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Wayne Rooney and the World Cup


John Simkin
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I suppose it was inevitable that Sven-Goran Eriksson would want to take Wayne Rooney to the World Cup. This is clearly a very daft idea. It will be at least six weeks before he can begin training. It will take another three or four weeks before he is match fit. What is the point of playing a half-fit player (look what happened when we played David Beckham in the last World Cup)? It is the height of amateurism to suggest an unfit player can have a positive impact on the World Cup. No one is that good.

Eriksson should take this opportunity to change the set-up of the team. No team has ever won any important title without having a holding midfielder. By playing one up front, you could play someone like Michael Carrick in this role. This would allow the two best attacking midfielders in world football, Lampard and Gerrard, to play a much more offensive role. Joe Cole should also be given the freedom to come inside more to support the lone striker for flick-ons etc.

The major problem concerns the lone striker. I doubt very much if Michael Owen will be match fit. I also doubt Crouch’s ability to play this role. My choice would be Kevin Davies of Bolton. He is a great header of the ball and would be an ideal target for the crosses of Beckham, Cole and Neville. The way Davies plays would also upset foreign defences. It will not happen of course. Eriksson is incapable of thinking "outside the box".

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Guest Stephen Turner

If he hadn't spent half the season warming Spurs bench I would suggest Jermain DeFoe, He has the power, pace and accuracy to trouble any defence. Pity he didn't stay with his original club, where he almost certainly would have been a fixture.

Edited by Stephen Turner
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Can we please stop playing a crying game? Liverpool Echo, May 4 2006

Sports View with Echo Sports Editor John Thompson

AND so we near the end of the first week of national mourning for the right foot of Wayne Rooney.

Steel yourself, though, there's at least another seven or eight to get through.

Undoubtedly, his broken foot is a personal disaster for 20-year-old Rooney and a major setback to England's World Cup hopes. He's a rare, world class talent and it's rotten luck he won't be there now.

But six days after it happened this episode is already a saga and one in danger of becoming a drawn out, tedious farce.

What is so puzzling about it all is that many people seem to have written off England's chances in Germany. Many of them are the same people who are the first to raise their beer glasses to the red cross, strain their faces into a passable impression of a barking bulldog and declare the end of 20, or 30 or 40 years of hurt is all but nigh.

Suddenly, some jingoistic national sports journalists and in-yer-face England fans ready to take on the world and win are all but reduced to terrified, whimpering wrecks. How can we possibly cope without Wayne? Why did this have to happen to us? We must take him even if he's only 80 per cent fit for the final etc.

Well, for those poor quivering souls who have already lost their bottle and their brittle backbones, let me remind them that all may not be lost.

Many England supporters love their history, particularly the military variety, and in it they may yet find hope.

Back in 1986, England entered the World Cup in Mexico with high hopes and two world class midfield players. One of them, Bryan Robson, was suffering a long term shoulder problem but was played. It dislocated again and off we went in Rooney-style despair. It was doubled when his partner, Ray Wilkins, was sent off and banned from the next game.

Cue Everton's Peter Reid, a diamond of a man and a midfield winner playing better football than either of them at the time - yet someone usually left out because his face didn't fit quite so much as Robson or Wilkins.

When Reid left the bench and took to the pitch, England, who were on the brink of being dumped out at the group stage, were transformed.

They may not have won the World Cup - God had a hand in that - but they were uplifted and vastly improved.

More recently, many people forget that the 2004/5 season for Liverpool was remarkable not just for the fact that they won the European Cup, but that they did it in a season when Anfield suffered its worst injury crisis in living memory.

Okay, they were at full strength for the final in Istanbul, but during the historic campaign they were often denied key players. Goals from stand-ins like Neil Mellor and Florent Sinama Pongolle were as important as any others.

Yes, Rooney's loss is a huge and cruel blow. But England can yet survive without him and do very well if they can adapt and make full use of the talent they do have.

So, can we please stop crying and start believing a bit more? Otherwise, these wimps will spoil the fun.

* * *

P.S. From Chris George--

I agree that Peter Crouch is not strong enough as center forward, his shots and headers often wimpy and lacking power. On the other hand, he is a canny player and contributes a lot with knock-downs and smart passes. Another clever player is Robbie Fowler. While Robbie has previously underwhelmed on the international stage and some will say he is past his prime, Fowler and Crouch could yet prove a winning combination at the World Cup if Robbie were given a chance, and he has had practice playing with both Crouch and Gerrard, who could be the key to England's success. So.... has England's World Cup squad been announced? Is there any chance Fowler could be included?

Chris

Edited by Christopher T. George
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I agree that Peter Crouch is not strong enough as center forward, his shots and headers often wimpy and lacking power. On the other hand, he is a canny player and contributes a lot with knock-downs and smart passes. Another clever player is Robbie Fowler. While Robbie has previously underwhelmed on the international stage and some will say he is past his prime, Fowler and Crouch could yet prove a winning combination at the World Cup if Robbie were given a chance, and he has had practice playing with both Crouch and Gerrard, who could be the key to England's success. So.... has England's World Cup squad been announced? Is there any chance Fowler could be included?

Chris

Interesting idea. Fowler certainly invariably hits the target when given the opportunity. Always also a far superior striker than Owen

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