Can Rooney recover from World Cup woe?
After a blistering season at Old Trafford last time around the World Cup 2010 was supposed to be an opportunity for Wayne Rooney to truly shine on the international stage. Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen for the talented striker and now he has to pick himself up for next season with Manchester United.
What went wrong? I have no idea to be brutally honest, the Rooney we watched last season, almost single-handedly winning games for United and in free-scoring mood, just didn’t turn up. He didn’t look match fit and his first touch seemed to have deserted him. The 24-year-old wasn’t alone in his struggles, Portugal’s Cristinao Ronaldo found it hard to get into games, Fernando Torres has disappointed and Kaka has shown glimpses of top-form but no more than that. England keeper David James has since suggested that Rooney was simply marked out of the game, there could well be some truth in that as it does appear that if you stop Rooney you stop England and I would imagine every opposition manager paid special attention as to how to cope with Wayne Rooney. However, he is used to plenty of attention from defenders in the Premier League (and from better players than the Algerians, Slovenians, Americans and even the Germans) and there could be more to it than that.
Rooney’s confidence will have taken a bit of a battering after the World Cup, I think that is pretty much a certainty. The whole team were booed after their performance against Algeria and slated following their exit in the press, forward’s rely on confidence and it could take him a while to recover.
Another problem is the expectation that was placed on his shoulders before the tournament, with some world cup betting pundits suggesting he could take storm the tournament like a Maradona or a Pele and England’s ambitions being basically placed on his shoulders. It will have been painful for Rooney to fail so spectacularly, and in truth there is no other way to say it, but we all know how good he can be.
Sir Alex Ferguson is an exceptional man-manager and I’m sure he has already had plenty of contact with Rooney to reassure him and boost his confidence. In time, I’m sure the public will forgive Rooney as in truth it simply wasn’t his fault – if he wasn’t fully fit he shouldn’t have played, or should have been rested in a group game. Rooney was by no means the only man at fault for the Three Lions, basically no one had a good tournament (David James the exception maybe?) and it was painfully obvious the system just wasn’t working – yet Fabio Capello stuck with it.
What do other people think, am I over-analysing the situation and will be return at the top of his game in August? I hope so, we’ve seen others (Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard) disappoint for their country and then impress for their club and there is no reason why Rooney should be any different. The problems with England went way beyond the squad itself and at United there is an exceptional (best in the world maybe) managerial and coaching set-up so fingers crossed the Rooney we see at the start of the new campaign will be as good as he was last season.
By Gareth Freeman