Wayne Rooney has hopefully played his final game in an England shirt after getting in the way during Euro 2016
Roy Hodgson spent most of his four-year stint as a failed England manager being fiercely defensive of Wayne Rooney.
Leading up to the 2014 World Cup, it was clear that Daniel Sturridge would operate as the lone striker in front of an attacking trident, with Wayne Rooney’s place in the team open to question by the wider public.
After all, Rooney broke on to the international scene ten years earlier as a fresh-faced forward who made some notable appearances during Euro 2004 and was very much hailed as England’s great hope for the future.
However, the England years haven’t been particularly kind to a player who was sent off at the 2006 World Cup after looking unfit for that campaign, while the Three Lions missed out at Euro 2008 before another failed World Cup campaign in 2010.
Rooney was never blessed with a lot of pace although it mattered little in the early years, where the scouser would show his obvious class and scoring ability in an advanced position up the pitch.
Wazza was capable of the spectacular for both Manchester United and England, with his international scoring record standing up particularly well. From 115 appearances made, there have been 53 goals scored and he will be regarded as one of the outstanding players from this generation.
However, Euro 2016 was a mess for England and a lot of the blame can be pinned on Hodgson’s insistence on playing Rooney at all costs.
The England manager revealed his hand when making the forward captain of his country although the choices were clearly limited once Steven Gerrard had hung up his international boots and John Terry showed little appetite for returning to the Three Lions fold.
Nevertheless, being captain doesn’t mean you should be an automatic starter, especially if it means trying to shoehorn you into a position on the pitch where you aren’t particularly effective.
Rooney did have bright spells at the most recent European Championship and was certainly not England’s worst performer. However, the bottom line is that the 30-year-old has spent most of his career as an attacking forward and is less effective as a central midfielder.
Rooney will never be a Paul Scholes or an Andrea Pirlo. His diagonal balls might look visually impressive but are rarely incisive. He’s not a particularly good tackler and has little in the way of pace.
It comes back to the basics for England. The new manager needs to find a system that suits the players at his disposal. It’s what Antonio Conte has done with a limited Italian crop. The same applies to Chris Coleman with Wales. Yes, he has Gareth Bale but Coleman also has three at the back which utilises Ashley Williams, Ben Davies and James Chester.
In a summer where Lionel Messi has decided he’s had enough of international football, then Wayne Rooney should do the same. His quality will only wane (excuse the pun) and the next England manager simply cannot afford to have him as a luxury member of the squad.