England manager Sam Allardyce has claimed Wayne Rooney has the license to play wherever he likes for England.
Rooney featured in midfield during both the latter stages of the 2015/16 season and Euro 2016, only to be restored to No.10 by Jose Mourinho.
The 30-year-old elected to move back into midfield for England’s 1-0 win over Slovakia and visibly struggled, drawing criticism for his immobility and cabaret of misplaced passes.
Speaking after the game, Allardyce declared Rooney had the freedom to play where he sees fit.
“Today Wayne played wherever he wanted to. He was brilliant and controlled [the] midfield. I can’t stop Wayne playing there,” he said.
“This is the most decorated outfield player in England. He’s won everything at Manchester United, more or less, and at Champions League and domestic level. I think that he holds a lot more experience at international football than me as an international manager.
“Using his experience with a team and playing as a team member, it’s not for me to say where he’s going to play. It’s up to me to ask whether he’s doing well in that position and contributing. If so, great.
“We’d like to get him into goalscoring positions more. He’s been a goalscorer all his life and I want him to do that again, but he reads a game as he reads it. He read it very well, we won the game and dominated the game, outplaying the opposition. You can’t forget how difficult it is to play in Slovakia, but we dominated the game.”
This is the major problem with Rooney – managers pander to him. Fergie in his latter years somewhat, Moyes, van Gaal, Mourinho, Hodgson and now Allardyce. What dirt does Rooney have on these managers? I can’t understand it.
One has to question Big Sam’s thought process here: in an earlier interview with Gabriel Clarke, the 61-year-old claimed that Rooney would not play in midfield, only to then give the captain an opportunity to play anywhere for his first game in charge.
With Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson playing as holding midfielders, the platform was set for Rooney to operate in the No.10 role, linking up with Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling. But as it was, he was often found playing even deeper than Henderson and Dier, leaving an enormous gap between midfield attack.
Such dissonance is rooted in Allardyce’s apparent inability to stick to his word, instead giving the depleted captain a painfully easy ride once again, much to the detriment of the entire side.