England: Best player vs Italy – not Sterling


Square pegs round holes

As has become traditional in a World Cup or Europe championship Wayne Rooney seems to be taking a lot of flak.

The Manchester United forward was one of the standout players at club level this season but but got injured towards the end of the campaign which slowed his momentum to a degree.

Nevertheless many are saying that the pivotal point in the game against Italy was Rooney’s miss. He is fully expected to score from 12 yards and that’s a fair criticism.

But the fact that he was expected to score comes from the notion that he is the best striker England have. Daniel Sturridge has come on in leaps and bounds over the last year but if we could put one England player one on one with the opposition keeper it would still be Rooney every time. He’s England’s best finisher and his stats prove it.

But Roy Hodgson played him on the left and, although he put in a shift as you would expect, his threat was largely nullified. But he still provided the best moment of individual skill in the match with that world class cross from his left foot. Rooney is such a good player that he has become victim of his own success. Played out of position because he is capable of doing it when others aren’t.

But it must be so frustrating for him to take one for the team and then get barracked for a quiet performance. Rooney played on the left for Manchester United quite a bit a few years back. He did a decent job then too. But it was painfully obvious that he’s much more potent through the centre.

Despite Sterling’s encouraging performance the only really world-class touch came from Rooney’s cross – which he put on a plate with his wrong foot without breaking stride – over to Sturridge for the goal. You can talk about players performing well but, when it came down to it, Rooney still provided the most important bit of skill for England in the entire 90.

Sterling’s overall contribution was excellent but the key contribution came, once more, from the heavily criticised Rooney. At 28 he is starting to require mobile players around him and Sturridge, Barkley and Sterling have all got loads of athleticism and pace. Let them buzz around Rooney who, at number 9, can be England’s world class finisher, conserving himself for the important moments in the game rather than caning it up and down the line to help out his full back. It’s just a massive case of over thinking the situation by Roy Hodgson. Because playing the Manchester United man out wide for England is more of an insult than a complement.

Rooney England’s weak link? Utter nonsense. He was England’s best player, played out of position.

Manchester United’s number 10 had one chance for England against Italy and missed it so the public is on his back. But give him five chances and we guarantee he will get you a couple of goals. But he isn’t going to get five chances playing wide left. Is he Roy?

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