Newly appointed England manager Sam Allardyce has had his say on what position Wayne Rooney will be playing for the national team, that it would be where he plays at Manchester United. Allardyce has also assured that Rooney still has a big part to play in the England setup. Allardyce will be monitoring how, and more specifically where, Rooney will play under new United manager Jose Mourinho before deciding on how he would incorporate Rooney into his England side, as he mentioned in a press briefing, reported by Sky Sports.
“I still think Wayne Rooney still has a massive place to play in the England side. I don’t think there is any doubt about that.
“I think Jose will determine [where he plays for England]. If Jose says he is not going to play him in centre midfield and he is playing up front and scoring goals for Manchester United, then it would be pointless me bringing him into England and playing him in centre midfield.”
During last summer’s European Championship, Rooney was played in centre midfield by then manager Roy Hodgson, to generally solid results on his part. But Mourinho has since stated that he will not be deploying Rooney in midfield, preferring to play him as a striker or behind the striker in the number 10 role.
It certainly makes sense for national team managers to play players in the positions they play at club level. If Allardyce were to play Rooney in midfield despite Mourinho playing him in attack, Rooney will not be adequately prepared to play in a completely different role with just a few days of training. That being said if Rooney ends up being played in the same position but in completely different systems, or at the expense of playing other players out of position, it could also create problems.
Take how Hodgson used Raheem Sterling in the 2014 World Cup as an example. Sterling was, and still is, predominantly known to be a winger. But he took a surprising starring role through the middle for his then club Liverpool, behind strikers Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez in a diamond formation, as they came close to winning touching distance of the Premier League title. As a result, Hodgson played him in the same number 10 role, except this time in a 4-2-3-1 formation. In the process, he also shunted Rooney wide to accommodate Sterling. Net result: a group stage exit.
Also, if national team managers use players in a different position to where they play at their clubs, they would be throwing form out of the window. If Allardyce cares about club form enough to play Rooney where he plays at United, will he then take the extra step and drop him if he plays poorly or loses his place?
“I don’t know until that happens with anybody, let alone Wayne Rooney.
“Like everything else, you wait until the season starts. I hope there are standout players all over the place when the Premier League starts. I hope it’s a hugely difficult task for me to pick my first squad.
“I do think form at a football club has a place when you are making your selection.”
It does seem like while form is a consideration, it is not the only or probably even the main consideration for Allardyce’s squad. If he feels that Rooney is the right option for the type of football he wants to play, he will call him up. Although, if there does, in fact, emerge standout players in Rooney’s position, and Rooney himself isn’t one of them, Allardyce could be in for a difficult decision.