By Calvin Palmer
Anyone seeking a cure for insomnia would be well advised to watch England’s games in Group C of the World Cup Finals.
It is one of the great mysteries of English football as to why highly-talented and vastly over-paid players can perform miracles week in and week out in the Premier League but appear ordinary, mundane, boring and turgid when they don England shirts.
Wayne Rooney was hyped pre-tournament as a world-class player. Against Algeria his first touch let him down time and again and he contributed very little to what was an already poor contribution by the England team.
I am still at a loss as to how Rooney managed to see out the full 90 minutes. A less sycophantic coach than Capello, and one also less bothered by what the newspapers may say, would have substituted Rooney on the hour.
I suppose the logic against such a move is that Rooney is such a world-class player that he could turn the game in England’s favor with one moment of magic. Right!
Anyone wishing to see a true world-class player, and not a poor English imitation, should tune in to Argentina’s final game against Greece on June 22. Just compare the performance of Lionel Messi, assuming that he plays, against Rooney’s performance this afternoon.
Messi plays how a world-class player should play. He can single-handedly destroy the opposition.
Rooney, so far in this competition, looks little better than someone turning out for a pub side on a Sunday morning.
To earn the title of world-class a player has to deliver the goods on the world stage. Messi does exactly that. Rooney, on the other hand, has failed abysmally, so much so that I doubt Manchester United fans recognize him as the same player who regularly turns on the magic at Old Trafford.
In Rooney’s defense, I would surmise that the ankle injury he sustained towards the end of the English Premier League season is still giving him trouble. Something is clearly ailing him and maybe that accounts for his poor performance in England’s last two games. Or maybe he is just simply a good player in the Premier League but out of his depth in international competition.
To counter any arguments that to single out Rooney for criticism is unfair, especially since the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have also failed to reproduce their club form in England’s last two matches, it must be pointed out that neither Gerrard nor Lampard are described as “world-class”.
This article is more an attack on the hype by the British media and Manchester United acolytes, which has erroneously labeled Rooney as a world-class player. But that is the British media, it builds people up far beyond their actual capabilities because Britain must be seen to have a representative of the best the world can offer.
In the days of the British Empire, Britian did lead the world in terms of achievements but Britain’s pre-eminence in a great many fields has been on the wane since 1945. Sadly, it is an irreversible trend, especially where football is concerned.