Weight of expectation
Matt Lawton tells the Sunday Supplement England should not burden Wayne Rooney with the captaincy.
Last Updated: 14/10/12 1:27pm
Wayne Rooney has developed a new maturity on the pitch but should not be considered as an England captain of the future, according to the Daily Mail's Matt Lawton.
The Manchester United forward wore the armband for his country against San Marino on Friday night and took centre stage, getting England off the mark with a calm penalty after a nervy start from the hosts and added a second in the 69th minute in a 5-0 win.
Since bursting on the international scene as a teenager Rooney has endured several flashes of indiscipline and fluctuations in form in England colours, including a reckless challenge against Montenegro last year that resulted in him being banned from the opening two matches of Euro 2012.
Lawton told the Sunday Supplement that there is definitely a new level of maturity in Rooney following his Montenegro red card but insists there is already enough expectation on him as England's best player without the added pressure of leading the team.
"I have my concerns with the captain's armband on Rooney," he told the Supplement. "There is clearly a new maturity because I think Montenegro was a bit of an epiphany for him. I think he thought, 'I can't keep doing this, I can't keep getting into trouble because I am suspended for three matches in the Euros'.
"It was reduced to two but the whole period when he thought he would miss the entire group stages, I think he was thinking he has to tone this down.
"He has only had one booking in 44 games prior, and including the other night 45, so he is has clearly gained some maturity. But I put the question to Hodgson the other day and I think it is giving him too much responsibility.
"I think he has enough going on to the pitch every time he plays for England having to be the man that actually delivers. It is almost like success in any tournament is determined by whether Wayne Rooney has a good tournament.
"The England captaincy is different to any other country. We do make it an iconic role and there is a massive media role with it. I would personally give it to somebody else."
Rooney dictated much of the play against San Marino, playing in a deeper role behind Danny Welbeck, and fellow Supplement guest Steve Bates believes that position is where he should be deployed in the future.
The People's journalist said: "I really think midfield is the future for Wayne Rooney, Manchester United have bought Robin van Persie. They have Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez as well, which makes three out and out strikers.
"I think you will find Rooney playing a more withdrawn role for United and he would be absolutely more effective for England in that role.
"People expect Rooney to always produce the goods for England, a little unfairly in my book. I prefer to see Rooney in that deeper role, which he played the other night. He is far more effective there. United play a really quick passing game and they don't labour on the ball.
"England sometimes don't play to the intensity that Manchester United do. If Rooney is playing up front on his own it takes an age for the ball to get to him, by which time he has three defenders around him.
"If he is playing in a more withdrawn role I think we will see much the better of Wayne Rooney. And I don't think it will take away from his scoring abilities because we saw last night that he wasn't the lead striker against San Marino and yet he scored a couple of goals."