Paul Scholes has recently come out and said Wayne Rooney could have already passed his peak. He also mentioned that to get the very best from him he should stay up top. Centre forward. Not bother to run back. Simply do what he should be doing – scoring goals.
But you don’t have to tell Rooney that. The striker spoke to the English press before Scholes’ blunt blog post and agreed there would be no excuses should he fail to perform this summer on the biggest stage of them all.
The 28-year-old has so far failed to make a real mark on the World Cup, bar a footprint on Ricardo Carvalho’s genitalia, and with this perhaps the last tournament before he really is passed his peak, starring in Brazil is likely to be the only chance Roo has to secure a legacy as a truly great player.
Obviously, given the tumultuous events at Old Trafford this season that culminated in the departure of David Moyes he hardly heads into Brazil on the back of a sparkling season.
Rooney also missed the last three games of the campaign with a groin injury. But after some extra fitness training in Portugal, before joining up with his teammates in the Algarve, he believes – for the first time – he’s fit and raring to go for the World Cup.
Leading up to both the 2006 and 2010 tournaments, Rooney has been plagued by injury concerns; and despite an impressive goal scoring record for the Three Lions, he has failed to register a solitary strike in the biggest football tournament of them all.
Goals aren’t something England are short of though, which Scholes was also quick to point out. The likes of Sturridge, Sterling, Welbeck and Lambert have all reached double figures in the domestic campaign just ended, so the pressure is on Rooney to perform or perhaps even face the prospect of being dropped to the bench.
Scholes said, “I’m not saying Wayne needs to be dropped but if form doesn’t get up to scratch in the warm-ups, or in the first game of the World Cup, it’ll be interesting to see if the England management team has the balls to make that decision.”
There is more to Wayne Rooney than goals though. A quick glance at Wayne Rooney World Cup odds show that’s he’s the favourite English players to finish top scorer, but his leadership skills and experience will also play an integral part if England are to do anything in South America.
He’s captained United on a number of occasions and recently said that he’d like to take on the captaincy full-time as the club part company with current skipper, Nemanja Vidic. Alongside Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard he’s one of the few experienced players left in Hodgson’s revamped Three Lions squad and the nation needs him at his best.
Whether he can inspire the young guns to progress through an already difficult group will become apparent during the next few weeks. But Rooney has a lot to prove this summer, whether that be setting his World Cup record straight or impressing Van Gaal enough to ensure he remains top dog at Old Trafford.
We’ve had the injuries, the sending offs, the tantrums. Now let’s see the goals. Over to you, Wayne.