Rio de Janeiro- Ten years ago after a stunning contribution for England at Euro 2004, the then England manager Sven Goran Eriksson likened Wayne Rooney to Brazilian legend and three-time World Cup winner Pele.
A decade later, Rooney is neither a Roger Milla nor an Asamoah Gyan.
Brazil 2014 is his third World Cup and the England striker is still searching for his first World Cup goal.
It is an indictment on a player who has regularly and maybe imperfectly been referred to as the best English player since Paul Gascoigne. Although he set up Daniel Sturridge for England’s equalizer against Italy in Manus, he was guilty of fluffing England’s best chance for an equaliser in the second half.
Pressure onRooney won’t admit it but the pressure to get the monkey off his back is taking its toll.
And with England suffering defeat to Italy, their game against a vanquished Uruguayan team in Sao Paulo on Thursday is of a whole new significance. That translates to greater pressure.
Rooney has regularly sacrificed himself for the team at club and country level but now may not be the time to be self-effacing.
In as much as England’s qualification is most important, it is his international career at crossroads. This may or may not be his last World Cup but the worrisome truth is that he has featured at three tournaments and drawn blanks.
History won’t remember that the Manchester United striker played the 2006 and 2010 tournaments half fit. History is never kind.
Rooney’s chances to establish himself as an elite World Cup player are slimming.
Shortly before the World Cup, his former club teammate Paul Scholes wondered whether Rooney had already peaked.Scholes was right to ponder the question even if Rooney took umbrage.
A striker with 39 goals in 93 internationals must not allow to be shunted to the left at the biggest stage in the game, especially one who can’t buy a World Cup goal.
Rooney’s confidence has ebbed and it is hurting England.The player Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger once labeled the best young talent they had seen in Britain has an international career at crossroads.
Only last month, Rooney was talking himself up as being in his best possible shape at the World Cup and was not going to create excuses if he disappointed.
He will get a shot at redemption when he lines up against Diego Godin and Diego Lugano.He has no room for failure.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor