Raheem Sterling played very well against Italy, that is a fact. Wayne Rooney had a fairly average night other than providing the assist for the goal. Sterling was effective because of his energy and pace, attributes that help in his normal position of playing on the wing.
That is where Rooney is a different player altogether; he has bags of energy but not quite the pace. So was playing him on the wing really a good choice?
Sterling has had a fantastic season for Liverpool playing on the wing, Rooney has been United's best player all season playing as a number 10. This seems like common sense to me. Too much pressure is put on Wayne Rooney, with Frank Lampard condemning the 'fixation' on the United man.
Coming into the World Cup, a lot was made of Rooney's record at the big tournaments which I am sure he is just as aware of, and people were even asking whether he should be in the starting lineup. I don't think that should be in question for the man that was the standout player for United this season and also their top scorer.
Sterling has pace to burn and can attack full-backs in a similar way to how he operates for Liverpool. He knows how Daniel Sturridge plays and with those two in particular having had the best seasons of their careers, we should be encouraging them to do the same at international level.
Wayne Rooney's best position is without a doubt playing as a number 10 behind a main striker. He works hard, is difficult to knock off the ball and has a great vision for the game. He can track back and help out his midfield as well as support a lone striker and he has proven that he can score at both club and international level.
England must remember that they are not trying to deal with the Rooney or Mata dilemma at United for example, where two players share the same best position.
Roy Hodgson is trying to fit square pegs in round holes by switching players to occupy unfamiliar positions, when we should be letting Sterling terrify defenders with his pace and Rooney bulldoze his way through the centre. He also possesses great passing ability and can spot the 'killer ball', especially important with the speedy Sturridge being the lone striker.
Roy Hodgson has got so many things right in the build up to this tournament. Selection of young and hungry players has been refreshing, form has been a factor in his decisions, there seems to be a genuine level of positivity around the camp and it's great to see everyone with a smile on their face. A lot of credit has to go to Hodgson for his level of preparation and also his handling of the media which is inevitably difficult when so much pressure is usually applied.
However, he needs to see that playing Rooney out of position is not a good choice and rectify that for the Uruguay game. If he feels that Rooney is not good enough for the team in his strongest position, he needs to drop him altogether not try and force him in somewhere else where he will take the place of someone who specialises in that position. If he feels that Rooney is good enough to be in the side, put him in and let him price his critics wrong.
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