This Summer England fans can look forward to the inevitable under performing and early exit at the Euro 2016 Tournament in France we have come to expect – or will they? With the win over Germany and a sell-out crowd at Wembley for the Netherlands friendly, expectations are starting to rise, but one face is missing in particular. With all the excitement surrounding the young crop of England players, the Captain Wayne Rooney’s position in the side is seemingly coming under pressure. Questions are starting to be asked as to whether he could even make the squad, let alone the starting line-up. This all begs the question will Rooney be at the Euros? Or will he be going on his Summer Holidays elsewhere?
England gave one of their best performances in recent friendly memory against the old enemy, and instead of the usual painful viewing, fans were treated to an exciting comeback against an full strength Germany side. Goals from Kane and Vardy and stellar performances from Dele Alli and Eric Dier have led to questions about where to fit Rooney, and if we did, would we even be improving the team?
His England career has spanned over 13 years, but stats can be misleading, and Rooney’s critics will point to his poor performances at major tournaments.
Rooney certainly has the international stats to back him. We all know of his tremendous records for Manchester United but it always happens in spurts, and with International football being as sporadic as it is, it means Rooney would struggle to build a rhythm. Volume of goals have not been the problem, with Rooney sitting atop the all-time leading England goal scorers with 51. 30 of these have been in competitive matches with 6 from the penalty spot and 2 free kicks. There is no doubting the Liverpudlians’ ability to score anywhere, anyhow. Neil Lennon recently came out to say he thinks that Rooney should be the first name on the team sheet still, “Obviously, he’s got to prove his fitness first…he looked in really good nick before his injury. I think Wayne’s one of those player where the more you write him off, the more he wants to come back and retaliate in his own way”. His England career has spanned over 13 years, but stats can be misleading, and Rooney’s critics will point to his poor performances at major tournaments.
After the excitement of Euro 2004 and the 18-year-old Rooney’s 4 goals, he has never matched that since. He has only managed 6 goals in major tournaments and has always been found wanting on the big stages. He has been part of the failed golden generation teams and also some dire appearances by England at World Cups, most notably South Africa where he raged at the reaction of England Fans. Some will point to the country he has scored at most, San Marino, as a perfect summary of his England career, lots of goals, but not when most needed.
With Sturridge, Wellbeck and Vardy all vying for attacking positions, Rooney may have to look elsewhere for a spot on the team.
Rooney’s biggest hurdle to getting to France appears to be his own teammates. While he tweeted his congratulations to the squad straight after the Germany win, he won’t have missed the impressive showing from the team. Kane scored expertly in a tight situation, making his own personal tribute to Cruijff with his eponymous turn, before finishing perfectly passed Neuer. Alli gave another performance which has led to comparisons to Bryan Robson, and wearing Rooney’s number 10 jersey, he showed off his understanding with Kane and forced Neuer to make two saves as well. Jamie Vardy continued his outstanding year by scoring with virtually his first touch, and he is garnering more calls to start. Leicester’s assistant Craig Shakespeare said “For me, he’s a certainty to go to Euro 2016 and a certainty to play,”.
With Sturridge, Wellbeck and Vardy all vying for attacking positions, Rooney may have to look elsewhere for a spot on the team. His past attempts at playing out wide have failed and his habit of floating into central arrears will hurt England. With Alli in the number 10 role, there seems to be only solution. Playing in a deeper role could be the answer. With Rooney in the centre, he could play his long balls and pop up with that infamous powerful shot. This would mean though that he would take Jordan Henderson’s place, and with a new exciting crop of young players it seems harsh to cut one of them and their opportunity, just to squeeze Rooney in.
In my opinion even if to the detriment of England’s chances, time has run out on Rooney to prove himself on the biggest stage. He has had 13 years to make his mark in an England shirt, and he has achieved great things. His goal record will likely stand for a long time, but to deny one of the new exciting players to play, could be yet another example of England shooting themselves in the foot at a big tournament, which would be a shame for a side now fourth favourites. Thank you for the service Rooney, but this time, no thanks.