For many of its fans, it’s been easy to pinpoint England’s biggest scapegoat at recent World Cup showings.

Despite all of his Premier League successes and wonder goals, Man United’s Wayne Rooney, for whatever reason, simply hasn’t been able to duplicate his performance on the world stage.

In his two previous World Cups (2006, 2010) the 28-year-old Rooney has more red cards (1) than combined goals and assists (0) in eight matches; not exactly an ideal showing for the man many people claim is the Three Lions’ best and most important player.

But, according to Sky Sports’ Paul Merson, all of the pressure to produce should not fall on Rooney. In fact, Merson believes that the players around Rooney are just as important as Rooney is himself.

“When (England) play Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica, the team talks a bit about stopping Wayne Rooney because he’s probably England’s best player,” Merson said in a recent interview.

“So it’s important the other players, when he get man-to-man or has two men around him when he’s on the ball, perform well.

“So I wouldn’t put all of the emphasis on Rooney. If the other players do perform, then all of a sudden the game opens up and he gets time on the ball.

“When he gets space and time, I don’t care who they are, he’ll hurt anybody in world football.”

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