Posts Tagged ‘Wayne Rooney’
In England’s final pre-tournament friendly, an unconvincing 1-0 win over Portugal on June 2, Rooney led the line as a central striker in a 4-3-3 formation. Two weeks later, he is being picked in midfield ahead of specialists such as Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson and James Milner. Rooney’s repositioning has exposed a hitherto underappreciated side of his game, with his strafing passes helping to set England’s tempo against both Russia and Wales. He completed 66 passes against Wales, more than any other player, and his tireless promptings established a foundation for the late push that culminated in Daniel Sturridge’s injury-time winner.
Wayne Rooney’s redeployment in England’s midfield appears to represent the dawn of a new phase in his career. I’ve written about it for AFP here.
Despite Wales sitting perilously deep at times, England toiled in their attempts to pull them out of their defensive shape and it was not until added time that the decisive moment of quality arrived. Sturridge knocked the ball forward to Vardy, who laid it off to Alli, and though the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder could not profit from his own slick turn, Sturridge burst in to beat Hennessey at his near post. It prompted an explosion of joy on the England bench, Hodgson leaping to his feet and assistant coach Gary Neville haring down the touchline. But throwing all the strikers on and hoping for the best is not an approach that can be relied upon to carry England deep into the tournament.
For all the joy of England’s dramatic victory over Wales, they remain very much a work in progress. My piece for AFP can be read here.
A recent BBC documentary about Rooney has helped to soften attitudes towards him in Britain. Renowned for his aggressive on-pitch demeanour, all angry scowls and expletive-strewn outbursts, the Rooney in the film came across as a shy and softly spoken family man. Viewers saw him chatting with former neighbours on the housing estate in the tough Croxteth district of Liverpool where he grew up and were treated to the surprising admission that the young footballer wooed his future wife Coleen with poetry. According to former England striker Gary Lineker, whose production company made the film, the public reaction on social media was “overwhelmingly positive”.
Another day, another Wayne Rooney profile… This one’s to mark his impending 30th birthday. You can find it here.
Obliged to lead the line alone in manager Louis van Gaal’s single-striker system, he has looked isolated and off the pace, his touch betraying him, his famous explosiveness diminished. It has brought to mind the words uttered last year by Paul Scholes, Rooney’s former United team-mate, who said that Rooney’s premature emergence as a teenager means he may have reached his peak some years ago. Rooney himself has dismissed suggestions that he is past his best and has pointed with justification to a historical record that shows his fallow periods are frequently followed by flurries of goals. And yet there is no escaping the fact that he is no longer the game-changing force of nature, the rampaging bull, that burst onto the scene with Everton at the age of 16, earning him the nickname ‘the White Pelé’.
A piece on Wayne Rooney, and the gulf between the player he threatened to become and the player he actually is.
“During a 7-0 end-of-season rout of Everton, Arsenal scored a dazzling goal that showcased the sharply honed creative gifts of Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutchman began the move by chesting a Lauren throw-in to Edu, who fizzed a pass forward into the feet of Robin van Persie. Van Persie laid the ball off to Bergkamp and he bisected the visiting defence with an exquisite chipped pass that allowed Vieira to steam in and nonchalantly loft the ball over goalkeeper Richard Wright.”
In honour of Chelsea’s sublime second goal in their 3-1 win at Burnley on Monday, I’ve compiled a list of five great Premier League team goals for AFP. You can see the list (with videos) here.
“Rooney was one of few United players to find form during a disastrous 2013-14 season and he feels that a pre-season pep talk with former manager David Moyes helped him rediscover some of his famous fire. ‘He felt I had lost a bit of aggression out of my game -- which I was asked to do, by the way. He said he wanted me to find that aggression back,’ Rooney said of Moyes, who was sacked by United in April. ‘I thought about it a lot. It wasn’t really me. Maybe there are times when you have to try and lift the crowd with a tackle — obviously not a stupid one, but a run back and tackle can lift the fans and even turn a game round.'”
My first AFP dispatch from the 2014 World Cup, on Wayne Rooney’s eagerness not to let another major international tournament pass him by, can be read here.
“The year had started in familiar fashion, with United romping to an unprecedented 20th league title, but at 09:17 on the morning of Wednesday, May 8, everything changed. A tweet published by the United press office confirmed the jaw-dropping rumours that had first emerged on the Daily Telegraph website the previous night: Ferguson, the father of the modern United, the most successful manager in British football history, was stepping down after 26 and a half record-breaking years.”
My AFP review of the year 2013 in English football can be found here.
“LONDON — Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson launched his new autobiography on Tuesday, lifting the lid on his relationships with stars including David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Roy Keane and Wayne Rooney.”
My AFP report on the launch of Alex Ferguson’s forthright new autobiography can be found here.
“London (AFP) – England survived a night of tension to qualify for the World Cup after Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard secured a 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.”
My AFP match report on the night England booked their ticket to Brazil can be read here.