Slovenia manager Srecko Katanec has claimed he is not surprised by Wayne Rooney‘s omission from the starting XI for England’s World Cup qualifier with his side on Tuesday.
Interim manager Gareth Southgate handed Rooney an opportunity to impress in midfield against Malta on Saturday, but an abject display from the 30-year-old prompted jeers from some sections of the Wembley crowd.
It was recently revealed, in the wake of such a poor performance, Rooney would start on the bench for England’s clash with Slovenia in Ljubljana.
Speaking at a press conference, Katanec noted the Englishman’s exclusion is wholly unsurprising.
“I would not be surprised if he was dropped,” Katanec said.
“Wayne Rooney is a leader of this team, he has the experience a captain needs and it is quite hard to substitute him or leave him out.
“But it is also true that he is not the youngest anymore and maybe his form has taken a little dip.
“Because of his experience and quality I would rather he would not start than he does start.”
It is now a mainstream notion that Rooney’s presence in the starting XI for both club and country has been unhealthily elongated. The 30-year-old was, for quite some time, heartbeat of English football, acting as a symbol of danger and true menace in an otherwise mediocre squad.
And it is perhaps for this reason alone that Rooney managed to dodge football’s meritocratic law for so long. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t on form, it was still Rooney. Such an attitude was adopted by the likes of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Roy Hodgson and Sam Allardyce, until Jose Mourinho and Gareth Southgate finally broke the trend, much to the benefit of both Manchester United and England supporters.