There seems to be a split among English fans, 50% believe the criticism is justified and the other 50% believe the media are wrong and that he is just coming back to fitness and yes he may have played poor in England’s friendly games but he is capable of brilliance at the World Cup.
Rooney has been excellent for Manchester United this season as he scored 17 goals in 29 starts, stats which you can’t argue against as it’s a good return especially in a poor Manchester United side.
However out of the 17 goals Rooney scored this season 3 were penalties and 3 were free kicks, take that away from Rooney and he has 11 goals. You won’t imagine he will be needed for free kicks or penalties with Gerrard and Baines in the side. Daniel Sturridge on the other hand scored 22 goals in the Premier League for Liverpool, that’s 11 more goals than Rooney scored in open play.
You can watch highlight programs and yes Rooney will look good, he will score goals run around like a mad man and you won’t notice a problem. However you watch 90 minutes of a football match and it’s a different story, which to me is why it’s no surprise that now Rooney is only just being slated in the media. English journalists will have watched the full 90 minutes of England’s World Cup warm up matches and seen the problems, whereas throughout the Premier League season the majority will have only seen a handful off Wayne Rooney’s games ‘live’.
He has been slated by a number of Manchester United fans throughout the season, he often breaks up attacks with his Hollywood balls to the wings (see below). He picks the below up in the ‘number 10′ role and just hits the ball into the wing and looks to run into the box, which Rene Meulensteen described as “straightforward” and “easy” to defend.
The likes of Barkley and Sterling pick the ball up and they run at defenders it causes teams all kinds of problems. If your on the back foot and looking to counter attack you need players in your side who are going to do that, attack at pace not just hit a square ball to the wing for the opposition to get back and defend as Rooney does time and time again.
Further more when you look at how many Long Balls Rooney attempted this season compared to Sterling, Lallana and Barkley its staggering (via whoscored.com)
If England want to play boring football that’s easy to defend against then by all means pick Rooney, if England want to frighten opposition then pick one of the other options they will run at defences and cause problems.
It has been well publicised the amount of crosses Manchester United attempted last season (999) more than any other team in the Premier League. The best ‘number 10s’ in the world will always look to receive the ball, always look to give an option to team mates. However Rooney will not. He will looking to get into the box at the first opportunity, leave wingers isolated and then stand, watch and hope, hence the high number of crosses at Old Trafford this season.
Being a Manchester United fan I can honestly say I have not been wowed by any of the performances from Wayne Rooney this season leading to the World Cup, and yes we all know he is capable of scoring world class goals but that does not mean he has played world class. You can easily remember games this season where Sterling and Barkley have got you out of your seat and excited but can you remember any similar moments for Rooney? No.
Rooney may score the odd goal at the World Cup, but I doubt he will be lighting up the stage. However Barkley and Sterling both have the potential to do just that.
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