Another new dawn for England, and a new captain to take them into it. Wayne Rooney has been given the armband for Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions, as the Manchester United man combines his leadership responsibilities with the Red Devils with those for his country. The move was largely predictable, but it will no doubt divide opinion regardless.
In terms of international experience, there is no one to hold a candle to Wayne Rooney within the England set-up anymore. Whilst the rest of the squad are pushing toward their 50th caps, Rooney is racing towards his 100th. The striker has been involved in the international team since he was a teenager, and he has managed to net 40 times whilst on England duty.
Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole have all stepped down from their roles with the England team this summer, meaning that there really exists nobody else in consideration, if the choosing of a captain was based upon statistics alone.
However, the character of a man needs also to be taken into consideration when choosing a team captain as well, and Rooney appears to have plenty of the desired personality attributes. Whilst he has never truly performed in an England shirt – or at least that is an opinion held by many – there is no denying that the player doesn’t try his best. Even when Rooney is having a bad game, his work-rate and desire are very commendable.
That competitive edge to his game could turn him into a very good example-setter, particularly given the amount of young talent that is coming through the England ranks. Whilst being determined to win doesn’t necessarily mean that you will, it is a very good attitude to drill into a team regardless.
A combination of experience and attitude has also led to a huge amount of respect being granted to Rooney within the England team. The player is well-liked in the dressing room, looked up to by the younger players, and appreciated by some of the older ones. He has achieved plenty at club level and has picked up many personal awards – whilst the supporters can get on his back at times, his teammates are not likely to turn against him. The appointment of Rooney as captain makes the most sense if Hodgson wants to maintain balance within the squad.
Finally, the player’s position and style of play will have been significant when Hodgson was narrowing down his shortlist. There seems no single player in the England team that covers as much ground or pops up in as many positions as Rooney. He is a forward first and foremost, but it is not surprising to see him helping out at left-back or pushing over to right wing. If needs must, he’d probably play in goal.
A captain must be able to see the game unfold, he must be confident enough to comment on it, and he can’t be intimidated by his teammates. Rooney has all of those boxes ticked. Not only can he influence the game when he is on form, but he can understand it when he is not. Of all the England players at present, he is one of a very few that could consider their starting position relatively safe, and he is likely to become an even greater presence now that he has the armband.
Rooney will always have his critics, it is unavoidable given his heightened profile, but for this writer Roy Hodgson has got this one right. There is no one else in the England team who more adequately fill the requirements to be the Three Lions captain. Rooney now has the armband, he deserves the armband, and he is likely to continue wearing it until his international career is drawn to a close.