The world can be very harsh and cutting on Wayne Rooney, one of the planet's most constantly scrutinised players.
Words like "scapegoat" and "witch-hunt" are regularly used in conjunction with Wazza when he has a less-than-perfect match, but just four months from his 29th birthday, time is running out for Wayne to silence his growing band of detractors.
Rooney has been sensational at times during his career, and there is little doubting that on past achievements he will be remembered for his exploits and magnificent goals.
But, in football, you can never stand still, and the Wayne Rooney of recent times has been treading water for far too long.
Rooney's place for both Manchester United and England is now under threat due to the malaise his general play often produces.
In business, if your performance levels consistently dip in the office, your bosses will notice and eventually promote the young buck from accounts who is hungry and wants your job.
Rooney is now at this figurative employment crossroads.
Yet it was Wazza who played the best ball of the game against Italy, a beautifully weighted cross from the left for Daniel Sturridge to equalise against the Italians—an all-too-brief display of his potential prowess.
But, for most of the match, there was only one word to describe his performance: average.
Football writers and commentators alike lined up on Twitter to have their say about Rooney's performance, with many making salient points about the golden boy of his generation:
However, there was one tweet that jumped out during Saturday night's proceedings. Oliver Kay of The Times tweeted a defence of Rooney being played on the left:
And that tweet is what Wayne Rooney has become all about.
He was slightly better than "adequate." What happened to him being outstanding?
When did it become acceptable for a player who is on £300,000 per week to hover around being adequate?
Rooney was not playing as a left-winger against Italy—he was playing on the left side of a 4-2-3-1 formation that gave him licence to get into the opposition's box and utilise his famed work rate, which is allegedly superior to the younger Raheem Sterling.
Tactically it was not something Rooney should have had a problem with, but he showed that his engine is not what it once was and that perhaps he does not have the motivation to be the driven player we once all knew and loved.
Rooney probably won't be dropped for the remainder of England's campaign in Brazil, but he is currently doing his level best to give his critics a big stick to beat him with.
Form is temporary and class is permanent. But the only thing fans care about is that you produce your best form on the nights that matter, and Rooney struggles to do that when other top players do it consistently.
While club team-mate Robin van Persie stepped out of his own personal injury misery to explode for his country at a World Cup—scoring a header for Netherlands that will be shown on repeat until we are all old and grey—Rooney has once again flattered to deceive, as Paul Hayward of The Telegraph agreed.
This is not a new occurrence; it is becoming the norm.
There has to be a degree of sympathy for Rooney that he was not played in his preferred central attacking berth, but he is behind both Sturridge and Sterling on form at present. If he cannot perform on the left side of the attack, there is a place on the bench with his name on it.
Rooney's deconstruction will continue beyond the World Cup and into the new season when United's new campaign kicks off.
There is zero possibility that Louis van Gaal will be starting him ahead of RvP in the striker's position, leaving Rooney playing wide in the 4-3-3 that the Dutch coach is likely employ.
But, as we saw on Saturday, Wayne is not happy in a wide-attacking position. With Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa both much more comfortable as wide attackers, rather than as wingers in a 4-4-2, there is huge question mark over whether Rooney will even start.
It is easy to point the finger at Rooney, but having started as a combative Premier League footballer at just 16 years old, his body is older than the average 28-year-old.
And it is starting to show.
United had to give Rooney his most recent astronomical deal in order hold on to their most commercially strong marketing asset, but just months on he may be surplus to requirements for both club and country.
Ultimately, it is up to Rooney to prove that he is still the mercurial footballer that he once was and to force his way into the line-up every match on merit.
Reputation alone will no longer work as his trump card when his performances in big matches are being described as "adequate."
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