Gareth Southgate’s decision to omit England and Manchester United captain, Wayne Rooney, from his recent Three Lions squad, was no surprise. However, the former Middlesbrough defender revealing that he didn’t speak to Rooney prior to the announcement of his exclusion, raised a few eyebrows.
“There are only so many times you can speak about it.
“I’ve no idea what the future is for Wayne at Manchester United so it’s impossible for me to comment if he’s part of the plans or not.
“He’s got some big decisions to make this summer – you want your players playing in the biggest possible games.
“Hopefully he’s back playing well – there is no way we would dismiss him from the future.”
Rooney not making the squad for June’s matches against France and Scotland, is no surprise, and a much-needed important call from Southgate. However, the former centre-back, who was capped 57 times by England, should’ve offered Rooney the respect he has earned for his years of service to the national side.
The willingness and quickness in which Rooney is being written out of the English history books, is disrespectful and ungrateful. And all this coming from a nation that now has a squad consisting of the likes of Jake Livermore, Jesse Lingard and Kieran Trippier.
Rooney’s United career is over, and so is his ability to effect games at the highest level, however, outside of Gary Cahill and Joe Hart, there’s a distinct lack of leaders, and those who command respect, within the England ranks.
International games often consist of several players who merely come along to make up the numbers – Southgate has bizarrely chosen four goalkeepers – so having Rooney in and around the squad, would’ve made a lot of sense.
What happens on the football pitch, is all because of what happens off of it, in the pre-match preparation; an arm round the shoulder from Rooney, some words of encouragement or a retelling of his proudest England moments could’ve played a vital role.