Slide to the left. Slide to the right. Criss cross. Wherever Wayne Rooney does start this evening, there’s one thing he must guarantee – he has everyone clapping their hands.
Opinion has been split the last few days as to where the Manchester United star should start, if at all, following his performance against Italy on Saturday evening in Manaus. Just about every newspaper has led with him on the back pages, whilst Twitter has been in overdrive defending the player, attacking the player, and making the usual Shrek jokes.
But whilst it may appear to some Rooney was more Donkey down that left hand flank, can we really afford to drop the player that scored 19 last season, and is one of England’s most feared attackers?
That simply isn’t going to happen. Roy Hodgson has already told the media he owes it to Rooney to start him after the number 10 catapulted the Three Lions to the finals in the first place with a vital goal against Poland. But where he starts come this evening, well that’s a whole different story.
His performance against the Italians has been highlighted more times than the hair of an Only Way is Essex cast member over the last few days, with the noticeable joy of Antonio Candreva down the Italian right flank, with the general consensus agreeing that he didn’t offer left-back Baines the support he needed.
Of course, that’s not why Rooney is in Rio – he’s there to score goals. Or even a goal. The forward has yet to score in a World Cup in his career, although alongside his stunning ball to set up Daniel Sturridge on Saturday night he missed a glorious opportunity to level things up, and perhaps if he would have scored the furore surrounding the 28-year-old would not be there.
Frank Lampard certainly thinks there is this fixation with Rooney, and if it was anyone else out there, the Twitter storm would certainly have been quelled. He said during his press conference, “Take Wayne’s name away and look at his work rate and the ball he put in, and it would be different. We are dwelling on something we don’t need to and it can become detrimental. But behind closed doors we are very determined.”
Wayne Rooney is not unfamiliar to adversity however, and if there’s one thing we know about the Liverpudlian, is that he’ll come out of the tunnel in Sao Paulo determined.
It’s likely he’ll return to his number 10 role this evening and if any of us need any Wayne Rooney World Cup betting tips, we can bet our lives he’ll put in a performance that will make us forget Manaus, especially going up against a weak Uruguay back four.
Rooney, alongside Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, and Danny Welbeck are likely to cause all sorts of problems this evening, just as they did five days ago, putting England’s hopes back on track, and Wayne Rooney back as the England spearhead.