A defining World Cup for England and Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney

Few weeks have defined Wayne Rooney’s England career and the state of our national game like the last.

Seven days ago, the boy once set up as the great white hope found himself a man primed for an unceremonious fall from grace.

Some suggested grace never existed – Rooney’s failure to find the net at a World Cup, scoring only once in a decade of tournament football since bursting onto the scene at Euro 2004 – seemingly discrediting his position as our national star.

Add to that a demotion to left wing for England’s opening group game against Italy, with starlet Raheem Sterling preferred centrally, and the knives were well and truly out as England prepared to face Uruguay.

A week on, England find themselves eliminated before the knockout stage for the first time since 1958. The headlines have rightly focused on Suarez tearing Cahill and Jagielka apart (without using his teeth), but the game also witnessed Wayne Rooney’s coming of age.

For all the hype surrounding the young English talent, it was the 28-year-old who, by scoring to break his goal duck and fashioning three other chances, proved England’s most potent attacking threat.

And most telling of all, when England fell behind in the dying minutes, it was not skipper Gerrard who forged one final foray, but Rooney. In bulldog fashion, he charged straight from the restart, with a verve, pace and determination that many had thought long gone. Eventually he was fouled just outside the Italian penalty area.

As England slumped to defeat heads fell. Failure writ clearer than previous tournaments for Gerrard, Lampard and the remnants of the old order.

Now aged 34 and 36 respectively, the pair saw out the last twenty minutes of Tuesday’s final group game against Costa Rica, partnering as ineffectively as they did ten years ago. The truth is, Hodgson was left little choice given how poorly his youngsters performed in the final game, their last opportunity to save face.

Both senior players are expected to announce international retirement in the coming weeks, leaving Rooney the most likely to take over the captaincy, with Joe Hart his understudy. The man droppable just days ago is now being readied to lead.

This is no bad thing as Rooney has felt pain internationally and tasted success at club level. Many of the new England squad are scarily inexperienced, so his maturity and battle hardened ways will be vital.

There will be those worried he will not be able handle the pressure of being the main man. In fact, Wayne has always thrived on being treated as king. What he struggles with most is people lacking confidence in him, be it Ferguson, Hodgson, or England fans.

If this week, and England’s World Cup debacle has shown one thing, it’s that Wayne Rooney is ready: tough enough, and good enough as England look to the future.

7 Comments

  1. God help England if Rooney was the most potent attacking threat!
    As usual he has failed. We have known at Old Trafford for the last few years that Rooney is taking all he can from the game and giving little back.
    At least his annual tantrums and moans seem to be over for this year, as is his World Cup.
    Has he forgotten his words pre Brazil. “No excuses this time, no injuries, I will perform at this World Cup.”
    Fortunately for Rooney, the English press seem to have forgotten these words also, which is to his advantage.
    As is usually the case over the years whoever has been the great white hope invariably becomes the less than great white dope.

  2. By the way if, by scoring a tap-in from one yard out, his first World Cup goal in three competitions, he has proved he is good enough for England, then that says a lot about the standard required to play for England. He wouldn’t get near any of the other top countries.

    • I agree that Rooney (with his agent) has shown a mercenary attitude towards United which disgusts me and I would not be overly bothered if he moved on. I think he is past his peak and given his physiology and lifestyle, I can see him deteriorating quite rapidly as he passes thirty.

      Nonetheless, at this point in time he is still a good player and certainly England’s best (albeit best of an ordinary bunch). Rooney’s ‘tap in’ goal against Uruguay came after he had been fouled deep in his own half out on the touchline. No freekick was given, play went on and he sprinted 60 yards to get on the end of the cross and score. Contrast that with Gerrard who didn’t make a 60 yard run in 90 minutes.

      “English” football is in a mess but blame the greedy, short-sighted, incompetent F.A. clowns who run the game and the Premier League. Trevor Brooking was the F.A. ‘Director of Football Development ‘ for years, but did sweet F A except get a knighthood. It’s not the current England players fault if they are the best available but hardly world class. The game needs restructuring at the grassroots level with money taken from the top of the tree.

      Apologies for calling you a muppet, Spanish Red. I had a bad experience with several bottles of Spanish Red a while ago and the hangover still lingers.

  3. Hi Spanish Red, thanks for commenting.

    I agree it’s a worrying sign that a man who only scored one goal stands as England’s main attacking threat, but I do feel he made the most chances etc (even if he squandered far too many before breaking his duck), and did actually outperform most of the squad.

    When it mattered he got the goal against Uruguay.

  4. The English support we have given Rooney is nothing short of disgraceful. Johnson Henderson not just because they are Liverpool players but because they are poor average players yet no questions over them. With out Rooney sturridge wouldn’t have scored and without Rooney England wouldn’t even be at the world cup

  5. What!!!!! a disgrace, they should sack the whole of the F.A., they just fly to Brazil play a couple of games and come home, What!!! a debacle!! these guys are getting 100,000 pounds a week What!!!!!, lets start again and copy the German system that works, there country first always!! chuck out all the foreign players, and only have one or two per club will they do that What!!!! there so greedy, English football is just about money and corporate greed!! come on lets sack em all and start again, boycott all the premiership matches until they get rid of the overseas players!! and go with the German system!! country first.

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