Another summer tournament, another in which arguments began as to where Wayne Rooney should play in the England side.
Many have said he should operate as a No. 10, the position in which he plays for Manchester United, but that forced Juan Mata onto the wings when he played there where his influence was limited. When Mata played as a No. 10, he shone with six goals and six assists.
So where does that leave Rooney at club level and international level? In short, he should be nowhere near the starting XI at the moment.
Rooney burst on the scene as a boy with a man’s body but years of unhealthy habits have left the striker with a body which belies the fact he is still just 28.
Once upon a time, he had a fantastic burst of pace and was able to play in any position across the front four with consummate ease. His style of play left many fans wondering who would be the bigger talent out of Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.
That used to nearly be a equal contest, now Ronaldo is the unequivocal winner. So where does Rooney now stand? On the edge of a precipice.
Last season, David Moyes pandered to a player who was trying to leave for the second time in four seasons due to no longer being the star man at Old Trafford.
In return, he scored 19 goals in 40 matches and finished as the top scorer but at what cost? Rooney staying set the scene for a season of dressing room unrest with many believing the striker was undeserving of the faith put into him.
With a succession of injuries, Rooney’s form tailed off towards the end of the season and with the departure of Moyes, he faces another autocratic boss with a penchant for Dutch strikers.
Van Gaal favours a 4-3-3 formation and it wouldn’t be too difficult to guess where Van Persie will slot in. Rooney, however, who knows?
He no longer possesses the turn of pace which defined him early in his career and he seems to be losing his passing ability which earned him comparisons with Paul Scholes.
Some have suggested putting Rooney in midfield, in a manner Scholes was transformed in his career but Rooney has only played there a few times, particularly against teams lower in the table and although he has impressed against the likes of Stoke, he doesn’t possess the positional sense, nor the first touch, to be a success there against bigger sides. That experiment could end up the same as the Alan Smith one who is now out of a club following a poor season at MK Dons.
With the way the game is developing, what both United and England need is a lot more pace. All the best international sides have players who play pace and are able to pick a pass in the blink of an eye. Holland have Robben and Van Persie, Germany simply have an abundance of fast midfielders with and even Costa Rica had Joel Campbell, whose pace alone tormented Uruguay.
England possess those kind of players. Ross Barkley is the best young player England have seen in a long time. Daniel Sturridge is a fantastic finisher and his pace can torment any defence. Raheem Sterling impressed against Italy, despite being often outnumbered in midfield.
For United and England to succeed in future, they may have to do it without Rooney.
If he can’t fit in the side when there are better options available, then for the benefit of the side, he needs to be excluded.
For too long now, Rooney has been living on the borrowed promise of his youth.