Forget thinking the unthinkable; it’s time to speak the unspeakable.
As Wayne Rooney sits out yet another international weekend, an amnesty on honest thinking should be declared to allow every England fan to make the most of it and say as one, “It’s time to drop the curtain on the Manchester United striker’s International career."
Assessing Rooney’s performances in the No. 3 Lions shirt is like trying to size up two parallel universes. Through qualifying tournaments he bullies his way past moderate opposition.
Meanwhile, the UK media tremble with teeth-chattering angst at any fresh Rooney injury. But why on earth do they do this? It’s wholly unnecessary. Because once he gets into the big arena, he’s a flop.
Meanwhile, witness last week’s Moldovan mismatch and even the draw against Ukraine: Tom Cleverly showed plenty of encouraging embryonic touches in the role just "off" the front man, demonstrating that English eyes are—finally—on a "new breed" vanguard for Rio 2014.
No doubt the shrinking band of Wayne’s World supporters will cite Cleverly’s miss in front of the Ukrainian goal—yes, he should have scored, but he was in position and he came back for more moments later.
And the reasons to be cheerful don’t end with Cleverly. The regular "Jermain Defoe plays, Jermain Defoe scores" equation was yet again proven—against Moldova and against Ukraine (plus referee)—and with it, another telling avenue to quell the tiresome “Rooney absence” furore.
Should England drop Rooney?
But it’s not just Rooney’s blank-firing armoury that condemns him. Relatively little detailed mileage is ever afforded his highly suspect temperament. Indeed, the opposite is true: Following the petulant and potentially damaging shin-kick at his Montenegrin opponent in the final Euro 2012 qualifier, things instead were flipped entirely on their head by his army of apologists.
The FA made an embarrassing "defend the indefensible" appeal to try and save their "treasure" from his richly deserved and lenient two-game ban. We, the fans, were expected to receive the player’s crocodile tears apology as a munificent gesture worthy of side-stepping a ban (would that he were so effective in the box). The only thing missing was an apology from FIFA for having dared to so grievously infringe his honour.
The next damning exhibit is his cowardly elbow to the face of Wigan’s James McCarthy—undisputed but unpunished—followed by his obscene corner-flag rant at the TV camera following a game with West Ham in which he moaned at fans and the world in general.
Why doesn’t he just swap T-shirts with that other serial victim, Mario Balotelli? Rooney’s delightful cameo to camera was played down by officialdom and a media collectively obsequious and anxious not to offend the "golden boy" or his boss at Old Trafford.
His behaviour and his form are evidence enough of the need for England to say “good bye,” but if anyone is in doubt, let’s now reach that point where the whole tiresome Rooney sideshow is separated from a desire for the national team to succeed.
He’s nearly 27, and in dubious physical condition from month to month, year to year. A constant television diet of his overhead goal strike against Manchester City is meant to make us think that’s how he performs every time he steps on the pitch. But the sad, lamentable truth could not be further away.
"What of his 29 international goals?!" comes the cry. Well, what of them?
With a team sheet of Daniel Sturridge (scoring hatfuls of goals at his first real opportunity on loan at Bolton) as well as Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverly and Jack Wilshere, all under the steadying eye of a Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, I would relish viewing the England path ahead without a constant diet of the Rooney soap opera.
Wayne Rooney should be retired to the England history books. To even mention him in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi is as likening a bug to a skyscraper. Internationally, it’s the major tournaments that matter. Should you have even the slightest doubt of his feebly anonymous overall input to them, I refer you to a critique in the UK’s Daily Telegraph—written even before Euro 2012 debacle.
It’s not Lampard and Gerrard who clog the arteries of England’s future heartbeat; it’s Wayne Rooney—overrated, over-tolerated and overdue for the push.
For Rooney, it’s TOWIE: "The only way is exit."