Wayne Rooney must step away from England duty for good before his accomplishments are soured forever, while Sunderland are branded the real victims of the Daily Telegraph’s Sam Allardyce sting.
Wayne Rooney: thanks and goodbye
It may have been just a small minority, but Wayne Rooney wouldn’t have been immune to the booing that accompanied his late wayward effort against Malta on Saturday.
The jeering might not be the most subtle way to express frustration – as a fan, what else are you to do? – but the facts and stats behind Rooney’s poor showing against Malta make more than just a strong case to remove him from the side. And remove him on a permanent basis.
Rooney was on the ball often enough against Malta – but his influence was painfully limited. Only England’s man-of-the-match Jordan Henderson (187) had more touches than Rooney’s 177 and he made 153 attempted passes, bettered only by Henderson’s 178.
Sadly for Rooney though, not one of those touches came in the opposition’s box, as the image (right) shows.
Rooney gained possession on the most occasions, 14, but also lost it most for England with 25.
Most frustratingly for England fans, were the constant attempts to play the Hollywood pass – none of which had an impact, nor created a meaningful opportunity for a team-mate.
So if Rooney isn’t scoring, and he isn’t creating either, what is the point in having him in the side?
And if you can’t do it against Malta, then what chance do you have of doing it against the likes of Brazil, Germany, Argentina or Spain?
With Eric Dier proving far more of a success in recent months than Rooney in the holding role, and Dele Alli a far greater a threat in the No 10 slot the player most likely prefers, it’s very obvious that his star is on the wane.
England’s come-from-behind 3-2 win against Germany in March showed exactly how the team could play without the pedestrian-like Rooney slowing everything down.
And with our Player Ratings from Wembley giving Rooney an embarrassing 4/10, it’s become harder and harder to justify shoehorning the player into the England side.
And while interim manager Gareth Southgate was quick to defend him, there must be a part of him that will consider taking him out of the firing line in Tuesday’s clash in Slovenia….
It’s something his club manager Jose Mourinho has been quick to do; the Manchester United boss conveniently and rather cleverly bemoaning the scrutiny the player is under as an excuse to remove him from the side.
But herein lies the problem: Rooney is a centre forward, or more correctly, a No 10. He’s no longer good enough to play there for his club, where both Louis van Gaal last season, and Mourinho this, have both shunted the player into a deeper role.
So if he’s not getting games for his club at either his Plan A or Plan B positions , then why the hell should he for his country?
Its that time again guys…@waynerooney spotlight! Booing at the stadium too…come on guys, booing?? Liberty.
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) October 9, 2016
I’m not a huge fan of seeing supporters boo their own – Rooney’s former team-mate Rio Ferdinand was quick to criticise the jeers, claiming supporters were taking ‘liberties’. But Rio here was quick to miss the point: fans aren’t booing the player for his service to England, nor his goals record and nor his record caps haul he’ll very soon likely possess.
Comparing Gascoigne to Rooney
It’s more about the frustration at seeing a player no longer being good enough to serve his country – and the lack of a manager with the big enough balls to make the decision for him.
I remember when Glenn Hoddle named his squad for the 1998 World Cup in France and the furore Paul Gascoigne’s axing caused in the media. Having shone in Italia 90, and then denied the chance to play in USA 94 by England’s failure to qualify, the British public assumed it was Gazza’s right to play in France 1998. When the call didn’t come for the player, there were more column inches dedicated to Gascoigne than the 23 men who had been chosen.
Rightly or wrongly though, Hoddle showed he had the balls to make the big decision. It’s just a shame neither Sam Allardyce last month, or Gareth Southgate this, have the cojones to put the player out to graze.
Don’t get me wrong, Rooney has been England’s talisman for a good number of years, and that can never be taken away. But now we’re witnessing a sorry, slow decline of a player who, for want of a better phrase, is simply holding his country back.
When should Wayne Rooney retire from England duty?
Wayne: thank you for your service, your efforts, your goals and the pride you took in wearing an England shirt. It will always be appreciated. But like the tired old heavyweight who doesn’t know when to quit, Rooney must now step accept that it’s time to step aside and leave England in the much more capable hands of the next generation.
If not, there’s a very real chance those memories will be soured for good…..
Sunderland the ‘real victims’ of England’s Allardyce saga
On the subject of England and Allardyce’s fall from grace, precious little thought has been given to his former club Sunderland and how the now needless loss of him on Wearside makes it sting all the more.
TEAMtalk’s Michael Graham – a Sunderland fan – explains more…..
We are two months into the new Premier League season and Sunderland have already lost five games. Nothing new there, then, right?
Actually, if you’ll indulge me, I’d argue that point.
As a Sunderland fan, I can tell you that there is actually a rather big difference between the start of this season for my club and those that have gone before it: This one stings more. A lot more.
And it’s not really anything that’s going on on the pitch. That’s just same old same old. Lots of new players, don’t look like a team yet, giving away soft goals at self-destructive times, lacking in urgency, etc etc etc, blah blah blah, yada yada yada… Just, you know, typical Sunderland start of season stuff, really. I can’t speak for all fans, but I’ve personally become pretty desensitized to it really.
No, the reason why this one stings so much is because the club had finally got it right. It’s true. After years of searching for the right formula, Sunderland got it right last season. Sam Allardyce was the perfect fit on Wearside, and in fact the five Premier League games they have lost this season is more than they lost in the rest of 2016 up until Allardyce’s departure.
Last season, Sunderland didn’t need a mad late scramble for survival like previous years. They were assured and consistent and authoritative from January onward, seizing control of the relegation scrap and never letting it even look like slipping.
That was the basis upon which most fans appeared to embrace genuine optimism going into the summer. Allardyce, a much maligned figure among supporters at some of his previous clubs, had reconnected the players to the fans and there was genuine affection for him on Wearside. All felt just how it needed to be. Everyone was happy.
Fast forward just a couple of months, however, and Sunderland are miserable, Allardyce has lost his dream job with his integrity on public trial, and the FA are embarrassed and looking highly incompetent while England are without a manager or any real direction following their summer humiliation.
And that’s why, for a Sunderland fan, the current situation stings more than usual. In truth, Allardyce’s exit stung even before the Telegraph’s damaging accusations, but knowing now that is was for absolutely nothing just rubs salt in the wounds.