Should He Play Or Not — The Rooney Conundrum
Wayne Rooney is sure to board the flight from Heathrow to Paris. On announcing his provisional Euro 2016 squad, Roy Hodgson has stressed that Rooney is not a guaranteed starter in France. I do hope hope Roy sticks to his word. But hey, this is England’s leading goal scorer we are talking about!
For years, England has failed on the grand stages. The team has been filled with experienced boots but gets knocked out early. This has been the story of England’s football team. The most refreshing factor about England’s qualifiers for Euro 2016 was the talent and vigor of youth. Roy Hodgson had taken a bold approach to sent the kids out. And they did pay him back with 10 wins out of 10. Rooney was a crucial part in the run up to that. But things have been on the slide for the England captain since. Injuries, poor form and criticism has hit him hard. At a time when his club and country needed him the most, Rooney has had one of the most disappointing seasons of his career.
Wayne Rooney no longer England’s top striker — Alan Shearer
Harry Kane & Jaime Vardy
With Rooney injured, there was opportunity. Two players who put their hand up are Harry Kane and Jaime Vardy — two of the hottest English strikers at the moment. Both front-men are playing at the top of their game. In Harry Kane, you have the Primer League’s golden boot winner. Kane has followed up his fabulous form from last season. He has been at the heart of everything that Tottenham has done. Kane has taken his game from strength to strength.
Jaime Vardy has been instrumental in guiding Leicester to league glory. His confidence is sky high — a trait that is instrumental for a striker. His outing in the friendly against Germany saw him score a fine goal past Manuel Neuer. The duo has scored 49 goals across the season. While Kane is absolute class, Vardy is the real poacher. They would complement the team well. England should play two strikers upfront, and these two should start.
Ahem Daniel Sturridge
Liverpool’s front man is without a doubt one of the finest strikers in the league. Class, clinical and talent makes Daniel Sturridge the perfect striker. That is, if he stays on the pitch. Sturridge’s injury problems has been covered much. Jurgen Klopp has used him judiciously on his return. If anything, Hodgson must be grateful to Klopp. The German has ensured Sturridge stayed hungry by not throwing him straightaway into the playing eleven. Divock Origi was preferred upfront. When Sturridge was called, he was hungry. He wanted to make a statement to the gaffer, supporters and critics alike. He has done just that. The Liverpool striker should be Hodgson’s go-to-man. The impact sub. Sturridge’s striker instincts and positioning makes him a nuisance for defenders. In fact Roy should cover him up in a bubble wrap and take him to France. England needs Daniel Sturridge.
3 strikers down, and here comes your captain, Wayne Rooney
You see how Rooney has fallen down the order. If he gets selected, it will be on his rich past and experience. There is the saying that you are one goal away from regaining it. Rooney has had a few games since his return from injury. His form was found wanting. Football is a game which needs in form players. There are talks of Rooney playing behind the two strikers — the role that Dele Ali has played to perfection for Tottenham. The likes of Eric Dier, Danny Drinkwater and Adam Lallana have been sound performers for their clubs this season. Ross Barkley has been a shining light in an under performing Everton team. Then there are the experienced boots of James Milner and Jordan Henderson. Among that, I find it hard to accept a midfield role for Rooney.
Roy Hodgson knows Euro 2016 is make or break for him. Send the kids out, and you would have tried to make a statement of bold and fearless football. Send Rooney and fail, Hodgson will be fired and that might just be the end Wayne Rooney’s outing in national colours. I might sound unreasonably harsh about England’s captain. But I’ve been a die hard supported of the Three Lions since Michael Owen lit up by WC 98. The years since have all been disappointment. Winning might be hard, but I would like to see them go far into the tournament. With Rooney leading the attack, I am very much pessimistic. Do take him to France. But he should not be starting for the Three Lions.
The decision is yours Roy. No pressure.