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If Man United can’t rely on Wayne Rooney why should England?

| 10.04.2014

Thank goodness for YouTube, for without the internet video library football fans of a certain age may never know what Wayne Rooney was like as a big-match winner.

As Manchester United gallantly departed the European football scene with a 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich, the £300,000-a-week earner epitomised the side’s industry and effort.

He couldn’t provide the flash of brilliance the side needed to wrestle the tie their way though, despite two golden opportunities and the truth is that he hasn’t dominated a pivotal match for some time.

Such lustre, like announcing himself as a Red Devil with a Champions League hat-trick, cutting Arsenal’s unbeaten run one short of 50 or scoring overhead-kick goals in Manchester derbies, have long since vanished for the 28-year-old.

A season of warning signs surrounding Rooney’s dwindling influence – his two goals against Spurs are the only ones this season that have earned United a result in a high-profile match – were magnified at the highest club level in Germany, and Roy Hodgson should take note.

The former Everton man has travelled to major tournaments as the big English hope before and failed to deliver. So when the time to tackle Italy in the opening group game comes, Roy Hodgson must find a new linchpin.

Daniel Sturridge, supported by Raheem Sterling, has contributed hugely to Liverpool’s run at the title this season, while Adam Lallana’s guile has won both Southampton and England games this term.

So for the Italy match, which England are 11/5 to win, why not relieve Rooney of the burden he so clearly fails to carry and place it on the shoulders of players young and able enough to deal with it.

Having racked up 43 appearances for club and country this season, with more to come ahead of the World Cup, the Man Utd man won’t be carrying the freshest of legs to the tournament anyway, so a rest could do him good.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.