England were dismal during their 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa, with Wayne Rooney’s performance being the most disappointing thing considering the way he was built up pre-tournament. What was the reason for the Manchester United man’s poor display was he over-tired, misused, hampered by injury, or is he just overhyped and overrated?
Personally I think way too much expectation was heaped on the 24-year-old forward’s shoulders ahead of the World Cup and it was always unlikely that he would live up to such a high billing.
The reason why he cannot live up to the hype is because he simply isn’t as good as the media and certain pundits believe him to be. That’s not to say he isn’t a good player, I think he’s a very good player and the envy of many managers around the world. However, to put him on a par with the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and even Kaka is way off the mark.
Messi’s Argentinean team-mate Diego Milito believes it is laughable to argue that Rooney is on a par with the current best player in the world:
“When we hear the English or anybody else in the world of football trying to compare Wayne Rooney with Messi, we find it laughable.
“Rooney is a very good player there is no doubt about that – but to put him on the same level as Messi is wrong. It’s not up for debate, it’s just wrong.”
The 31-year-old Inter Milan star argued that there are certain players out there who are understandably put on a pedestal with Messi, but the Three Lions man is definitely not one of them:
“While I don’t agree with it, I can understand Messi being compared to Kaka and Ronaldo, but Rooney? No, no, no.”
Many blame Rooney’s performance (and that of the team in general) on the fact that Fabio Capello’s tactics are dated and his regime overly oppressive.
A lot of fans, pundits, experts and columnists were crying out for a change in Capello’s thinking and play a 451, rather than the predictable and laborious 442 formation which often saw players like Emile Heskey trudge around the pitch with a lack of grace and a goal threat which was quite frankly toothless.
The myth was that Heskey ‘gets the best out of Rooney’ but there was no evidence of this in South Africa. Many called for England captain Steven Gerrard, who was wasted on the left of midfield himself, to play behind the Manchester United forward in a similar way to how he plays with Fernando Torres at Liverpool.
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The truth is that Rooney operates best as a lone striker, a role he often occupies for his club and has done it well scoring 26 Premier League goals last season.
However, no matter how bad Capello’s tactics were they don’t inhibit Rooney from doing the most basic of things like controlling the ball or passing to a team-mate. It’s not the England coach’s fault that Rooney has been caught in possession more than any other player in the World Cup (so far).
Another argument that I won’t buy is the ‘awww they’re tired’ excuse which came from the England manager himself. The fact is that the young and hardworking Germany side which sent England packing had played more games on average than Capello’s men, but talk will no doubt be more about the need for a winter break rather than the need to produce more technically gifted players in this country.
On the other hand, although tiredness is not good enough as an excuse it was clear to me at times that Rooney hadn’t fully got over the injury which dogged him during the latter stages of last season. This led to the Manchester United man becoming frustrated with himself and with the dire situation the team had found themselves in. Ultimately his frustrations boiled over leading to a foul mouthed rant at the camera about the England boo-boys after England’s worse performance in years, the 0-0 draw with Algeria.
Rooney’s a great talent and will get over this as soon as he is back in Manchester working with a manager who can harness his abilities to the best. Many will understandably be upset with his displays in South Africa, but he must not be made a scapegoat as Capello’s setup was a shambles, the squad as a whole were overhyped and disharmony in the camp didn’t help either.
What do the fans think is the reason behind Wayne Rooney’s poor showing at the World Cup finals?