Fabio Capello is going to use the games against Spain and Sweden to try out alternative strikers in preparations for next Summer’s championships.
At first glance that seems like a very astute idea, after all we all know what Rooney is capable of in an England shirt, while the same may not be argued for the likes of Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge or to a lesser extent Darren Bent.
My only problem with the idea of dropping Rooney, mainly for the first game against Spain is it would have given him the chance to play against truly world-class international opposition- yes I know all internationals are ‘world-class’ but you get my point.
While it’s important that Capello gives his second, third or even fourth choice strikers a chance, it’s also vital that Rooney is given the opportunity to flex his international muscles against the cream of world football.
Rooney’s only played against the best in the world, for England a handful of times. In 2004 he played most of the game against France and hardly any against Portugal. You could claim that Croatia were one of the top teams in Europe, but I’d they weren’t really, simply a decent side.
2006 saw Rooney face the mighty Ecuador in the last 16 after a group where only 60 odd minutes against Sweden represented any sort of real top class opposition. Following the Ecuador game, came another quarter final against Portugal and another early exit from the game for Wazza- this time for the stamp that led to that wink.
2010 Rooney got to chase shadows in Bloemfonein against the Germans, after a poor group had seen particularly poor performances from a man who obviously wasn’t on form and may have had things on his mind…..
Of course there are friendlies, Rooney has faced the likes of Holland, Argentina and Brazil in the past five or six years and has often given a good account of himself.
It’s friendlies against top class opposition which give Rooney his chance in an England shirt to do what he does for United in the Champions League- face the best defenders on the planet.
This is exactly what Wazza may be required to do should he be brought into the England side for the knockout stages of 2012, I for one think he will be.
Some have argued that if the England strikers, whoever they may be, are flying, then the logic suggests it would be foolish to drop them for Rooney in the knockout stages.
There are two problems with this argument though, one England seldom qualify for any knockout stages, looking all to convincing, in fact Euro 96 is the only time I can recall us sailing through pretty comfortably. Secondly, strikers that may be able to beat the non-seeded opposition
in the groups may struggle against the potential likes of Spain, or Holland in the knockouts.
Also Rooney’s ban may only be for two games, after appeal, in which case we may even see him figure in the final group game.
I know there’s a need to see what other strikers can do, but personally I would’ve liked to have seen Wazza given a chance against one of the world’s top teams- who knows it may be his only chance for a long, long time….
Am I off my head? Is it pointless wasting a friendly on Rooney? Or is there a small island of sense in my sea of dribble?
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