Wayne Rooney is a fan favourite at Manchester United and has been a consistently prolific player for his club for as long as anyone can remember. For England, Rooney is the first name on the team-sheet and opposition teams identify him as the main threat in a Three Lions shirt. For anyone who was unlucky enough to witness England half-heartedly beat Denmark last Wednesday, however, it is blindingly clear that Rooney's presence in the national side is doing more damage than good.
There is no denying Rooney's footballing abilities, but when it comes to representing his country, he has never really lived up to expectation. Who can forget his frustrated outburst towards the jeering fans as England failed to beat Algeria at the 2010 World Cup? It seems as if Rooney is included for his reputation and not for his international form. Subsequently, the team is built around him, though it's similar to building a footpath around a black hole.
As we saw against Denmark, the in-form Daniel Sturridge was forced to play out wide and proved largely ineffective. When Rooney came off and the Liverpool man moved into a central role, however, he scored and won England the game. A coincidence? I think not. Wazza has scored for England, in fact, he is our country's 5th highest goalscorer of all time, but his all round game is fairly predictable and with the next generation of players coming into the side, perhaps it is time for Rooney to step aside or at the very least earn his place.
With the wealth of attacking talent England possess, it is unclear as to why Roy Hodgson has not decided to try different combinations as the likes of Andy Carroll, Rickie Lambert, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck allow for a potentially great 'big man, little man' duo. Another possibility is for Sturridge to lead the line in between Adam Lallana, the Ox or Sterling, with Gerrard, Wilshere and possibly Ross Barkley in midfield. In fact, there are so many exciting possibilities that don't include Rooney that it is almost mouthwatering.
Although the game against Denmark was only a friendly, it would have been nice to see a little more desire from some of the boys, especially from those who seem to believe their position is a certainty. The hardest working players were quite clearly Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Steven Gerrard, but other than that, the side showed less enthusiasm than the man who kindly served me my hot dog at half-time. Because of Wayne Rooney's constant inclusion, it appears that he has relaxed slightly and in the Denmark game in particular, he was slow, uninterested and at times, seemingly invisible.
In case this is unclear, Wayne Rooney should still go to the World Cup this year, of course he should, he is a talented player and even the likes of Lionel Messi struggle at international level. However, until Hodgson has left him out and tested a fast paced and creative side without Rooney disrupting this, then it will never be clear how well England can really play and unfortunately, the Manchester United forward will never learn to earn his place.
When the World Cup comes around this summer, hopefully England will field a creative, fast paced side and if that happens to include a rejuvenated Wayne Rooney, then so be it. Unfortunately, the way things are going, I wouldn't get my hopes up.
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