Rarely a game goes by without Wayne Rooney receiving criticism for his performance, and England’s 2-0 win against Malta was no different.
Jose Mourinho has dropped Rooney from Manchester United’s starting line-up but Gareth Southgate saw fit to include the 30-year-old in his first XI as England’s interim manager.
Southgate heaped praise on Rooney afterwards but he was one of only a few who actually saw anything positive in the attacker’s display.
The United man was nutmegged in the first half and fired a shot harmlessly over the bar in the second. It’s clear that at this stage of his career, only Rooney’s legacy is helping him at this point.
Yet as ineffective as Rooney was, he might have been forced to take an early bath if referee Stefan Johannesson had interpreted his first-half tackle differently.
As the below image shows, Rooney, playing in centre-midfield, committed a dangerous tackle that left a Malta player grounded. It was late and aggressive; perhaps a release of some pent-up anger at the constant criticism.
Former England boss Glenn Hoddle, on punditry duty for Sky Sports, said it was a “good old-fashioned tackle”, but the people of Twitter didn’t agree.
Even Robbie Savage was prompted to ask whether Rooney deserved to be sent off.
Rooney was once a star in the eyes of England fans who thought he could lead them to international glory, but the final chapter of his Three Lions career is petering out in quite depressing fashion.
He was booed tonight at Wembley Stadium, an act that bemused Southgate.
“I don’t understand it,’ he said, per the Metro. “That seems to be the landscape. I’ve no idea how that’s expected to help.
“The onus on him is enormous. Criticism of him is, at times, unfair. He ploughs on and captains his country with pride.”