“People forget he’s the greatest English player and the goals he has scored. We’ve all gone through spells where you’re not playing well and it’s a real battle but the way people have talked about him is really disrespectful. It’s a real difficult time because he’s asked to play all these different positions and gets all the flak he does yet he tries his hardest every single game. Then you get people like Gareth Southgate taking him out of the team because of the pressure from the media and I think that’s wrong especially coming off the back of a positive result. Sometimes you have to show people a little faith and for Gareth Southgate to make that call, well I thought that was a little strange. To then put him in front of the media to face the music and say he isn’t going to play was disrespectful and a disgrace in my opinion.
“It’s a different situation at club level. His England performances have been stronger than his performances for Manchester United. Anyone can see that he’s struggled there this season and sometimes it’s not a bad thing to take a back seat. But where England are concerned he has not been the worst player on the pitch by any standards and you have a young manager like Southgate trying to make an impression but you need someone like Wazza around to keep things in check.”
The opening line of Dwight Yorke’s quote during his interview in which he was speaking exclusively to 888sport is one that sticks out for me. Of all the things he says about Wayne Rooney that opening line embodies the belief of those that continue to defend the largely indefensible; they believe that those of us who criticise him forget what the England and Manchester United captain has achieved in his career to date. It is never the case. There are some that are still wrongly hung up on the transfer requests, they allow that to cloud their judgement of a player that has (whether he wanted to or not) stuck with the club through the highest of heights and the lowest of lows. In his prime, Rooney was an integral part of the trophy trail Sir Alex Ferguson enjoyed in the late 2000’s/early 2010’s and though he was never 30 goals a season, Rooney regularly provided the side with goals. We don’t forget that, but there is no harm in admitting his time is drawing to a close.
So much is being written about Rooney now that any deep analysis I go into will be old news, no opinion I have will have been overlooked during conversations in pubs and on the terraces. Gareth Southgate wasn’t disrespecting Rooney by publicly stating he wouldn’t be starting for England, he was sending a message that perhaps the country is not so reliant upon his services anymore. Retrospect serves that England did not win and perhaps the decision wasn’t justified, but it takes a bold man to even entertain the notion that so many have simply not dared to recently; Rooney is well on the demise.
But this is not me forgetting what he has achieved, nor is it Southgate or Mourinho who have both dropped him recently. It’s just the truth, the bare, naked facts laid out in front of us all. 15 years of professional football at the highest level takes it toll on players, and Rooney was never blessed with a physique akin to that of Cristiano Ronaldo or Ryan Giggs. Every dog has its day is a phrase very in keeping with the situation surrounding Rooney, he has had years, perhaps the time is fast approaching to say farewells. Past achievements stop counting when you aren’t hitting the required level.
Read the full 888sport interview with Dwight Yorke, including his thoughts that Liverpool can win the league this year