Former England and Manchester United teammate Rio Ferdinand has condemned the boos that England captain Wayne Rooney faced last night during England's less than impressive 2-0 win over Malta.
Rooney, operating in a deep-lying midfield role, produced another sub-par performance leading to the Wembley crowd booing him on multiple occasions throughout the World Cup qualifier. Ferdinand wrote: "...Booing at the stadium too...come on guys, booing?? Liberty.", and, despite Rooney's up and down night, it is a little distasteful for fans to boo such a storied servant of English football.
First half goals from Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli saw England record a win and three points, though the performance was less than stellar against a real minnow of the international game.
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Rooney's performance was inconsistent in a role that really isn't his strength and he was even embarrassed on one occasion as he was nutmegged by a Malta player which drew sarcastic cheers from the crowd.
The boos and questions over Rooney's involvement in the national side will only grow with more performances like this one and there is real doubt over the future of his international career now.
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However, caretaker manager Gareth Southgate gave the 30-year-old his backing saying "It's fascinating to get an insight into his world over the last 10 days. Every debate seems to focus on him. The onus on him is enormous, the criticism of him is, at times, unfair and yet he ploughs on and plays with pride and represents his country with pride.
"I don't understand [the booing] but that seems to be the landscape. I have no idea how that is expected to help him, for sure."
Rooney's being shoehorned
Though his manager may have faith in him for now, it seems more and more like Rooney is being fitted in to the side in way possible purely for his presence, especially after his showing last night.
The England captain lost the ball 25 times, more than any other England player and really didn't look like pulling the creative strings nor firming up the defensive side of things in the middle of the park. One must question why Eric Dier wasn't playing in that role like he does weekly for his club.
Rooney is no longer the devastating force going forward that he once was and the fact that he cant start up top by right, means his place in the team will definitely be under more and more scrutiny going forward. Whilst the boo's are not completely unjustified, they are distasteful and unnecessary, but Rooney must surely improve his performances soon or face the axe from the national team.
Slovenia away next week could be a big turning point for Rooney and this England side going forward.