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Wayne Rooney;

For over a decade England’s hopes in international tournaments have been on his shoulders.

Wayne Rooney must not be droppedWhen he burst onto the scene as a 16 year old with that debut goal for Everton the world was at his feet. However, 11 years on it wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that he hasn’t lived up to his potential.

Before this years World Cup dropping Wayne Rooney seemed impossible. Previous managers would rather resign than drop the English talisman. However, this time around Roy Hodgson has a team of youthful talent at his disposal. With the likes of Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana all having very good seasons, there’s been a recent debate on whether we even need Rooney in the starting line-up.
Wayne Rooney with England manager Roy Hodgson

The argument against Rooney is strong. Against Italy he was played out of position on the left hand side. Throughout the match he left Leighton Baines to have to deal with Antonio Candreva and Matteo Darmian alone which eventually resulted in Mario Balotelli’s winning goal. Moreover, while he did set up Sturridge’s goal with an inch perfect cross, it was Raheem Sterling who was more effective in that number 10 role behind the striker. He passed the through ball to set up Rooney’s cross and constantly terrorised the Italian defence. When Ross Barkley came on he too played well by running at the defence, something Rooney wasn’t doing.

Going on club form it wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that Rooney should be dropped. While he stood out in Manchester United’s team, they still had a horrendous season and Rooney only produced average statistics from a player of his quality. He netted 17 times this season while Sturridge scored 21 goals for Liverpool. Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling has also been in fantastic form for their clubs while playing behind the striker, dazzling players with their pace and skill.

However, an English team without Wayne Rooney seems very weak. He was England’s top goal scorer during qualifying with 7 goals and contributed 10 assists to United’s Premier League season. His natural talent is never in question. If you compare his stats with Cristiano Ronaldo’s stats during Rooney’s first two season with United, and you’ll find that Rooney scored more goals and created more assists.
Wayne Rooney and former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo

The problem has been where to play him. Throughout his career Rooney has suffered by being too good at multiple positions. Due to his work rate Alex Ferguson often deployed him on the wing when Ronaldo was hitting his best form at United. His versatility and ability meant that he could cover many positions well which has led to the dilemma that it’s Rooney who is sacrificed.

In his position as an forward there’s no doubt in his ability. The season after Cristiano Ronaldo left (2009-2010) Rooney scored 26 times in the league and 34 times overall. Two seasons later he replicated that goal scoring form, netting 27 times in the league and again 34 times overall. Therefore, it’s clear that he has the goal scoring ability in his locker.

When it comes to the question whether Rooney should be left out of England’s next game, the answer is simply no. He should lead the attack in the number 9 role. While Sturridge is a good player and has had a superb season, Rooney is the name countries fear and with good measure.

His ability is world class when he is played in his position. With a player like Ross Barkley sitting behind him and Sterling and Lallana on the wings, the English front four could be devastating. He has yet to score at any World Cup finals, this is the tournament in which he needs to break that record and show the world of his ability. Then again, the great Lionel Messi has only scored two goals.

Originally published at vivafootballcalcio.com

Post written by Chris Fotheringham, Twitter: @MrFotheringham
for VivaFootballCalcio, Blog: vivafootballcalcio.com, Twitter: @VivaFootCalcio

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