Steven Gerrard Hits out at Paul Scholes over Wayne Rooney Slur Before World Cup

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2014

England's Wayne Rooney takes a direct free kick watched by teammate Steven Gerrard during the international friendly soccer match between England and Denmark at Wembley stadium in London Wednesday, March  5,  2014. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

England captain Steven Gerrard has forcefully hit out at criticism levelled at team-mate Wayne Rooney by Manchester United legend Paul Scholes.

The Liverpool skipper believes Scholes is incorrect in his assessment that Rooney may have seen his best days pass him by.

Neil Henderson of the BBC tweeted the Sun's headline on the story:

John Cross of the Mirror reported on Gerrard's staunch defence of Rooney and his ability. He quotes Gerrard saying:

Paul Scholes is wrong. He has been Manchester United's best player at home and in Europe. He’s been in terrific form. What I’ve seen from his performances in the United team, his form has been really positive. He’s in a better frame of mind going into this tournament than he’s had going into previous tournament when he’s had injuries.

Scholes was very forthright in his opinion of Rooney, a player he has both played with and coached. The Ginger Prince shot from the hip when he said, per Jamie Jackson of The Guardian:

There’s a chance he’s worn out. Wayne’s peak may have been a lot younger than what we’d expect of footballers traditionally. Age 28 or 29 has been the normal "peak." With Wayne, it could have been when he scored 27 league goals in 2011-12 when he was 26.

Sang Tan/Associated Press

Scholes also criticised Rooney's management of his energies on the football pitch and questioned whether he has the capacity to form partnerships in attack, per Jackson. 

Despite United's disastrous season, Rooney still managed to post a good set of figures for the club. The 28-year-old hit 19 goals and 15 assists in his 38 appearances in the league and Europe, per, topping the team's stats. 

Gerrard and Rooney are likely to lead the England charge at the World Cup with many pundits advocating their leadership and worth. ESPN's Musa Okwonga recently tweeted about the use of the two players, naming them in his preferred starting line-up:

As important as Rooney is to the nation, Scholes is correct in his assessments. He has had a unique view of the player for many years, having been one of the senior characters in Rooney's football life.

Rooney has often failed to deliver on the biggest stages, and his below-par appearances at World Cup tournaments have been the highlight of this issue.

His will to win often outweighs his ability to take stock and tactically control a game. This is a huge shortcoming in Rooney's approach and Scholes is correct in his acknowledgement of this.

Gerrard is defending his international team-mate on the eve of one of the biggest challenges of both of their careers and should come as no surprise. However, if Rooney had become the player he had once promised to be, the question marks over him would not exist. 

Rooney does have a problem with forming partnerships in the centre-forward position and it will be interesting to see if Roy Hodgson sacrifices Daniel Sturridge to a wider role to accommodate him.

This could prove to be a catastrophic decision by Hodgson, but Rooney's influence in the squad almost dictates he will play as the striker. 

Scholes is a no-nonsense individual and Rooney should heed his words, and take any advice given to him by the former midfield genius.