Tag Archives: Rooney

Wayne Rooney: Great, good or flat track bully?

Wayne Rooney recently won his 100th England cap a few weeks beyond his 29th birthday, ramming home a penalty against Slovenia for his 44th international goal. The new skipper followed that strike with a brace against Scotland a few days later, but did this merely reaffirm his reputation as a player who excels against lesser opposition?

Wayne Rooney 2

Rooney first made back page headlines as a 16 year-old, when he caressed a sumptuous winner for Everton against title-chasing Arsenal in 2002, curling a 25 yard shot beyond despairing Gooners custodian David Seaman.

It seemed that England had a future star on their hands, and Sven Goran Eriksson was quick to recognise the wonderkid’s talent with Rooney’s Three Lions’ début making him the youngest player to represent the country a few months after his 17th birthday (a record since broken by Theo Walcott.)

An exciting four goal showing at Euro 2004 was followed by a lucrative £27m transfer to Manchester United, where the now 18 year-old enjoyed a dream début, netting a Champions hat-trick in a 6-2 home win against Fenerbahce, ensuring instant adoration amongst the Old Trafford faithful.

Despite continuing to prosper domestically, Rooney’s international form since those teenage kicks has fluctuated between feeble in major tournaments and exhilarating in friendlies or qualifiers.

 

TOP ENGLAND GOALSCORERS

1. Bobby Charlton: 49 in 106 matches
2. Gary Lineker: — 48 in 80
3. Wayne Rooney: – 46 in 101
4. Jimmy Greaves: – 44 in 57
5. Michael Owen: – 40 in 89

 

The player’s forgettable showing at this year’s World Cup only added fuel to the fire of those who see Rooney as little more than a flat track bully, someone who excels against relatively low standard opposition, whilst struggling to make an impact among the elite.

In 2014 it hardly helps that the national captain is flanked by a host of average players such as James Milner, Phil Jagielka, Rickie Lambert, Jordan Henderson ad nauseam, although the emergence of Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Jack Wilshire does offer cause for optimism.

 

Wayne Rooney adjusts his England captain's armband

It’s difficult to criticise “Wazza’s” goal scoring record for England, 46 goals in 101 matches, making him the third most prolific scorer in the country’s history and a mere three goals shy of fellow Man United icon Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 (scored at an almost identical rate.)

Ultimately perhaps it is due to the lofty expectations English football fans and the country’s media place upon the shoulders of promising young players that so many fall short of perceived potential. Comparing a 17 year-old Wayne Rooney to a 17 year-old Pele (a regular occurrence in tabloid newspapers in 2003) was like receiving the moon and demanding the stars as an aperitif.

Inevitably England’s third most prolific goal scorer of all time will take the top spot sooner rather than later (barring injury) and in that sense he can’t be considered a failure.

The fact that this should be wrapped up whilst the attacker is still in his 20’s is another gleaming feather in Rooney’s already overflowing cap, but to be considered a true great he must surely shine at Euro 2016 and/or the 2018 World Cup.

Only then will we know if Wayne’s world was one where the hype was disproportionate to the unfolding reality.

 

 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

The Number 23

England’s footballers head to Brazil this summer for the World Cup, with manager Roy Hodgson tasked with selecting his final 23-man squad at the start of June.

Here, Dom Kureen gives his verdict on who should make the cut and why.

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GOALKEEPERS
Joe Hart (26 years old, Man City, 39 Caps)
Remains his country’s undisputed number one, despite some indifferent club displays resulting in a prolonged spell on the sidelines for Manchester City earlier this season. Recent return to top form is timely, expect him to be a key figure if England are to progress beyond their group.

Fraser Forster (26, Celtic, 1 Cap)
With no serious contender to Hart’s throne, the Scottish Premier League’s elite stopper is the ‘best of the rest’, although his kicking and overall distribution remain worryingly suspect.

Ben Foster (31, West Bromwich Albion, 6 Caps)
The star turn in a poor Baggies team this season, Foster has the experience and confidence to prosper in South America and wouldn’t let the side down (a’ la Robert Green) should he be required to step up at any point.

 

DEFENDERS
Kyle Walker (23, Spurs, 10 Caps)
The former Sheffield United trainee hasn’t been at his dynamic best this term, but is still a fundamental component in his country’s blueprint for future and present success.

Glen Johnson (29, Liverpool, 50 Caps/1 Goal)
Although Johnson can be a liability in the defensive third, his powerful forward raids offer much-needed width to England’s narrow formation. That offensive ability, coupled with half a century of caps, should ensure that he edges ahead of the promising Nathaniel Clyne this time.

Leighton Baines (29, Everton, 22 Caps/1 Goal)
After spending almost a decade as Ashley Cole’s understudy, Baines is now the undisputed first choice left back at international level – one of Hodgson’s easiest selections.

Ashley Cole (33, Chelsea, 107 Caps)
A toss of a coin, with Southampton’s ‘wunderkind’, Luke Shaw, destined to displace Baines and Cole in the near future. The aura and reputation of England’s greatest ever left back should allow him one final tilt at the Jules Rimet trophy, before he gracefully steps aside at the conclusion of the tournament.

Phil Jagielka (31, Everton, 24 Caps/1 Goal)
In the absence of the internationally retired John Terry, the Toffees’ skipper is the Three Lions’ premier available centre half. As such, he will be expected to marshal the back line and should provide consistent, wholehearted displays against all-comers.

Gary Cahill (28, Chelsea, 22 Caps/1 Goal)
Prone to lapses in concentration, Cahill has at times found it difficult to step into the colossal boots of Messrs Ferdinand and Terry. For now he remains the appropriate choice to partner Jagielka in the heart of England’s back four.

Steven Caulker (22, Cardiff City, 1 Cap/1 Goal)
A £7m summer move from Tottenham Hotspur to Cardiff City enabled Caulker to play regular top-flight football, an opportunity that he’s since grabbed with both hands. Deserves to be rewarded for consistent excellence in a struggling Bluebirds team.

Phil Jones (22, Manchester United, 9 Caps)
Yet to fulfill his immense potential courtesy of various injuries, Jones’ value to his club side is nevertheless set to increase following the imminent departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Based on talent alone, he should have nailed down a starting place in the national side by now.

 

MIDFIELDERS
Steven Gerrard (Captain: 33, Liverpool, 109 Caps/21 Goals)
England’s captain may be past his talismanic best, but he is still a vital cog in the side’s engine room. Has adapted his game to compensate for a loss of pace and verve in recent seasons, ensuring that he remains indispensable for club and country as he approaches his 34th birthday.

Jack Wilshire (22, Arsenal, 15 Caps)
A creative tour de force at his best, Wilshire needs to add goals to his slick technical prowess in order to become the great player he’s capable of developing into. Has been in decent nick for the Gunners this term and should make the starting eleven at the World Cup if fit.

Michael Carrick (32, Manchester United, 31 Caps)
The veteran Geordie has had a subdued domestic season, missing almost half of Manchester United’s matches through injury. He remains a valuable squad player for England and a useful alternative to the inexperienced prospects vying with him for selection.

Ross Barkley (20, Everton, 3 Caps)
One of a host of talented English midfield players to emerge in the past few years, Barkley has more than a hint of Paul Gascoigne about his play, hopefully sans the off-field exertions. Has flourished at Goodison Park since Marouane Fellaini departed last summer.

Adam Lallana (25, Southampton, 3 Caps)
After working his way through the lower leagues with the Saints, Lallana has become a bona fide Premier League star, with the capacity to be moulded into Steven Gerrard’s long-term successor.

James Milner (28, Manchester City, 45 Caps/1 Goal)
A willing workhorse with the versatility to play anywhere across the middle of the park, or even as a full back, former Leeds United starlet Milner is a reliable if unspectacular footballer, as well as a model professional.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20, Arsenal 14 Caps/3 Goals)
In his third Premier League campaign, ‘Ox’ has yet to fully convince that he’s ready for a World Cup, although there have been flashes of the artistry associated with him throughout his youth team days at Southampton. In the absence of club teammate Theo Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain could find himself fast-tracked into England’s starting lineup.

Raheem Sterling (19, Liverpool, 2 Caps)
Flourishing alongside the visionary elegance of club colleagues Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho, the Jamaican born winger-cum-striker has made monumental strides in the past nine months, notching more than half a dozen goals in all competitions and wreaking havoc upon opposition backlines with his searing acceleration.

 

STRIKERS
Wayne Rooney (28, Manchester United, 89 Caps/38 Goals)
The key man for England, Rooney’s record at major international tourneys has left much to be desired since he lit up Euro 2004 as a belligerent teenager. This summer will surely define whether he goes down as one of the finest players of his generation, or merely a very good one who floundered on the big stage.

Daniel Sturridge (24, Liverpool, 10 Caps/3 Goals)
After years of treading water at Man City and Chelsea, Sturridge’s £12m move to Anfield 15 months ago has seen him mature into one of the most clinical, potent front men in Europe. If his partnership with Rooney can develop into something akin to the one he enjoys with Suarez for the Reds, England will have something special on their hands.

Andy Carroll (25, West Ham United, 9 Caps/2 Goals)
A massive flop over the past three and a half seasons, Carroll has commanded over £52m in transfer fees, despite netting a meagre 14 league goals during that period. His inclusion would at least provide an interesting alternative from the bench and his presence can assist the talented midfield runners in the side.

Danny Welbeck (23, Manchester United, 21 Caps/8 Goals)
Has discreetly prospered at club level this season, netting nine league goals at a rate of almost one every two matches. Like a select few before him (notably Darius Vassell), Welbeck appears to be a player who performs better for country than club and is a valuable member of the Three Lions’ squad.

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 Who do the fans want?

Five fans also chose their 23 to represent England at the World Cup, their selections made for some interesting reading!


Harry Groves (Portsmouth/England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Forster, Ruddy.

Defence
G.Johnson, Walker, A.Cole, Baines, Jagielka, Cahill, Smalling, Jones.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Wilshire, Carrick, Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Sterling.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Carroll, Welbeck.

Did you know: Harry’s squad effectively ends Frank Lampard’s England career, with the 35 year old’s omission surely putting the legend out to pasture.

 

Jonathan O’Shea (Aston Villa/Ireland fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Foster, Forster.

Defence
G.Johnson, Shaw, Baines, Jagielka, Smalling, Lescott, Cahill.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Wilshire, Lampard, Milner, Lallana, Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, A.Johnson, Sterling.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck

Did you know: Jonathan’s squad selection is the only one of the six with Joleon Lescott and Adam Johnson’s names among the 23.

 

Sarah Kingston (Southampton/England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Foster, Ruddy

Defence
Baines, A.Cole, G.Johnson, Jones, Cahill, Jagielka, Shaw, Smalling.

Midfield
Barry, Lallana, Lampard, Lennon, Milner, Rodwell, Shelvey, Wilshire.

Attack
Rooney (capt), Sturridge, Lambert, Welbeck.

Did you know: Sarah opts to leave Steven Gerrard at home and makes Wayne Rooney the captain instead.

 

Just Mike (England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Ruddy, Foster.

Defence
Baines, Cahill, Jagielka, Jones, Smalling, Shaw, Gibbs, Walker.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Lampard, Carrick, Lallana, Townsend, Sterling, Wilshire, Barkley.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck, Lambert.

Did you know: Mike is able to name three specialist left backs by utilising Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as backup to first choice right back Glen Johnson.


DJ Rees (Tottenham/England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Forster, Butland.

Defence
Baines, Shaw, C.Davies. Cahill, Jagielka, Clyne, Caulker, G.Johnson.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Lallana, Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Huddlestone, Carrick, Wilshire, Henderson, Sterling.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Lambert.

Did you know: DJ decides to reward form rather than reputation, nominating Curtis Davies, Jack Butland, Nathaniel Clyne and Tom Huddlestone after the quartet enjoyed productive domestic campaigns.

Tom Huddlestone has impressed DJ Rees since joining Hull City.
Tom Huddlestone has impressed DJ Rees since joining Hull City.

So, that’s what we think, how about you? Comment below to let us know which players you’d give the nod and why!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.