The English team has made a resounding statement by getting eliminated in the group stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The sweet smell of schadenfreude is far too imbibed into the English football that it sticks to them even when they arrive at the biggest stage of them all. Their failure to deliver on the big stage isn’t new to anyone, it has for long been identified as the consequence of a competitive Premier league.
The Premier League, much unlike the other top European leagues is living off borrowed fame. Their quality has come from other European nations while their own backyard has yet to give positive results. England, in all essence hasn’t been beyond the second round in their past three major tournaments. They reached the quarterfinals at Euro 12, but then, that was the direct round after the group stage so it doesn’t count beyond the second.
And every single time they failed at a major tournament, the world found a reason to scrape off the blame from the squad’s back. In 2010, it was the referee who disallowed Lampard’s goal. Germany was a much better team and would have won the match. Even if not, the score line read 4-1, a difference of three goals that wouldn’t have changed the result even if Lampard’s one was allowed. Above all this, in the end, football does fall prey to such decisions and no one ever could question the legitimacy of a different outcome otherwise.
With such prolific diversions, the English team has never really learnt from the mistakes of the past and the ghost of Geoff Hurst still continues to quench their thirst for silverware. Honestly, the English team shall never succeed until it erases the mentality of reasoning defeat. For in every walk of life, there shall never be success until one meets failure on the face of it.
And with their 2014 World Cup campaign over, the scapegoat has once again emerged. Except that it is their most talented player, Wayne Rooney, there isn’t much of a difference with previous accusations. The questions arise as such, why does Rooney not deliver for his country? Simple enough, he excels at his club yet his commitment to the nation is questionable.
Since the golden days of Euro 2004, he has failed to do anything noteworthy for the national team while his club record has grown in leaps and bounds with a Champions league and so many Premier league triumphs. The history of football is addled with examples of such players and their opposites too, and just like any body else Rooney has been taking the blame for a collective failure.
One of the more prominent reasons is our own mindset regarding the way we channel our thoughts about various competitions. The Premier league’s format is such that is occurs over a period of nine months, far too long to ensure a footballer stays fre from injuries and maintains the form with which he started the season. While sustenance is important, the expectations of a player to play well for the entire season aren’t really considered practically possible, hence top clubs prefer to go into the season with World class strikers warming the bench providing them with the luxury of a quality backup.
As evidenced in recent years, even the top goal scorers fluctuate for bad around the turn of the year yet their end record shows up ubiquitous statistics that enhances their reputation. Rooney, to his word has always found a part of the season where he’s flourished and held the team together, thus marking out nearly every campaign of his as an excellent one.
However, come the World Cup, it’s an entirely different scenario. The world is watching, everyone wants to watch the World Cup, it is an event that attracts people beyond an imaginable level. The magnitude of the tournament is such that all the focus is on the duration of the finals. No one really cares a tad about the prelude or the aftermath.
To insinuate on how badly we perceive a player’s ability by the World Cup, the qualifiers are something that no one ever takes into consideration. Weighing in every minute of action in the finals, the star who got them there is so easily forgotten.
Seeing Rooney’s stats in the qualifiers, one should be flattered to see that his goal scoring rate of a goal every 68 minutes is bettered only by Robin Van Persie. Judging by that, he had been England’s most effective player prior to the World Cup and he has been so in the World Cup as well, playing a vital part in both of the goals scored by England.
Despite all these exuding stats, Roy Hodgson selected to play Raheem Sterling ahead of Wayne Rooney in the attacking midfield position. Rooney, was relegated to the left wing which he played to good effort, but by no means spectacular. While Hodgson might have favoured Sterling due to his excellent club form, entrusting a teenager with little experience ahead of Wayne Rooney was a decision wary of any logic.
The English game demands a sense of discipline, and some compromise on the player’s behalf, which Rooney provides effortlessly. A player with such credentials was neither allowed to lead the attack nor dictate the game, two aspects where he could have proved to be one of the best. The manager was going with decisions he thought would benefit the side, which were not remotely close to materializing positively.
Some of the flak thrown at him, with regard to Rooney’s stature which might seem somewhat oversized may have been justified; the top players need to shoulder the responsibilities better. But the manner in which his teammates’ poor performance has gone unnoticed is not only unfair but almost criminal on someone who has been selfless for both club and country. Gary Cahill, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge. Three players who had been excellent in the Premier League this season, and for once, they were in the limelight ahead of Rooney. And when the big bullies came knocking, they chose to succumb.
Andrea Pirlo humbled Gerrard in the first match, Suarez did Cahill in the second and Sturridge, honestly never looked like delivering and the one goal he scored was hugely due to excellent work by a supportive Rooney. The world questioned Rooney’s commitment and they cheered Pirlo, but not for a moment, did anyone suggest the ineffectiveness of Gerrard.
Gerrard was promoted as England’s best hope prior to the tournament, he came off a very good season and won many plaudits, but in the end, all he did was watch his team fall hopelessly. This World Cup served as a time of revelation for the English team, where in their flaws across the field were exposed greatly.
Hodgson was at fault, England played poorly, the English team was overburdened with expectations. To satisfy all of the above mistakes, ‘Rooney’ popped up. No one else.
In such an endearing situation, the question arises; Do England deserve the very best of Rooney? The answer shall remain, for until we see a revamp, no.