England face two ‘cup finals’ in the last two groups games of the World Cup. Much of the debate surrounding the team’s preparation for the game against Uruguay tonight is whether Roy Hodgson should consider benching Wayne Rooney.
While public opinion is heavily split over the debate, we’ve postulated FIVE reasons as to why the Manchester United striker could reasonably be dropped to the bench.
It is a decision which Hodgson is unlikely to take, but while it remains a slight possibility, here are the FIVE reasons.
As is often the case with footballers, their reputations carry them a much greater distance than their talents and achievements. Wayne Rooney has been surviving off of his enhanced reputation in an England jersey for some time, and there are players who are more deserving of their place in the side.
Rooney may have been out of his comfort zone against Italy, but that was because Raheem Sterling has shown so much potential to suggest he was the right man for the central role. And few could argue it having seen his performance. The likes of Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Ross Barkley, and Adam Lallana have shown more consistently dangerous form recently, and could all stake a claim to be worthy of a place above Rooney.
Oh the irony. Here I am criticising Rooney, only to blame people such as myself as a reason to drop the man. Well, it’s fair point. Whilst the media are wholeheartedly supporting the England side, longing to fill the back pages with beautiful recitals of English triumph, they are fully prepared to pounce when things go wrong.
Rooney, such is his reputation, is always a figure of scrutiny when times are hard. The media vibes that resonate throughout the England camp, focusing heavily on the Manchester United striker, cannot be healthy for team morale. By giving Rooney the night off against Uruguay could help avert the attention of the media away towards those actually playing football. Or could it?
He was only given half an hour of time against Italy, but Ross Barkley showed that the only person who can hold him back from setting alight the world stage is Roy Hodgson. He was a ball of energy as he entered the field of play, looking to turn and take the ball into dangerous areas and drive at Italy’s defensive unit.
The Everton youngster thrives given a freer, central role in the side, the type that Wayne Rooney likes to occupy. While Rooney will always be a threat, given the right position, with his goals and passing range, Barkley’s style of play is the type that strikes fear into his opponents and can singlehandedly alter mindsets. He needs more chance to show this.
Everyone can speculate over whether Rooney in a central role would have been better for England against Italy, but it’s worth keeping in mind quite how outstanding Liverpool’s 19-year-old was in the same position. Sterling displayed the fearlessness that everybody hoped to see in his game.
Is it really worth altering Sterling’s responsibility in the side just to accommodate an underperforming player? You know what they say. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And while a 2-1 loss against the Italians may suggest that there is fixing to be done, it shouldn’t involve tampering with the most functional parts.
If players such as Barkley and Lallana are seen as reasonable options from the bench, then why on earth should Rooney be exempt from this? The Manchester United striker has for the previous two World Cups been a staple name in the England first-team, and yet hasn’t delivered when called upon from the beginning of the game.
With the options England have in the squad, Rooney’s abilities may be better served used as an impact. He has the best vision of any player in the squad, and has the ability to break down packed defences by threading through passes. If England were to adopt a more direct, pacey approach from the outset, Rooney would bring something different to the table if he were called upon later on in the game.