Wayne Rooney Slams Paul Scholes, Gary Neville Attacks Media over England Notes

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2014

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JUNE 07:  Wayne Rooney and assistant coach Gary Neville of England walk off at the end of the International Friendly match between England and Honduras at the Sun Life Stadium on June 7, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Wayne Rooney's bravado isn't going to diminish any time soon, even as the 2014 FIFA World Cup commences. Rooney has hit back at criticism of his performances from outspoken former teammate Paul Scholes.

The two played together at Manchester United, but that didn't stop Scholes from chiding Rooney for what he sees as a dip in form in recent seasons, per his blog for Paddy Power.

Rooney, naturally growing tired at the number of dissenting voices in recent seasons, provided an emphatic answer to Scholes, via Sky Sports:

I'm sure he's upset a lot of people at Man United because they see me as worthy of signing a new deal at the club, so they obviously have got a different opinion to what Paul has.

It was a bit strange, I'll be honest, but he has his opinions and he's entitled to them.

I don't agree with it, but he's probably the best player I've ever played with, so I'm not going to knock him as a player, but I don't agree with his point.

I'm sure he has his reasons for it.

Rooney's rebuttal is hardly likely to change Scholes' mind. The former Red Devils schemer is already championing a prospect he likens to Rooney.

Scholes believes Everton's dynamic midfielder Ross Barkley should start England's opening match against Italy, per his Paddy Power column:

I was watching the England vs. Ecuador friendly in an airport lounge, a bit back from the screen. In the first half Barkley went on a run and I thought, 'Bloody hell, is that Rooney?.'

Barkley made me think of Wayne at Euro 2004. I had to take a second look because I thought it was Wayne. Barkley has no fear.

Scholes' words strike at the heart of an intriguing dilemma facing England at this tournament. Manager Roy Hodgson has tried to refresh the international ranks by opening doors to players like Barkley, Liverpool's Raheem Sterling and Southampton's Luke Shaw.

It is a risky but necessary transition. The only problem is that tournaments aren't generally the place for transition.

Establishing the right blend between experience and youth is often a key factor in success. It's one many, including Daily Mirror writer John Cross, feel Hodgson might have ignored:

Rebuking criticism and displaying confidence has been Rooney's recent mantra in press conferences. He's also taken a swipe at another former teammate, Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, per Daily Mail reporter Neil Ashton.

But deep down Rooney knows that his performances will be under far greater scrutiny than his words. He has been moved out of the middle in recent matches, a tactical ploy he has not always embraced.

This England squad needs Rooney confident and firing in Brazil. Otherwise, Hodgson's men will fail to make any meaningful impact.

At least Rooney's words may provide a distraction from the other main talking point currently surrounding England. The incident involves coach Gary Neville letting himself be photographed carrying detailed notes of England's tactical preparations.

Daily Mail writer Christian Gysin was quick to report what he calls a "blunder":

It was a blunder more normally associated with politicians arriving in Downing Street.

On the eve of the World Cup, after weeks of painstaking closed training sessions, England coach Gary Neville may just have given the game away.

The former Manchester United star was photographed carrying what appeared to be coaching instructions for the England team—ahead of  their eagerly awaited opening World Cup clash against Italy on Saturday night.

Neville has wisely moved quickly to slap down this non-event. He used Twitter to remind media outlets there are more pressing stories ongoing:

Neville is right to put the focus on Rooney. Despite the emergence of young hopefuls like Barkley, Rooney is still England's best player.

The spotlight isn't going to drift off of him at any point during England's foray in this World Cup.