The pain of Wayne
The Soccer Saturday experts give their verdicts on where it all went wrong for Wayne Rooney.
Last Updated: 01/07/10 1:37pm
England's World Cup dreams ended in tatters - and here at skysports.com we've asked some of our top pundits to pick through the wreckage.
Our Soccer Saturday panel - Matt Le Tissier, Paul Merson, Phil Thompson, Charlie Nicholas and Alan McInally - have taken time to reflect on England's disappointing efforts in South Africa, which ended after a 4-1 humbling by Germany in the last 16.
In the coming days, the panel will look at where it went wrong for Fabio Capello and the players - and what the future holds for both the head coach and for the national game.
But first we've asked them to look at the performance of England's talisman Wayne Rooney.
Hopes were high that the PFA Player of the Year would shine on the biggest stage of all after his best ever goalscoring season for Manchester United, but he failed to find the net in four matches and did not manage to recapture his club form.
Our experts tell us why they think it went wrong for the England striker...
skysports.com: Hopes were high among many of you that this could have been Wayne Rooney's World Cup. What did you make of his performance out in South Africa?
MERSE: We played every game with 10 men because he just didn't turn up. We all sit here week after week on Soccer Saturday saying what a top, top player he is and you know that in any game for Manchester United he's going to do at least one thing that demonstrates that. Before the World Cup we were putting him alongside the Lionel Messi's of the world, but it is these tournaments that separate the good players from the unbelievable players. You can have good days and bad days but even on a bad day they do something, even one thing, that makes you think 'he's a player' - that hasn't been the case and it is hard to put them in the same breath, it really is.
CHARLIE: People are saying Rooney didn't turn up to this World Cup. Well I think he did. Unfortunately his manager didn't turn up with the right ideas to utilise him properly. The thing that is staring me in the face is the lack of change that Fabio Capello was prepared to negotiate with regards to his formation. Rooney's form this season deservedly won him the Player of the Year award and we've seen his whole game develop in the Premier League this season. He has scored more with his head than he's ever done and he has led the line from the front for Manchester United, while still linking up with the players around him. Everything was there, ready to go at the World Cup. However, if you start making Rooney be disciplined in a 4-4-2 system then you're only going to see the Wayne Rooney of three years ago. It was unnecessary and the manager got it badly wrong.
LE TISS: I think it looked like he wasn't 100 per cent. I think he was probably carrying a bit of an injury but he was also struggling to cope with the ball. I've never seen him miscontrol a ball so much or make so many passes which went astray. It really looked like he was struggling with it, which is strange for someone of his ability. He didn't hold the ball up at all and that's very unlike him.
MERSE: He started off badly and just didn't get any better. He must have been injured, because I can't think of anything he did in all four games. Maybe that four-yard pass to put in Steven Gerrard, but other than that, nothing. I'm sorry but something had to be wrong, because I was sat there feeling embarrassed that I have been calling him a top, top player.
CHARLIE: He might have had a niggle here or there, but for me it's nothing to do with fitness. Rooney's proved this season that he can come back and play well with a slight injury. The medical guys would have stopped him playing if there was a problem with him, so I just think excuses like that come out too quickly.
THOMMO: We never saw the Wayne Rooney that plays for Manchester United and I think it was a lot to do with the hype going into the World Cup finals. There was a lot written about the fact that he could get himself sent off and that he had to keep himself in check and make sure he didn't let the country down and I just don't think he could get down to playing his normal game. At Man Utd he's always chasing people down and getting tackles in and is generally quite aggressive on the pitch, but with England he was playing within himself and I just don't think he could function like that.
McINALLY: He had a poor World Cup and that was down to one thing - he wasn't fully fit after last season, simple as that. It had nothing to do with fear or form or anything else. After running the show for Manchester United last season I think he was just absolutely exhausted. End of.
CHARLIE: I don't think it was anything to do with that. I just think the formation and the set-up of the team was wrong. He was easier to mark in that formation, he got frustrated and came deeper, his best link-up man Steven Gerrard was playing wide on the left and they couldn't get Frank Lampard running in behind him because of the system. You can dress it up, but sadly I just think the manager got it wrong.