I took the bus across town to see a friend. I passed pubs with Euro 2012 bunting of all the participating nation’s flags. I walked past the 99p shop selling crumpled England flags. I stopped in at a café where they had a copy of the Daily Star, describing the England players as “brave” and with a photo of Wayne Rooney, his face thankfully covered by his shirt, gazing upwards in despair. Even with his face hidden, Rooney sells papers.

In the aftermath of England leaving the tournament, everyone has an opinion. Some people seem to think there was a new-found team spirit and togetherness in the England team. We shall see. Other people lamented the lack of ambition in keeping Steven Gerrard to closely tethered to the back four. I was told over and over how shockingly bad Rooney, Young and Milner were. Others complained that until there’s a total overhaul of English football we’ll never match the likes of Italy, Spain and Germany. Of course, everyone secretly believes that they could do a better job of managing England than Roy Hodgson, Fabio Capello or whoever happens to be in charge in a week's time.

Personally, I was thankful that for the first time in living memory, England entered a major tournament without the press embarrassing the country by screaming about a “golden generation” and how we would win it. Everyone seemed to have sobered up and accepted that this is a limited squad of decent but not fantastic players. For the first time in many years, a small sliver of reason entered the popular consciousness. It won’t last.

Where there was hype, it was focused on one man: Wayne Rooney. Whether or not you rate him, Rooney is the England player who sells shirts and sells papers. He’s the tabloid’s golden boy, the household name always ready to fire England to glory. He’s the world-class player, we are told, with the pride and passion to take England to new heights. Earlier in the tournament, having drawn with France and stumbled past Sweden, we were told to rejoice at Wayne’s return from suspension, safe in the knowledge that Wayne would do the business. Sadly, Wayne did not do the business. Against Ukraine, he scored the only goal of the game, from a yard out, but was otherwise shambolic. Against Italy, he combined well with Wellbeck for the first 15 minutes but then spent the rest of the game giving the ball away. He was clearly not match-fit and for the last hour of the match contributed very little. Even the BBC commentary team, accustomed to praising him unconditionally, accepted that his legs had gone. And yet – and this is what puzzles me – Hodgson refused to take him off the pitch. Wellbeck looked fit and energetic, but when it came time to introduce Andy Carroll, it was the Manchester United youngster, rather than Rooney, who made way.

Hodgson’s attitude reminded me of Fabio Capello in the 2010 World Cup. It didn’t matter how badly Rooney played (and at times he played very badly indeed) Capello didn’t sub him. It didn’t seem to matter how sharp the other strikers looked, Rooney stayed on the pitch. There’s the argument that a “world-class” player like Rooney is always capable of a moment of magic, but I’d say that overlooks the fact that we have plenty of other strikers (Jermain Defoe!) capable of getting a goal out of nothing. An unfit, out-of-form Rooney should not be on the pitch.

There’s no argument that Rooney is a very good player but the English press seem to think that he’s some kind of world-class powerhouse whose very presence terrifies other teams (the press are amusingly blinkered. Last night the BBC said the Italians wouldn’t have faced a striker like Andy Carroll before, as though they don’t play against Zlatan Ibrahimovic every week in Serie A).

On the international stage Rooney has done very little to justify this reputation for greatness. Let’s take a look at his international career. He burst onto the scene at Euro 2004, scoring four times and genuinely looking like the future of English football. But the future never arrived. He was injured before the World Cup in 2006 and missed the first game (Guilty of believing his own hype, he famously proclaimed “The big man is back!” when he turned up at the England training camp). There were doubts as to whether he was fit but he played nonetheless, coming off the bench against Trinidad and Tobago and starting against Sweden. He failed to score in either game. In the next game, the quarter-final against Portugal, he also failed to score but did manage to get red-carded for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho. England didn’t qualify for Euro 2008 but reached the World Cup in South Africa in some style. Once there, they were predictably awful and Rooney failed to score in all four games he played. In two World Cups Rooney has managed 0 goals and 1 red card.

I’m not suggesting that England lost last night because of Wayne Rooney. And I’m not saying that Wayne Rooney is a bad player. When fit and in form he’s a very good player, but he hasn’t been fit and in-form for England at a major tournament for eight years. The press (and England managers) have to stop behaving as though he’s England’s golden boy, capable of doing things no other player can. It’s an insult to the likes of Defoe, Wellbeck and countless others. He’s a good player but he should not be undroppable. Sir Alex Ferguson, a manager who inspires both terror and respect in most English journalists, has dropped him and subbed him at Manchester United whenever he feels the need. I’d like to see England managers showing the same level of bravery.

As I’ve said, what was pleasing about Euro 2012 was that for the most part, English fans seemed to accept the limitations of their team. It’s time to also accept the limitations of Wayne Rooney.

Blog by Greg

This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.
Itaintrite (Liverpool) 4 years ago

Despite scoring a goal against Ukraine, Rooney looked nothing like the player he was. Tired legs and tired mind. Hodgson dug his own grave by keeping Rooney on for the entire match even though he had missed several chances in the first half and early second. Carroll and Welbeck should've been up front.

Oh well
Fanlabs (Tottenham Hotspur) 4 years ago
Great post. It's a real shame that Rooney has been unable to replicate his club in form at international level. Going into World Cup 2010, he'd had a 34 goal season and last season he bagged 35. You can argue that teams like Fulham and Wolves don't match up to what you see at international tournaments, but Rooney's scored some pretty important goals against big teams and isn't usually a player who goes missing in big games. For that reason, I don't think it's unreasonable that people were expecting more. The media have always latched on to one prolific goal-scorer before every tournament and pinned their hopes on them. With Rooney having a pretty good season and with only Carroll and Welbeck aside him to choose from, they were always going to be expecting Rooney to do the business.

On the whole though, I was happy that we didn't enter the tournament with the ridiculous over-optimism that we usually have. If we had been a bit more pragmatic and realised we haven't been a world class team since the mid-90s, we wouldn't be disappointed so often! I think there are some positives to take out of the tournament and hopefully Roy can build the squad towards the world cup in 2014
RouslanH (Chelsea) 4 years ago
9/10 would read again.

Seriously though, Rooney is a class player like you said but he has his limits. England should not rely on just one man to play. Also, the media needs to stop overhyping every single player that had a good couple of games! It's good that it gives player recognition but it puts unnecessary pressure on those players! It hurts especially the young players who need to focus on their football instead of getting distracted by the 'spotlight'.

It is good that the English fans finally realised that their team is not good enough to dominate competitions. It has not been at least for the last decade or so. But no worries, England have good players for the future, although they need to be 'bred' carefully by coaches. They need to be taught how to be well organised and how to work under pressure. Germany has the best youth coaching programs for their players, and it would not hurt if the English borrow some tips from there.

Also, players need to love to play for their country. Of course this is very obvious and all, but there were some players who did not seem to want to play. Micah Richards, who was unluckily excluded from the 23 man squad, refused to be on the backup players list. Now that is telling us something. Although of course he was disappointed that he did not get chosen straight away, any player proud of their country would accept to be used as a standby player.

So all in all, the future for the English National team is not so bleak. There already are exciting young players on the team, who just need more experience (Hart, Welbeck, Walcott, Chamberlain from the 23 man squad for the Euro 2012). The more experienced players, such as Gerrard, Lampard (hopefully), and even Rooney should help in teaching the younger players in order for them to get better. But all of this takes time, and everyone needs to relax and wait. Hodgson does have a lot of players to chose from to get the 'perfect' or at least close to perfect squad, and that will take time
Araz (Queens Park Rangers) 4 years ago
Rooney is no good to anyone but United fans unless he produces for England on the biggest stage, on a regular basis. 29 Goals in 76 caps aint bad though, so maybe we just expect a little too much from him when he's not wearing a red shirt
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 4 years ago
It's not that he's a bad player - as I said, he's often a very good player, but he shouldn't be undroppable. I was looking at the papers today, and most of them had photos of Rooney rather than Steven Gerrard, the captain. The focus is always on Rooney - he's the boy wonder who will lead England to glory. It makes me wonder whether England managers are scared what the press will do if they drop him
Matt (Footytube Staff) 4 years ago
They are on a damned if you do damned if you don't deal.

If the manager drops Rooney the players play well and win/score the press declare imagine how good we will be when Rooney is playing.

If the manager drops Rooney we lose he will be lambasted from pillar to post for dropping the best player England has.

So it will require a brave manager to consider it but you only have to look at United where he has been dropped a few times and has come back better for it
2halves (Liverpool) 4 years ago
Rooney typifies English football as an inconsistent, brutish, brainless, egoistic, over-hyped embarrassment
[account-removed] 4 years ago
To each his own, but its obvious to most people that he is a very talented player that has matured a lot in these past few years
BeefCurtains (Limerick) 4 years ago
"Rooney typifies English football as an inconsistent, brutish, brainless, egoistic, over-hyped embarrassment"


"its obvious to most people that he is a very talented player that-"

-got 'rewarded', shall we say, with a contract extension (apparently worth up to £50m by Muttd) straight after England failed miserably in wc2010. After that, he finally quit faking it, openly stopped 'trying' and has rested on his laurels ever since.

Britain's culture absolutely always rewards mediocrity and failure at e-v-e-r-y single opportunity and then they wonder why they lag behind in.... Everything.

Peteko 4 years ago
I have liked Rooney's development in the last season. More of a team player, building actions not just benefiting from other peoples work and still scoring plenty. He seemed also humbler and more mature on the pitch.

Not sure why he sucks when he plays with the national team. Maybe it is a mental problem. Maybe he needs SAF as England coach to slap him on the back of his head. Maybe he needs 250, 000 a week when he plays for England too. We may never find out.

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