Rooney can shine but he must relax - Glenn Hoddle
The former England Manager continues his blog from Brazil.
Wayne Rooney can finally establish himself as a world class performer – and take Brazil by storm – over the next few weeks.
But only if he calms down. He simply MUST relax.
He has under-performed in previous tournaments. Two World Cups, eight games … but no goals. Alan Hudson suggested Roy Hodgson shouldn’t even bother taking him to Brazil. Paul Scholes suggested Rooney’s best days are already behind him at the age of 28!
I simply don’t agree. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but not take Rooney!?
I was so pleased that he scored against Ecuador last week. It doesn’t matter that it was a tap in. You could see the relief - he needed that goal. Goalscorers thrive on goals. Rooney has an exceptional record for his country - and if he starts scoring in the World Cup I’m sure the goals will start to flow.
But I would tell him that in order to reach his peak on the biggest stage he needs to relax and play his normal game. He tries too hard to live up to his reputation as a world class player and it shows. He needs to be as natural as he can and enjoy himself because, although he is a world class talent, he hasn’t done himself justice… yet.
With the right approach, the right attitude, the right coaxing, he can. And when Rooney plays well, England play well. Roy isn’t blessed with seven or eight top class strikers - we are pretty thin in that area, more so than I can ever recall.
There has been hardly anything else to occupy the World Cup build up. It’s been non-stop knocking Rooney. Well, let me make it clear: England do not have anyone else to go into their opening World Cup tie against Italy with his quality.
If Rooney was on the bench, the Italians would be overjoyed.
But it won’t happen. Roy is far too astute and I would be betting on Rooney to score his first World Cup goal
Roy Hodgson says there is a Wayne Rooney fixation – and I know where he is coming from. I had something similar when I picked David Beckham for the World Cup in France 1998, although in David’s case it was far more intense.
People must understand we have nobody better suited than Wayne to playing just behind the front striker, that is the ideal role for him, when he can arrive late into the box. He has scored a few headers with that strategy, as he did against Poland in the qualifiers.
I’ve seen it suggested Raheem Sterling should be tried there because he did so well in that role just behind the main striker for Liverpool in the later part of their season. It was interesting to see that he came on against Peru and was tried in that position, but was soon pushed out to the wing, where his blistering pace is more effective.
I was actually left scratching my head when Sterling was played in that Rooney role, because the player best suited is Adam Lallana. But anyway, Rooney remains out best man for the job.
Sorry not to jump on the popular lets-drop-Rooney bandwagon. He is a definite for me, and I am convinced he can make the difference for this England team.
*Glenn Hoddle is part of the ITV team for the World Cup, while he is also a leading pundit with Sky.