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Top Journo Amazed By The Bile Rooney Attracts

Speaking to RoM for the World Cup preview, Sam Wallace, the chief football writer at The Independent, has discussed at length the importance of Wayne Rooney to England.

It never ceases to amaze how much bile he attracts. You might say Rooney’s curse was to be born English at the wrong time. There are so few others in his generation who have got close to being at his level and to push the group of players older than them. Look at the age profile of the current squad and those in and around Rooney’s age – he is 28, and turns 29 in October. It is only Leighton Baines (29), Gary Cahill (28) and James Milner (28). Between them those three have 92 caps (as of the Peru game). Rooney has 90 on his own. The issue is not the quality of Rooney – he is a very good footballer – the brutal truth is that we should have been able to produce more who are as good as him.

That said, of course he is important to England. There is already a debate in the Sunday papers post-Peru over whether he should be dropped, although I feel that owes more to the lack of meaty issues elsewhere. The Peru game was his first since 26 April so, to my mind, it is too early for that. He has done his best to get ready for this tournament, which at least shows he has learned from previous mistakes.

Rooney feels like the last of a generation of a certain type of English player. If you grew up in England at whatever level you watched or played the game, you will have encountered the Rooney type. He is the big, strong boy with the best touch on the pitch and a great shot. He is capable of ‘affecting games’ – as the modern coach-speech has it – and he has a few reliable old tricks up his sleeve which he rolls out to great effect.
t was interesting that Sir Alex Ferguson noted in his new autobiography that Rooney found it difficult to absorb new concepts when he was coached and generally fell back on what he knew best. Even allowing for their mutual bitterness, you could see his point. Rooney’s optimum time for England was the 2006 World Cup finals when he was coming nicely to maturity after two years at United and was still young enough and fresh enough. That tournament blew up horribly on the back of injury and I feel that, for England, he has been chasing his losses since then.

That said, he is probably going to break Bobby Charlton’s 49-goal international record which has stood for four decades. There is a reason why it has lasted so long when generally the trend in sport is for records to fall. It’s because it’s a bloody good return on an international career. I imagine there will be much handwringing at the end of Rooney’s England years as his many critics try to reconcile his big haul of goals with what will, in all likelihood, be very little tournament success. My argument would be that, for all his own faults, he has not been blessed with a great supporting cast.

As for being the last of a generation, my impression is that English football, with its vast investment in youth development, will turn out fewer players like Rooney, with his Saturday-night-on-the-high-street temper and his fuck-you attitude. The new academy system and EPPP may well be a success for the big clubs but like the English public school system it will turn out a certain type. And it won’t be the type that thinks a cigarette in the pool is tournament preparation.

Sam also discusses England’s chances, the inclusion of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, Roy Hodgson’s ability to do the job, amongst other things. Get the RoM World Cup preview for just £4 and get the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that you are donating to the Trafford Macmillan Wellbeing Centre.

Follow @SamWallace on Twitter.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Tommy says:

    Cant agree with the hes got the best first touch on the pitch comment, ive felt hes never had a great first touch but now its at its worst. Thats what the media in this country do, they will big him up and when England go out they will be knock you dowm. Rooney has to start, cant believe people are questioning that when the reserve players are pub players (Lambert), their really is not that many great strikers, I remember in the 90s England had Shearer, Sheringham, Les Ferdinand, Andy Cole, Blobey Fowle, Iam Wright to choose from amongst others now compare it to the shit forwardsn at their dispossel now, theirs just no compeitition ffor places, like @Neil has pointed out, worst England side any of us can remember

  2. ashtheking says:


    I think 2010 side was more bad. Heskey playing was a joke. Defoe another overrated striker. You know what’s funny is after every international tournament in last 6 years or so all the blame goes to Rooney. I ask what the fuck does the so called fake captain gerrard do. He is nothing great. He plays for himself. Always trying to protect his image. Never seen him lead from the front. Gerrard and lampard need to go now.

  3. Tommy says:


    Wasnt it Crouch playing then mate in 2010, I still think that team was better than this time. The England defence is awful, Johnson, Jagielka, cahil and Baines is rubbish, the midfield and attack is not much better, the bench is better than the starting 11 lol

  4. ashtheking says:


    Got to disagree mate. 2010 keeper green I suppose was pathetic , hart is better than both green and James. Defense was no good. Upson and terry combo sucked. Cahill for me is a decent defender. Baines is a tough lb unlike ash cole who acts like pussy when going gets tough. I still can’t get how that shit thing Johnson get a selected , ohh right gerrard is the fucking captain so no surprise. Attack this time is better buddy.heskey crouch and Defoe were joke. Sturidge and Rooney could do a lot of damage. Also exciting talents like welbeck, sterling and chamberlain are fun to watch. Maybe I am overrating the English side but I do feel if Rooney starts scoring then England cN go far.

  5. Dela says:

    If Rooney was still an Everton player there would be no suggestion of him being dropped, anywhere. Say what you like about him, there’s only a couple of players in the England setup who are as decorated as him. He has been close to the core of United’s success since that ’07 title, and that’s why he attracts so much bile from non-United fans. Of course, some of his own behavior means even United fans don’t look as favourably on him as we used to, but more often than not when he’s unavailable we suffer.

    I think his problem with England is sometimes he could be more greedy than he is. I think he’s very conscious of the fact that if he takes a shot from distance and it blasts over, the entire english crowd will be on his back and it will be a prominent note in the papers if England don’t go on to win.

  6. j sman says:

    I dont understand this negativity pointed towards one player. we haven’t even started the tournament and we are already criticizing him. I support England and want them to move forward but these negative comments, i am sure, get to him and will affect his mentality going into games. What we have to do is show our support like we did in the season and hopefully England can perform, with Rooney playing good and hopefully scoring. We may not be close to being the favorites but lets show we have some quality youngsters and that we can contend. Lets Have a great World Cup!

  7. Mirainashe says:

    The problem seems to be the English media love to rattle the cage and they love attention. It’s not Rooney’s problem that they overrate him. Don’t get me wrong,I think he is quite good, but they always make a fuss about him before every tournament as if they were talking about a Messi or something, then they are the first to crucify him as soon as England lose. It’s like he is supposed to dribble past the whole opposition team and score every game. Why don’t they talk about the coaching, the players around him. Last time it was Beckham, more it’s Rooney. The English media really gets on my nerves. They love Lampard,Gerrard and are always attacking United players and blaming them for England’s failures.


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