Written by David Robinson
England have won their opening World Cup qualifier, in what was Sam Allardyce’s first game in charge. It took a last gasp winner from Adam Lallana, his first international goal to seal the three points on what is meant to be the hardest game on paper, according to the rankings. Regardless of this I thought nothing had changed from a dysmal Euro 2016 campaign. The Three Lions shared a 0-0 draw with Slovakia in the group stages there and it looked to be heading the same way with the opposition content with purely defending. You couldn’t blame them as well, England still had a lack of invention and quality to break them down although they did hit the post and come close on a couple of occasions. Lallana spared Big Sam his blushes though with a late finish that has ultimately got England off to a 100% record early on. While this is of course a positive, there were more negatives than anything in my opinion. Changes are still needed to be made, I focus in on a huge factor, the England captain, Wayne Rooney…
He’s always the subject to discussion and a lot of the time in a negative fashion, a point that I often I believe to be harsh because there is no doubting Rooney has been a good player for over a decade, quite an achievement in itself. While his international career may not have been a massive success, he is the nations leading all time scorer and now the most capped outfield player in Three Lions history. That of course is a very good achievement. However what does the future hold for Wayne Rooney in an England shirt?
The 30 year old announced he will retire from international duty after the World Cup in 2018. He has retained the Captain’s armband by Allardyce and looks set to feature as a key figure under his new boss. The opening qualifier saw the skipper operate effectively as a midfielder even though he was meant to be deployed behind the striker. This hindered the side in my opinion, Rooney dropped far too deep making the midfield more compressed and with less numbers in the box, Slovakia remained comfortable defending with the ball in front of them for the whole game. Maybe not an issue had Rooney been dominating the midfield but his play was sloppy and had little penetration despite the risks he is willing to take. This was a familiar theme in the Iceland game although in fairness, it has to be said, he impressed in both the Russia and Wales games. On the other hand hand this is an indicator that Rooney’s place in the side should be questioned, without a doubt.
His season as a whole for Manchester United in the build up to France was unconvincing and his past performances for England haven’t inspired which does not breed much confidence going forwards. With Rooney’s persistence on dropping deep, something that Allardyce has said he doesn’t deem an issue, you can only help but feel worried that the problems within the National Team will continue. Changes have to be made and this is a big one up for contention. Does Rooney actually contribute enough to make himself one of the first names on the team sheet? I personally think not.
I’m always a believer that England should not look to the future and should pick the best side for the here and now. While I think Rooney should feature and has something to offer I do think his removal from the starting eleven could actually enhance England’s chances, particularly from a tactical point of view. Then on this occasion, with Russia 2018 in mind, he is surely not going to be good enough then, that being from the point of view that he is indeed good enough now.
What should Allardyce do with Rooney? Let us know in the comments below!