England’s five nil demolition of one of the worst international teams in the history of competitive football told us practically nothing last night other than some fans are willing to buy tickets for any game involving the Three Lions.
While people have been churning out passing stats which show Tom Cleverley is officially better than Messi and Ronaldo combined and arguing over whether Oxlade-Chamberlain was amazing or crap- I’m in the latter camp, Rooney’s performance as captain almost went unnoticed.
Although he couldn’t have had easier opposition if he’d have turned up at his local playing fields carrying his boots and asking for a game, Rooney still played well and tellingly seemed to revel in his role as ‘official leader.’
“To actually lead a team out, you look up, you see the crowd and – the atmosphere – it’s quite a feeling.”
While Rooney has never been the sort of player to shout words of encouragement to his team mates, nor is he the kind to truly tell them off -although some of his looks to Nani say more than a thousand words- he made a bit of an effort last night, and certainly carries a lot of respect from the younger players.
Theo Walcott spoke of how Rooney was the one player in the England set-up who could move freely between the different ‘cliques’ and was popular with pretty much everyone.
Talent-wise although there may be question marks over him during major tournaments, there’s no denying Rooney is always going to be one of the players you turn to for England when you want something special and his team mates know this.
Rooney’s made no secret of the fact he’d like to captain his country again in the future and with current skipper Steven Gerrard now 32 there’s a good chance Wazza could be leading out the national side more often over the next few years.
What’s interesting about Rooney as a potential England captain is that it raises the immediate question I’m sure many other Reds have been pondering “could he skipper United?” While a scouser captaining United seems sacriligeous there is a case to be made for handing Rooney the coveted armband.
For starters there’s his new role deeper in the United side, which at times is practically a centre midfielder and no doubt ideal for someone captaining any side. Secondly Rooney unlike Patrice Evra or Nemanja Vidic is English and one would think capable of conversing with the referees a little better than those two, which seems to be an integral part of being a Premier League skipper nowadays. I’m not saying the two defenders don’t make good captains, just looking at advantages Rooney may bring to the role. Thirdly there’s the fact Rooney couldn’t have picked a better role model for the job.
When asked which skipper inspired him Rooney noted:
“Roy Keane, without a doubt, having played with him for a couple of years and seen how he played on the pitch and dealt with things off it.
“He was vocal on the pitch and helped me off it. He was a great captain.
“I was lucky enough to play with him and, hopefully, I can gain some of his qualities in my own game. I had a few rollickings off him and we had a few debates. We both wanted to win and sometimes, when you want to win, it’s not always about sitting down and talking quietly.
“You have a go at each other purely to try and get the best out of each other. If you saw the way he was with the other senior players, it was the same as with the younger players.
“He was not afraid to tell everybody how he felt and how he wanted them to perform. He treated everyone the same. He wanted to win and he wanted his team to win. That was a great quality.”
Rooney will never be as inspirational a skipper as Keano, no one could be and it’s pretty obvious the United and England man just doesnt have the same sort of persona that made Ireland’s finest such a legend, but there’s no reason why he can’t be a similar type of leader on the pitch.
With Evra past thirty and now finally having someone to rotate with in Alexander Buttner plus Vidic having injury issues there’s no reason why Rooney couldn’t be a contender for a more permanent captain at United. Sometimes players grow into roles and given the job, we may see Wazza become more vocal on the pitch towards his team mates, rather than just referees.
Have I lost the plot? Could Wazza really fill Keanos boots? Feel free to comment suggest and abuse below: