Tomorrow night Gareth Southgate will take charge of his England side in the World Cup qualifier against Malta. However, the question we are all asking is:
‘Will Wayne Rooney be leading the England team out on to the Wembley pitch?’
I can understand people asking the question, and I can also understand why some fans don’t feel that the Manchester United striker should be even in the team, let alone the captain. Although, I think it is worth noting that, within our qualifying group, Malta are the worst side. That’s not being disrespectful, it’s just a fact, and because of this fact we should make the necessary changes to the starting 11 and the positions where certain individuals will play i.e. Wayne Rooney.
Rooney should start on Saturday and moreover, he should play as the main striker. I know that’s a bold statement but I expect goals tomorrow evening and it will give Rooney the chance to bag a few goals and play with the freedom he doesn’t usually get playing in the deeper role.
Goals breed confidence & confidence breeds goals, and if we want our national captain to return to the level we have seen in previous years then he needs to gain some confidence. Leading the line tomorrow night is a perfect place to start.
The squad will travel to Slovenia for Tuesday’s qualifier. Now, once again, I expect to see Wayne Rooney’s name on the teamsheet on Tuesday evening. However, I do expect him to be playing in his deeper role. On Tuesday we will need players to dictate and control the midfield in what could be a tricky game and I believe the best player to do that is Wayne Rooney. For the last 13 years, we have expected so much from Wayne, as he has been England’s best player.
I think that has been part of the problem; we have treated Wayne Rooney like he’s at the same level as Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo, but he never reached their level. To be fair, he always had the potential; I just feel the pressure of being England’s stand-out talent just hindered Wayne. Because we knew what he could do, we expected more from him than some of the others who were at fault for our appalling effects at major tournaments.
Wayne is set to retire from international duty in two years and I believe that’s the right time for him. I also believe, until that time, the current squad needs Wayne Rooney to help them develop, and we need Wayne Rooney if we are to qualify and challenge in Russia.