England manager Sam Allardyce has insisted Wayne Rooney has not forgotten about his goalscoring duties for the national side.
The new England boss has given out mixed signals with regard to Rooney’s role within the side, initially claiming the 30-year-old would not play in midfield, only to then give him the license to drop back into a deep lying midfield role against Slovakia on Sunday.
Rooney was once again subject to criticism from all corners during England’s 1-0 win in Trivana, with many pointing out the detrimental effect his decision to vacate the No.10 role to play deeper had on the side as a whole.
Speaking after the game, Big Sam made it clear Rooney has not forgotten his role as a goalscorer for the England side.
Allardyce on Rooney: 'Me & Wayne’s relationship as we grow will always be to promote him as captain. He's not to forget we want him to score
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) September 6, 2016
Giving Rooney freedom of the pitch, as Allardyce has done, will always lead to disastrous results. By nature, the captain wants as many touches on the ball as possible, and clearly feels more comfortable playing deeper. It is a common trend as attacking players enter the latter stages of career: Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard all did the same.
But in his particular case, with Rooney dropping back alongside Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson, a monumental gap between midfield and attack is left, as exemplified in the first half against Slovakia.
There are two antidotes to this problem: either Rooney acquires some discipline and stays in that No.10 role, drawing in defenders and creating space, or somebody from deeper in midfield moves forward and occupies that role, as if changing positions with Rooney. At Manchester United, that second solution if possible, since the likes of Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini all possess the aptitude to burst forward and perform the function of a No.10.
With England, however, such a thing cannot happen. I mean, imagine Henderson playing as a No.10. Seriously.
Rooney, in the interest of England’s fortunes, needs to perform the role that suits the side, and not the role that suits him in the future.