Jamie Carragher has labelled the recent criticism of Wayne Rooney “ridiculous”.
The former Liverpool centre-back has used his Daily Mail column to launch a passionate defence of the Manchester United and England captain.
Rooney appeared to have the freedom to play exactly where he wanted against Slovakia for England on Sunday and Carragher claims he has earned that right.
“All week I’ve taken others’ criticism of Wayne Rooney on board, listening to the constant chipping away at what he apparently cannot do and why he is no longer good enough. Each day I’ve felt my mouth open a little more in disbelief. Most of what has been said is nonsense,” writes Carragher.
“I want to make it clear here that I’m not going to paint a picture to suggest Rooney is in his pomp. He isn’t the dynamic force of nature he once was. It would be ridiculous to try to say he is and certain observations about him have been legitimate.
“Ridiculous, though, is the perfect word to describe some of the things that have been said about him since England’s 1-0 win in Slovakia. What exactly was so awful about his performance that has prompted this dissection?
“What is it about our culture that enjoyment is taken when greats are on the wane?
“People couldn’t wait for Steve McClaren to get David Beckham out of the England team, for instance. Brendan Rodgers had to cope with a clamour to construct a Liverpool team without Gerrard.
“Why are we in such a hurry to get rid of players with such experience and quality? Why is Rooney the latest to find himself getting the same treatment?
“If there is a queue of great talent waiting to come in and take his place, I haven’t seen it.
“All that came to mind when I watched England last weekend. Rooney wasn’t brilliant, as Allardyce claimed he was, but he was still one of the better players on the day and played the pass of the match to Theo Walcott. You wouldn’t have had anyone else as captain for the new manager’s first game.
“Yes, he was guilty, at times, of being on his own central defenders’ toes to take possession and that is something Allardyce — and Mourinho — should tell him about but, you know, it was refreshing to see him still so enthusiastic, wanting to get on the ball at all times.
“On Sky they talked about what he did in the No 10 role. On these pages, meanwhile, it was said Rooney was ‘killing Harry Kane’ and a graphic highlighted that ‘our striker never had any touches in the box’. He didn’t play as a No 10 or a striker!
“Another argument was formed about England being better when Dele Alli came on. They were. All the balls Alli received came from Rooney. And why should he have Rooney’s place? I’m a big fan of the Tottenham midfielder but he had a poor tournament and hasn’t started the season well.
“Rooney has said he will retire from international football after the next World Cup, but if he is still in the team by the time Russia comes around, then Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley and Alli will have to ask themselves what they have done wrong if they can’t displace someone who will then be 32.”