by Alex Ferguson (no, not that one)
I feel it is important firstly for me to say this isn’t a hate campaign, although I am not a fan of Rooney at club level I want England to do as well as they possibly can which is why I am writing this.
The lad obviously has quality; I just feel that ever since he scored that goal back in 2002 against Arsenal we have all expected that little bit more. For me he hasn’t quite hit the heights expected of him consistently and at the moment his form just isn’t good enough. His goal scoring return is decent for both club and country but qualifying games against the likes of San Marino and playing in a title winning side for many years; goals will come anyway in my opinion. Take Edin Dzeko for example, often slated by many City fans I know but he scores pretty regularly in the best league in the world when given the chance. Anyway, moving on.
My main issue is that Roy Hodgson will not drop him. This season you could say that one of the most exciting teams to watch has been Liverpool, with their highest performers being English, Suarez aside. These are the players that should be at the forefront of our World Cup starting 11 probably alongside at least Lallana from Southampton and arguably Shaw also. You can almost guarantee that because we are England and scared of losing we will play a 4-2-3-1 with the 1 up top being Rooney. If not Rooney, Hodgson’s love affair with Welbeck will continue with Rooney behind him. So that means Sturridge will be pushed out wide where he isn’t anywhere near as effective. On the other hand, If Sturridge gets the nod as the one up top but then Rooney HAS to play somewhere; in this case he would be the 1 behind the central striker which in my opinion he isn’t suited to and that should be Lallana’s spot with Welbeck out wide. The other benefit of Lallana being through the middle is that it leaves space for Sterling out wide along with Welbeck. As you can see from the title, I honestly believe playing Rooney will hold back other players that have had much better seasons and deserve to start ahead of him. Unfortunately the England team very often seems to be picked on managers favorite’s rather than current form in competitive games.
Now to my opinions on Rooney’s playing style. As a striker he drops too deep for me, getting in the central attacking midfielder’s way and leaving nobody to run in behind the defenders. He clearly works hard which is needed but strikers must have some penetration. They need to turn and attack defenders and space to get the other team running back towards their own goal. We are no good playing in front of teams trying to keep the ball so we should attack quickly with passes in to space for players to run on to. Rooney doesn’t provide anything like this.
This brings me on to what I believe could be highly effective if we were to at least give it a go. In this transition period for English football, we aren’t going to win the World Cup so why don’t we at least go out having played some good football and not worrying about the opposition so much. I honestly think the public would rather see us lose 4-0 and have attacked the opponent than sit back and draw 0-0 after extra time and lose on penalties. Below I have drawn up my ideal front 6, I am sure you are shocked to see no Rooney! My thinking is this, two direct, quick and clever strikers who are willing to run in behind, chase down lost causes and just be a general threat. If they do drop deep they are likely to attack defenders rather than slowing the play down and if one does drop deep, the other would be on the last man waiting for that killer ball. Rodriguez has been fantastic this season and is also pretty handy in the air, Rooney lacks aerial ability. Playing Lallana centrally with Wilshere providing he’s fit gives us two mobile, strong and great passers of the ball who can get up and down for 90 minutes and leaves space for two fast players out wide who will also work hard and have an eye for goal.
I would love nothing more than for us to be brave from the off but unfortunately I just can’t see it happening, it is guaranteed that Rooney will play pretty much every minute at the World Cup and I’m expecting more below par performances from him dropping deep and slowing our play down to walking speed. In summary, we are way too negative and spend too much time worrying about the opposition, I’m sure if we could win games by drawing 0-0 then we would play for it every time. In my opinion, I believe we would be able to attack much quicker without Rooney in the side.
If you have any comments regarding this article please let me know!