England with & without Wayne Rooney

Soon after Wayne Rooney exploded among us, I suggested he was the best footballer we\’ve produced since Bobby Charlton.

Many of you disagree.

Friday night’s red card is still making headlines three days later.

Let’s look at how a victory in Montenegro was thrown away.

In Podgorica on Matchday 8, after 72 minutes and 27 seconds, a defender obstructed Rooney, who then kicked him hard.

Half the viewers thought : What a petulant tosser! Do we have to suffer Rooney being sent off every time somebody stands between him and the ball?

It was one of the most ridiculous incidents we’ve seen in an England game.

Why? Because   It’s a contact sport ! Having grown up in English football, Rooney’s job is to  engage in argy-bargy in ways that keeps him   on the pitch. A striker works in a zone of fouls, elbows, kicks, barges, nudges, trips, tugs, and verbal abuse. If he’s extra-talented like Rooney, his opponents invariably bend the rules to stop him.

By the 72nd minute, England had almost every player behind the ball and were hanging onto a 2-1 lead and the only player in front of the ball was Rooney.

And then   Downing played a swift pass forward, an awkward ball which Rooney to take on the run with no support near him, facing the wrong way. He stopped the ball, which then hit his heel, and big defender Dzudovic moved across and backwards to protect the ball. That routine obstruction was the flashpoint. Rooney lashed out, kicking the defenders right leg.

The match had kicked off during a heavy downpour. They’d scored early, controlled   it, scored again in 32, and basically bossed the first 40 minutes. Darren Bent had added to Ashley Young’s header from three yards with a   tap-in from two yards. Walcott\’s cross had set up the important first goal.

Note that Rooney, although involved in the moves for both goals, was average, almost certainly affected by the arrest of his father and uncle the previous day.

The rot started with Montenegro\’s  first goal, which was the last kick of the first half.

That goal came from a deeply misguided break forward by Roy of the Rovers right back Phil Jones, who was making his debut. Jones made an interception and raced upfield, looking for a flick from Rooney on the halfway line. But his interception was more of a loose ball than a pass, and Rooney was unable to flick, stranding Jones and obliging Gareth Barry to race back into the right back position. That left England a man short in the middle and in the box, as the right-sided Montenegro move developed towards a good cross by right midfielder Beqiraj.

A gross positional blunder by John Terry, who ran back too far into England\’s penalty area, then froze, allowing the unmarked Zverotic to chest the cross and let it bounce before firing a right foot shot inside the near post for 2-1. His shot took a deflection off Gary Cahill\’s foot.

Amazingly, Phil Jones only jogged back. When that ball was crossed, Jones was ten yards deeper than the referee. It was as if he didn\’t want to be near his mistake. If a goal was scored, Jones didn\’t want to be anywhere near that goal. Being 19 is no excuse for what he failed to do there. If Jones was too tired to run back, he should have stayed behind the ball. England were cruising into half-time with a 2-0 lead until be tried to be a hero

At half-time, Sky pundit Glenn Hoddle said,  â€œWe switched off.”

During the second half, England were winning 2-1 but had lost control of the play on a soggy pitch. They were patchy, although Scott Parker and Ashley Young did well. Then they went down to 10 men after 73 minutes and England tried to hold it to 2-1 for the next 18 minutes. But the pendulum had already swung before that, which was a factor in Rooney\’s frustration, and after the red card it always looked as if Montenegro might equalise. Being a man short made a goal almost inevitable.

Andrija Delibasic came on in the 80th minute. A six foot two inch striker, Delibasic is 30 and plays for Rayo Vallacano and scored seven goals in their promotion season. But this season he\’ only started one La Liga   game and made four sub appearances without scoring..

Delibasic headed back two crosses, then headed the third one into the net for 2-2 in the 90th minute, colliding with the goalpost. He ran into the ecstatic supporters and was so high on adrenaline that he didn’t realise he had broken his arm. When the pain kicked in, he collapsed onto the ground.

His goal sent Montenegro into the play-offs, since Wales managed to beat Switzerland 2-0.. If they qualify, Euro 2012 will be their second tournament as an independent nation.

The story should have been : We qualified, we won Group G, we were unbeaten in eight games, we only conceded five goals.

After the game, Fabio Capello said, “I have to trust him, he’s my best player.”

In other words, Rooney’s belligerent flair will always come with an Irish temper.

Luckily, Rooney is at Manchester United and the longer he stays at United, the more professional he will become. Maybe. Or perhaps he’ll always achieve with Manchester United and never achieve with England.

United is his daily life and England is his occasional life and he knows, surely, that England don\’t have enough good players and 30% of those are always injured.

The ref said on Saturday that Rooney did not argue with his decision, so UEFA might only ban him from the first match of Euro2012.

But all that is academic anyway.We will do nothing next summer.

Capello should have resigned after bungling South Africa in such an ignorant manner.

If he had any sense of honour, any dignity, he would have said : I got it wrong, I quit.

I have no respect for him now. He’s going through the motions.He must know that  any coach who looks at England will see how vulnerable the defence is, how JT has been found out

On Saturday I accidentally saw five minutes of Football Focus with Martin   Keown and Joey Barton.

Keown suggested a Roo-less team for England\’s first game of the tournament and the BBC put up a caption of it. He had Wilshere and Gerrard in the holding positions.

Barton disagreed, saying, “I don\’t think he’ll do it like that. He likes two holding.”

Myself, I’d agree with Joey : Stevie G at 31 is almost as impetuous as Phil Jones is at 19. He\’s a goalscoring gladiator, not an anchorman. When Rafa Benitez realised that, we all realised it.

Keown\’s team was : Joe Hart; Kyle Walker Rio JT Ashley Cole; Wilshere Gerrard; Walcott Young Downing ; Bent

Gary Neville’s Sunday column headline was : We have to stop focussing on Rooney and deal with England\’s REAL problems.

Neville notes that we have obsessed far too much over Bryan Robson, Kevin Keegan, Paul Gascoigne and David   Beckham.

How very true !