Having had time to digest last Wednesday’s performance many sports writers and pundits are finally taking a step back from their earlier “Rooney is England’s saviour” stance. Typical now is the line taken by Steven Howard in the Sun, although he would still include him in the squad.
“Drop him. Sloppy, indisciplined and no shots on target in the last three England games. Roo’s going through the motions and fans know it. Even the ex-internationals who always rally to his cause when his place in the team is queried can no longer escape the conclusion that England looked a far better side when he was taken off in the second half.”
For me, Wayne Rooney is England’s Cantona, or Di Canio, or even Ginola. What did they all have in common? Having given them their chance and despite their undoubted talents, their national managers recognised their flaws and dropped them with the result that the national teams became more successful. In Ginola’s case, Spurs and Newcastle fans are eternally grateful for his move to England. Ditto Manchester United and West Ham in the case of the other two.
With that in mind, every man and his dog is putting their squad forward for the World Cup. For what it is worth; here is mine as of today. Obviously it is subject to change depending on injuries and form etc. in the run up to the deadline.
England World Cup Squad?
Goalies: Hart, Foster, Ruddy
Defenders: Johnson, Walker, Cole, Baines, Cahill, Jagielka, Caulker
Midfielders: Gerrard, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lampard, Milner, Carrick, Henderson
Attack: Sterling, Townsend, Sturridge, Lallana, Welbeck/Defoe, Lambert/Carroll/CrouchI find completing the strikers picks the most difficult task. I would like to take two of the same type in the target man centre forward position to give us an alternative method of play. So if Andy Carroll returns to his Newcastle best over the last two months of the season and keeps his temper under control he goes too. If he doesn’t then I’d bring Peter Crouch back. He has never let England down. If Jermain Defoe hits good scoring form in the States, he’s in. If not, Danny Welbeck.
Theo Walcott would go if not for injury; at least it would be between him and Andros Townsend. Jack Wilshere too. Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley and Tom Cleverly likely for next time. Rooney would have squeezed in despite his disappointing performances in previous major competitions but the return of the red mist and hacking of opponents under David Moyes has put the final tin lid on it for me. I’d like to be more confident of keeping 11 men on the pitch in Brazil. If we do lose someone to a sending off, I’d rather it was a defender trying his best to do his job.