Wayne Rooney: Why Striker Will Be to Blame If England Falls Short of Glory
Look, I'm not usually one to kick somebody while they are already down, but in the case of England's star striker Wayne Rooney, I think there can be some wiggle room.
The specific play that earned him initially a three-game suspension (later reduced to two) was a completely boneheaded maneuver by Rooney where he lost his temper after being unable to control a bouncing ball played right at his feet.
Late in a qualifying match against Montenegro, with England up 2-1, Rooney was looking to initiate contact with an intentional foul after he was unable to control a bouncing ball that was put right in his direction.
The thing is, that was a routine play for someone of Rooney's stature and chances are that this ball would be converted 9/10 times. Thus, I believe that even he was surprised by how poor his initial touches on the ball were, and became instantly irate.
What preceded the turnover in just the blink of an eye was really what may have cost England a chance at the hardware in this year's European Championships.
After Rooney lost this touch, in a desperate attempt to slow down the Montenegro player that received the rouge ball, he swiped at the defender Miodrag Dzudovic's calf and struck him with his cleat.
This act out of sheer frustration seems to suit the demeanor of Rooney, but because of this play that could have been easily avoided, England is without their star for yet another contest against Sweden on Friday.
While the squad was able to play to a draw in their match against rival France, it was clear they were quite uncomfortable playing against a quick French team with so many attacking weapons.
This may not be the case when they take on Sweden because obviously they and the French are two completely different teams.
However, in order for thm to generate offense, they really need Rooney's presence on the pitch rather than dressed up sitting on the bench.
Without Rooney though is how the team will have to compete in the next match against Sweden and even if they are not quite up to par with skill of the French, it's certainly not an contest that should be taken lightly by the English.
After falling to the division-leading Ukrainian team, the Swedes need to emerge victorious in order to stay afloat in this tournament and they should come out focused as their run could be decided by just 90 minutes .
The team is seemingly unraveling in a similar fashion to the French's epic collapse in the last World Cup, after manager Erik Hamren called out his team and tagged them as "cowards."
But the Swedish squad has always perplexed the English in competitive play, holding the favored squad to draws at both the 2006 and 2002 World Cups and defeating them 2-1 in the 1992 Euros.
On the other hand, England manager Roy Hodgson was successful in his international debut, but ultimately his squad lacked the firepower without Rooney up front that would have been necessary to pull off the upset.
Who will emerge victorious?
The Englist actually have the third youngest lineup in all of the tournament, however, if they want to advance past the opening round, they will need Rooney to show up and play.
He will be available for the team’s third and final game of the opening round when they take on Ukraine, and he will need to be spectacular to make up for his boneheaded maneuver that got him put in the doghouse in the first place.
But will England hold on, record the victory against Sweden and make it to the Ukrainian match with a chance at qualifying for the next round?
With Rooney on the pitch, I would be rather comfortable at answering this question with a yes. However, he will again be unavailable while his Swedish counterpoint in Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to take the field and work his own magic.
This game shall probably be a tightly contested match that probably will be decided by just a goal or two. Sweden will be forced, with a below-average roster, to play their star in Ibrahimovic at midfielder, with him dropping back far too often to play defense. England should be satisfied to come away with a victory at any costs, even if it is by just by the skin of their teeth for they will be in a good position to advance if they can get three points against the Swedes.
If they cannot and are yet again plagued by a lack of offensive drive, I think the five seconds of that fateful match against Montenegro where superstar Rooney lost his cool will have something to do with that.
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