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Biting back

By Stuart McKinley

I don't know what the back pages of the papers in all 32 of the countries playing at the World Cup are saying, but no doubt the English media are – yet again – out on their own.

Even after a performance that was, by his own standards, extremely poor, I can't imagine the Portuguese press asking whether or not Cristiano Ronaldo should play in their next match against the USA.

Before a ball was kicked though Wayne Rooney found himself under criticism.

And the critics have had more fuel to add to their fire after the defeat to Italy.

Fair enough, he probably should have done better with the couple of chances he had and at least tested the Italian's stand-in goalkeeper.

The barbs being thrown at Rooney for not giving left-back Leighton Baines more protection are, for me, an absolute joke. Play him out of position and that's what you get.

Drop him for the Uruguay game? Be careful what you wish for.

Where do you play him? In the position where he will cause most concern for the opposition, not where he's going to create problems for his own team.

Rooney is one of the smartest players England have ever had – certainly since Paul Gascoigne – and to get the best out of him he needs to be played in his best position – not squeezed into an unfamiliar role to accommodate someone with added defensive duties that stifle his qualities.

Others should be shifted to accommodate Rooney if that's what it takes.

It's up to you, Roy.

Belfast Telegraph


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