Gareth Southgate’s England team deployed an impressive, high-pressing game at a decent tempo against Spain in their last international.
If that’s to be the norm, and I hope it is as using the pace and stamina of England’s attacking players (Daniel Sturridge aside of course) is a rare recent example of playing to their strengths, then it’s one more reason to get shot of Wayne Rooney (right).
Rooney was hanging on to his place in the national squad as much as a figurehead and a role model for the younger players, as for his ability, but as he’s now brought the England captaincy into disrepute with his drunken antics he should be bombed out forthwith.
Rooney is 31, his pace has gone and his stamina is more suspect than ever. He should be looking after his body not shoving red wine into it on a night-long bender when there’s a training session a few hours later.
At his age he should also know that, however well-intentioned he was when agreeing to selfies with members of the public, they were always going to land in the inbox of grateful, scandal-hungry journalists. In fact the real villain in all of this is the member of public who betrayed a private moment by flogging the pics.
But the episode proved a level of stupidity you wouldn’t want in an England skipper, something Southgate will surely take into account when he names his next squad. He will also be aware that Rooney’s slide in form has left him unable to break into another dreadful Manchester United side.
Maybe Rooney saw England’s future tactics won’t suit his frustrating ability to slow a game down and decided to down his sorrows on that fateful night.
Rooney’s behaviour did turn into a fascinating slanging match on social media between the players’ mates in the game (Gary Lineker, Gary Neville) and national newspapermen defending their right to publish stories of interest to the general public.
Obviously the good men from the Mail and the Sun won the argument because it is completely indefensible for an England captain to be pictured enjoying a bender on the eve of a training session.
That’s the real/only issue here. The rest is just froth, spin and an attempt to confuse by making ridiculous assertions our national press love nothing better than to bring our sporting heroes down to earth.
It’s not true, but they are brave and free enough to pursue the biggest names in the interest of truth. The tenacious pursuit of foul-mouthed bike rider Bradley Wiggins is confirmation of that.
I like Rooney. He gave his all for England and for his clubs in over 700 appearances. But he was a top player rather than a great one. His failure to influence major international tournaments (in a good way) is a major blot on a worthy career.