Andy Cole praises ‘fantastic’ Wayne Rooney despite criticism of form

by Ben Topliss

Andy Cole has praised Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney despite criticism of his form for club and country this season.

Rooney scored just seven goals in the Premier League during the 2015/16 campaign, while the likes of Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane flourished elsewhere.

His critics believe that Man United and England would be better off without Rooney in the side but Cole insisted that the 30-year-old still has a crucial role to play.

“I do feel Wayne deals very with all the pressure. He’s been in the spotlight all his career and a lot is expected of him,” Cole said.

“However you look at it, he’s not a Lionel Messi and not a Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s a totally different kind of player to those guys.

“A lot of expectations are heaped on him, especially when it comes to England. I think people at United appreciate what he does at Old Trafford but it’s even more so with England as people expect England to win major tournaments.

“They think he’ll be like Messi and Ronaldo and take it to everyone week in and week out, and take games by the scruff of the neck at major tournaments. It’s totally different for Wayne and to see him take the stick he’s taken but still bounce back and still score goals and still play football at the highest level is no mean feat. He’s been fantastic.”

Rooney’s versatility has often been his ‘downfall’ down the years as he has been played out of position to accommodate others. He has played on the left wing before and, last season, he was played in the middle of the park by Louis van Gaal.

But to Rooney’s credit, he performed excellently in the role. It really goes to show that he is willing to put the needs of the team above his own and it would be hard to criticise his attitude.

Of course, Rooney is not the player he once was but Jose Mourinho should find a role for him in the starting XI next season.

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