Why Jose Mourinho and Roy Hodgson have to overlook Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney’s time may be up (Picture: Getty)As the final whistle blew to confirm Manchester United as FA Cup winners against Crystal Palace on Saturday, the players rushed to congratulate captain Wayne Rooney.But the victory represents little more than a hollow success for the 30-year-old England skipper, just as it did for manager Louis van Gaal, who instantly faced reports he had been replaced by Jose Mourinho.And the Portuguese ‘Special One’ will join Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson in facing a crossroads over England’s talisman this summer.The truth is, Rooney may still wear the armband both club and country, but he no longer deserves to start for either side.It is the reality no-one wants, or yet dares, to admit.Jose Mourinho could face tough decisions over Rooney At times during the cup final it was difficult to tell which was louder – the cheers of Wembley’s 90,000 capacity crowd or the desperate clamour from the media to turn Wayne Rooney into Paul Scholes within the space of six games.
Yes, Rooney did produce a slaloming run to set up Juan Mata’s equaliser – driving past players in his new midfield role, but this is the basic expectation of a player in that position, not something exceptional and worthy of the otherworldly praise.Wayne Rooney is being overhyped in his midfield role following the FA Cup final (Picture: Getty)Certainly nothing to justify comparisons with Scholes, perhaps the best English attacking midfielder of the last 20 years.Or at least, not normally, but this is Wayne Rooney we are talking about.England’s national obsession with the star has long transcended his actual performances, instead lost in the illusion of what his Euro 2004 breakthrough represented – a working class hero who backed up English bulldog passion with (gain fifa 16 coins) potential world-class quality.Timid off the pitch, but a sharp tongued lion on it – the player, like Gasgoine before him – embodies English football for better and worse.
This identity is why, from the outset, pundits and commentators have willed the Red Devil to succeed in his deeper role. All the while conveniently forgetting this move was forced upon Van Gaal precisely because the striker could no longer compete up front.And so it continued this weekend. BBC pundit Alan Shearer was tasked with manning the hype machine during pre-match build up at Wembley, revealing Rooney had told him he’d long been waiting to move to midfield.Match commentator Martin Keown similarly talked up Rooney’s ‘effort’ on the pitch, turning a blind eye to his sloppy passing and mistimed tackles – particularly on Yohan Cabaye – borne from faltering pace and suspect composure.All this overly positive encouragement is of course aimed at giving Hodgson a selection headache at next month’s European Championship. Surely he have to start Rooney, his captain, England’s all-time leading goalscorer, in midfield, right?
Rooney does not deserve a starting place ahead of Dele Alli and other young stars (Picture: Getty)Absolutely not. There is no time for sentimentality in international tournament football, nor for Rooney to ‘grow into’ his new position, particularly given the English talents that have emerged this season.It would be simply offensive to discard one of Danny Drinkwater, Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli and Jack Wilshere, players who have built careers in that position, in favour of a striker-turned-midfielder, based purely on reputation.And let’s face it, this reputation for the national side is dubious.