The main reason for England’s defeat last night will not be debated – it never is – namely, a press campaign revolving around Wayne Rooney. This was good for Rooney but bad for the camp. No other national media is so obsessed with individuals.We were once with Gascoigne and now with Rooney. In other countries’ media, tactics are at the head of agenda. It was ever thus: I recall a similar campaign to get Stan Bowles in the side of Don Revie for a qualifying match v Italy. Revie succumbed. We lost 2-0. Terry Venables’ side was virtually picked by his coterie of London journalists. They won nothing.
The thrust of the campaign was if you play Rooney, play him in his best role. Normally the words “he is our only world class player” are then added. My definition of a world class is a player that would be chosen in a world 11. There are only three midfield central places on offer, which I reduce to two as Rooney is not a holding player and one for the “man-in-the -hole” position he covets. Is it seriously suggested he would play ahead of Messi, Aguerro, Thomas Muller, Ozil, Hazard, or Pirlo? I doubt if Jose Mourinho will choose him ahead of Oscar, Marchisio, Fabregas for a European 11.
We played Italy with verve, pace, adventure. Against Uruguay we were back in our strait jackets with little movement and not hitting an ageing side where it hurt: running at them. Costa Rica managed this with a bit part Arsenal player.
Sir Alf Ramsay was the only England manager to win anything. He regarded the press as fools. He is still right.