FIFA World Cup 2010: Wayne Rooney, England's Broken Arrow
Where were you on September 9th, 2009? Can't remember?
Well, I know where I was, and I know where Wayne Rooney was. He was playing for England in a 5-1 victory over Croatia at Wembley, and he scored one goal. Gerrard and Lampard split the other goals.
What happened next?
The following month, on October 10th, England lost 0-1 to Ukraine. Rooney did not score.
Rooney was not present when England won 3-0 against Belarus at Wembley on October 14th. Crouch scored twice, and Wright-Phillips once.
Brazil were England's next opponents, on 14th November in Quatar. Brazil won with a single goal, Rooney did not score.
Egypt were England's next opponents, on March 3rd, 2010, at Wembley. Crouch scored twice, and Wright-Phillips once. Rooney did not score.
Again at Wembley, on the 24th of May, England beat Mexico 3-1. That was one each for Ledley King, Peter Crouch and Glen Johnson. Rooney did not score.
Then England were off to Austria for a 2-1 defeat of Japan. Rooney did not score.
Can you see a pattern emerging? Fabio Cappello couldn't.
On 12th June, England drew their opening world cup match in South Africa against USA 1-1. Rooney did not score, but Gerrard did.
Famously, England did not win over Algeria on 18th June. Needless to say, Rooney did not score.
Long gone are the days of 2003, when we gazed in wonder at the young England football phenomenon who dazzled with his talent, excited with his aggression, and seemed to offer every promise that he would conquer the world. Perhaps the Wayne Rooney of England 2010, in his combination of past glories and frustrated anger at present under-achievement, perfectly expresses our national physche.
There is a different Wayne Rooney who plays for Manchester United. He looks very similar, like an ape who's been kicked through sports shop, but happier, and he is devastating to opposing teams. Alas, that Rooney does not seem to be available for national selection.
In picking players on their club form, while ignoring their national form, Capello is treading a well-worn road; it is a route to failure that a string of England managers have gone down. Is it possible that he will ask himself the obvious question: who on recent form gets goals for England?
On his recent form, Rooney does not warrant a place in England's starting line-up. By the same criteria, Peter Crouch does. But I think it obvious that Capello will stubbornly stick with his favourites, and again try to shoot the opposition with a broken arrow.
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