Has this Manchester United star shown that the British press need to wake up?

Wayne Rooney

For the biggest cynics, Wayne Rooney’s head injury came at the perfect time. Here was another opportunity for a major star to pull out of the England squad ahead of another set of meaningless fixtures. No, no one likes international football.

The criticism of the Manchester United forward was profound, with many suggesting that he could have travelled with the England squad despite being unavailable for selection. What was interesting was that there were few highlighting the importance of Rooney returning to match fitness for Manchester United, as if it was a commonly held belief that international football was paramount.

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Yes, there does need to be an acceptance from the media that perhaps England’s stars don’t hold international football with as much importance as they do club football – and isn’t that correct? Manchester United pays Rooney, not the FA. Will England compensate David Moyes or force a rule break of the transfer market to accommodate United if Rooney is lost to injury while on injury duty? It doesn’t really need an answer, does it?

There has been plenty of discussion as to why England’s players can’t perform to their max or replicate their club form when representing the national team. All the questions are aimed elsewhere instead of looking closer to home. Maybe the coaching isn’t right (it isn’t), maybe England don’t have a player who can dictate the tempo of a game like a Xavi or Andrea Pirlo (they don’t, at least they haven’t realised).

But if a player is injured, then there needs to be an acceptance of it. Not a volley of criticism and a questioning of how legitimate the injury is or whether he can still be of use. Yes, I’m sure Rooney, one of the Premier League’s best paid, will be happy to lay out the cones and put together the end-of-training refreshments.

But on top of that, is it such an unspeakable horror that most players, like fans, maybe don’t care too much about international football? There’s being patriotic, and that’s fine. But take a look at the fixtures throughout a domestic season and maybe some are happy to see the arrival of an international break, especially when it signals a week of the ultimate in pointless football – an international friendly.

Why isn’t there more of a campaign or criticism towards international governing bodies for putting together these fixtures and disrupting the domestic calendar? How can the same media who criticised Rooney champion the Premier League as the best product and then immediately begin a witch hunt when players start to underperform due to fatigue?

But of course, there is the option of sacrificing England’s best forward in a pair of fixtures in which the rest of the England team should gain maximum points, only to then jeopardise his involvement in the World Cup next year. We can talk about how great football is, but it doesn’t always make sense, does it?

Were the English media right to criticise Wayne Rooney during the international break?

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