Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: Get your finger out Rooney

Diego Maradona and Pele are the two stand-out players to take the World Cup by the scruff of the neck and virtually win it single-handed.

“You look at those two and if you can do half of what they have achieved, then that would be great.”

The words of Wayne Rooney.

Half of what they achieved?

Sorry mate, you are going to have to go the full monty if England are to win this World Cup.

In true Scouse style, he may get a little help from his friend Steven Gerrard, but Rooney is going to have to start firing to make his and England’s stay in South Africa a long one.

Wayne stated yesterday that he got easily bored inside the England camp.

“It's hard at the minute,” he said.

“We play snooker now and then, a game of darts but there's only so much you can play. Thankfully the games are on now and we watch them. Takes a bit of the boredom away. Sometimes it's a long day. But for the training and the games it's worth it.”

Given those comments he’ll be itching to play against Algeria tomorrow night then.

It is a match that England must win.

And a match in which Rooney must finally deliver his World Cup promise.

This is his second experience of the greatest show on earth having been in Germany four years ago.

Back then he made a miracle recovery from injury to play.

But he did little bar get himself sent off in the quarter-final against Portugal for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho.

That was Rooney’s World Cup legacy coming into these finals — hardly the stuff of Pele or Maradona.

There were high hopes that he would explode against the United States in England’s opening match of this tournament.

He was going to rip the Americans apart, showing them that a boy brought up on football would beat those soccer-playing Yanks any day.

It didn’t work out like that.

Rooney, as always, was not short on effort, but he was short on quality. Certainly the quality that England will need to win this thing.

For Manchester United he was at his best last season when he played up front on his own.

It is a strategy that Capello has considered, with Gerrard acting as chief support.

The Italian, though, may wait until later in the tournament when the opposition is stronger to unleash that Scouse power.

Emile Heskey was Rooney’s partner for most of the game with USA.

Then Peter Crouch came on to partner England’s top man.

The talk is that Capello is thinking about including Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe from the start.

It won’t really matter who is playing alongside him against Algeria, if Rooney clicks into gear himself.

Rooney believes the tournament is wide open and he has a point, but frankly the bottom line is unless he can take the World Cup by the scruff of the neck, just as Maradona and Pele did in the past, England won’t be going home with it.

Belfast Telegraph


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