Steve McManaman: England will never be contenders with Wayne Rooney in midfield

by Robbie Dunne

Steve McManaman pulled no punches when assessing England’s chances at Euro 2016 with Wayne Rooney in midfield.

Roy Hodgson rested Rooney for England’s last group game preferring to use him as a late substitute, but appears to favour the Manchester United man over Jack Wilshere alongside Eric Dier.

Former Liverpool and Real Madrid man, McManaman, said in his column that Rooney would struggle against world class midfielders.

“What happens when Rooney comes up against a multiple Champions League winner in Spain’s Andres Iniesta? Will he match up to Toni Kroos if England face Germany at some stage of Euro 2016?

“The answer is we don’t know at this stage, but logic would suggest that world class performers who have been playing in this key position throughout their careers should be a few steps ahead of a player who has played most of his career as a central striking players in Rooney.”

McManaman might have a point regarding Rooney coming up against the likes of Iniesta and Kroos but it has to be said that England’s problems do not begin and end with Rooney in the middle. The problem, quite obviously, has been a lack of finishing ability within the squad.

England have had created the second most shots per game, as per WhoScored, with 21.3 but have only scored three goals. They’ve held long spells of possession and dominated opponents without being able to break them down.

This is why McManaman’s remarks, which do have merit, also have a feeling of picking out Rooney for unnecessary criticism when England’s biggest problem will be scoring against the better teams in the knockout stages as opposed to anything Rooney may or may not do.

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