England’s Euro 2012 odds of a positive result in their decisive Group D game against Ukraine tonight have been boosted by the return of Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney, with a nation’s hopes and dreams firmly planted on the talented forward’s shoulders. With the Three Lions only needing a draw to progress, the Red Devils talisman should give the side an added thrust in attack, and is most likely to start up front with club team-mate Danny Welbeck. Can Rooney lead Roy Hodgson’s men to the latter stages of the tournament in Ukraine and Poland? And is too much expected of the returning forward?
There is a case in question to say that Rooney is England’s only real world-class player, and as such the national team have started to rely on their star. As with any team, national or club, over-dependence on a single player can be a risky business. A key example if former United hero Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal; the Iberian nation seem to click when he is on form, with other players not playing to their potential when the Real Madrid man has an off day.
There has been a feeling emanating from the England camp that the squad has been holding on slightly until Rooney could play once more, with many of the players and fans alike just eager to still be in the qualifying reckoning when their best player returned; Hodgson himself has called Rooney England’s Pele. Although Rooney’s inclusion will aid England due to his ability, Hodgson and his team must remember that they have ascertained positive results against France and Sweden without the forward, and as such should not change their style of play or approach too drastically now that Rooney is back in the line-up.
Football fans expect miracles, but the Three Lions faithful must remember that Rooney has not played a competitive fixture in over a month. That said, if England can create chances and gilt-edge opportunities for the returning hero, there is no better man to convert and fire the side through to the quarter-finals.
If England do overcome Ukraine and make the knockout rounds expectancy over the nation’s chances will start to increase, despite a dose of realism surrounding the squad before the tournament kicked off. Rooney’s return is only going to add to this, but England must continue to operate as a team rather than solely depend on the forward for inspiration or to provide a piece of magic.
With some of the world’s best teams and players competing in eastern Europe this summer it is fitting that Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney join them. He can be the difference between success and failure and his inclusion should be a morale boost for the rest of the players. That said, the team need to continue to play as they have been to overcome Ukraine and from there England can start to dream of Rooney helping them to European glory.
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.