Wayne Rooney was subject to jeers after his performance for England in the 2-0 win over Malta this weekend.
Playing in a midfield role, Rooney didn’t influence the game much at all in the positive sense and his partner Jordan Henderson put in a much stronger shift which led to some boos inside Wembley.
It’s not a surprise for Manchester United fans to see Rooney playing so poorly and if we’re being honest it’s no surprise to England fans either but despite the lack of energy in his game, Gareth Southgate and some of the other England players were surprised by the jeers. Here’s what they had to say about it.
Gareth Southgate: “I presented him with a cap in the week for being the record (outfield) cap holder with his country. It’s fascinating to get an insight into his world over the last 10 days. Every debate seems to focus on him.
“The onus on him is enormous, the criticism of him is, at times, unfair and he ploughs on and plays with pride and captains his country with pride.
“I look back to the (John) Terrys, the (Frank) Lampards, the Ashley Coles – in their time with England they took an enormous amount of criticism and yet, if you look at the caps they won, they kept turning out and really put themselves on the line.
“Some other players have not put themselves forward at those moments and withdrawn from squads when the going has got tough.
“Those guys are the people that really have desperately wanted to play for England again and again and again, and put their neck on the block. And I think Wayne falls into that category.
“I don’t understand (the booing) but that seems to be the landscape. I have no idea how that is expected to help him, for sure.”
John Stones: “I’m a bit shocked that that has happened to be honest,” he said when he was made aware of the crowd’s reaction to Rooney.
“I didn’t realise that had happened. I thought Wayne was brilliant tonight and has been every time he has played for England, he wears his heart on his sleeve, gives 110 per cent, I think you can see that in every performance.
“In my opinion he is always up there, he is always on form, the top players are always going to get the stick that gets piled on them because of the standards they set.
“He has never dropped that once in the training or in the game and I think that is why he has been a top player for so long.”
Dele Alli: “I didn’t hear any of that but Wayne is a fantastic player, a big part of this team and he is a leader. Definitely, it is always good to have the fans behind you and we have got to make a lot of things right as a team now and keep winning games.”
United fans might not like Rooney but booing isn’t really our main vent towards him, we just don’t want to see him in the starting XI – it’s as simple as that.
When the cries are getting this loud and this widespread, criticism towards Rooney cannot simply be ignored any more. Jose Mourinho certainly hasn’t having dropped him for United’s last three games and as great a servant as Rooney has been for both club and country, you can see the curtains starting to close on his career as a guaranteed starter.
He can still do a job in the right role at the right time but the days of Rooney being indispensable for United and England are behind him and the sooner he accepts that new role, the sooner he can genuinely re-shape his career and start to get the best out of himself again. Until he does that, boos and jeers will only get louder.