Wayne Rooney cut a dejected figure as he trudged off the field against Uruguay. As an international player it is disappointing to lose but to be eliminated from the World Cup so early is an extra special disappointment.
Rooney’s goal scoring record for England is impressive with 40 goals in 95 appearances. At least he has now broken his World Cup duck and scored in finals itself, rather than just the qualifying campaigns. However, what can we now expect for Wayne Rooney’s international future?
With a reputed £18 Million annual salary further England duty could just become a nuisance to both the player and club. Reportedly, Ryan Giggs should have achieved many more caps for Wales than he did but he rarely played in friendlies and Alex Ferguson often kept him out of Welsh squads that were not for competitive matches.
Harry Redknapp has been vocal in recent weeks regarding club players trying to get out of England duty. Playing for your country used to be the pinnacle of a player’s career but with so many friendlies and qualifying matches against very minor opposition many players are under pressure from club managers (and agents) to skip international duty altogether.
With league, cup and European competition all taking their toll on a squad of elite players, I can understand the manager reluctant to release them for international friendly matches that have little significance. On the other hand, for the England manger, these matches are vital to experiment with tactics and to find out what his best team is. After all, do club managers not use pre-season friendlies for the very same purpose?
At 28 years old Wayne Rooney certainly has another European Championships and World Cup in him and I think everyone would agree he has yet to show his club talent on the international stage. However, as age takes its toll on his speed and reaction times will his club manger want to release him to play in international friendly’s? In fact, will he even want to release him to competitive fixtures against teams England will win with ease such as (and no disrespect to) Moldova, Lichtenstein, San Marino and Gibraltar.
With an £18 Million salary international football will always take a back seat to club football, especially where players want to be playing week in and week out. It has been known for club managers to punish players for playing international friendlies by dropping them in the next league match or only giving them a run out in minor cup competition with the youngsters, against a minor team.
Perhaps Louis Van Gaal will be a different club manager. As a former international manager he will know the importance of the international friendly and what it means to the manager. So, perhaps he will be more forgiving and allow his club players the freedom to play in more international fixtures. That said, the pressures on club managers at elite clubs like Manchester United are enormous and he may forget his own past and insist that his players skip the odd friendly or two.
But what of the future of international friendly matches? What is the value of releasing a player only for him to play for ten minutes of the second half because the manager is not sure if he fits his system of play? It’s a big risk for club manager who may value the player much more than his international counterpart does.
Wayne Rooney for one is at a cross roads internationally speaking. Where does he play best? Is he still a world class player anymore? How long can he keep up with the youngsters for? Is the England manger grooming a replacement? These are such harsh questions to ask of a guy who is only 28 years old but that salary does bring with it certain expectations on his ability at both club and international level.