International

Rooney’s Return to the England Squad is a Farce

I don’t hate Wayne Rooney. But there’s just no need for an England national team return. We’ve all moved on and there’s no time for commercial sentiments.

The England national football team should be just that. The best eleven men available to represent the English nation in world sport. Wayne Rooney does not fit that criterion. He’s far from it. It’s a tragic affair when people in positions of power make U-turns. Deliberate or not, Southgate’s “focus on youth plea” which ousted Jamie Vardy now as a policy holds no credibility with Rooney taking to the field in an England shirt again.

It’s important to disambiguate between what we see as acceptable and what is not. I appreciate that Wayne is coming out of retirement to do his bit for disadvantaged kids in the world. The Wayne Rooney foundation looks like it’s been set up with the best intentions and will help A LOT of kids. That’s great and we applaud Wayne for his efforts. My concern is that the England national football team can offer this kind of platform for him to do it.

England did exceptionally well in the last world cup. This is the momentum England needs to stay in the UEFA Nations League and win all the upcoming fixtures to mount a serious challenge in the next European Championships. Recalling old players for one-off matches is no way to go about it.

International testimonials are few and far between. These are so sparse because of the limited time available to national setups. Clubs have the flexibility of having on-duty players with them for eight months of the year. By comparison, England doesn’t have the luxury of meeting up so often. This time is precious to hone and craft the squad.

The football and performance of the England national team are becoming second priority to Wayne having his run out. He hasn’t been part of the England team in nearly two years; in which they reached a world cup semi-final.

Southgate came out on the back of this by saying all future efforts would invest in youth. Nobody could be mad with this given that the youthful team that went to Russia did so well. The toxic tag of the golden generation has long faded and we can now support a prosperous team going forward, without Wayne. Errr…

One step forward, two steps back. It’s almost the same situation when Fabio Capello said that David Beckham was too old to play for England aged 37, in the same week as Paul Scholes came out of international retirement.

Wayne instead could follow in Beckham’s footsteps and make some kind of friendly tour where he could play at his favorite grounds in the US and England. DC United, Everton and Manchester United I’m sure would all be on board to help out his new charity given his affinity with the clubs. This way too, the Three Lions wouldn’t have their time completely wasted.

In essence, testimonials shouldn’t take over real national team games. When players are recalled to the squad, they should be coming in to benefit the team – not for personal grandeur. Whatever role Rooney plays in this upcoming game, whether it be captain, a substitute, midfielder or striker – it’s a total farce.

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