For years Wayne Rooney has been the dominating story of English football: some might say distracting even destructive are more accurate adjectives. Whether its his metatarsal fracture or contract negotiations with threats of leaving somehow this takes precedence over all.
The football press is far more interested in incident than tactics, so should Rooney be dropped is a juicy story to fill up the saturation coverage. Team Rooney will get into gear: favoured journos who have been given transfer stories will add fuel to the debate as well as “friends close to the star”. Roy Hodgson knows this would put huge pressure on the team. Talking to Alan Tanner who reminded me of the swift way Roy dispatched Jimmy Bullard out of Fulham, I am of the view that Roy would prefer life without Rooney but has settled on playing him but on Roy’s terms, i.e. out on the left. This shows that the team is not built around him.
If Rooney was any other player he would have been dropped or subbed . It’s true he contributed a teasing cross for the goal, but equally so that he missed a crucial one to one strike on goal and frequently left Baines exposed. He has never had a decent World Cup, not even scored a goal, but even such a luminary as John Motson advocated he played up front against Uruguay in place of the in-form Sturridge whose pace would surely trouble their creakily slow defence. On the same programme a fan rang in with the familiar mantra of building the team around him.
I wonder how the dressing room reacts to this. Perhaps Gerrard, Baines and Johnson – none of whom had auspicious games – are thankful the spotlight is elsewhere, but somehow I doubt it.
The media charade of double-speak will no doubt persist and perhaps Roy is hoping that the best solution is for Rooney to be injured or red-carded then the decision is made for him.