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England Must Drop Wayne Rooney or World Cup Will End

Fabio Capello needs to drop the petulant, under-performing bulk of Wayne Rooney from his team, or England may well be on the next flight out of Johannesburg.

Rooney, seen as the one safe-bet in the England line-up pre-tournament, has turned out to be goal-less and clueless in South Africa, while exhibiting the sort of spoilt arrogance that has muddied the name of footballers in recent years.

Now is the time for Capello to take a gamble, and plump for Peter Crouch as the Three Lions' main target man.

Rooney, garlanded with the title of Premier League player of the year, has been a total flop in this World Cup – so far failing to produce a single convincing attempt on goal.

Against Algeria on Friday he was off the pace, and unable to manage the most straight-forward of ball-control; before having the temerity to lambast the fans who had travelled thousands of miles to support him and his team.

It was September last year when Rooney last scored for his country, in he 5-1 qualifying romp over Croatia. While the country has been waiting for him to re-discover his shooting boots, the giant Crouch has rifled-in an impressive five.

Capello should not be afraid to take drastic action – indeed to do so would echo the actions of that other stern disciplinarian England boss Sir Alf Ramsey in 1966.

Then it was Jimmy Greaves who went into the tournament as the nation's sharp-shooter. Ramsey considered him to be mentally and physically out of shape, and dropped him in favour of back-up player Geoff Hurst. And no Englishman will need reminding that it was Hurst's hat-trick in the final that brought England heir only World Cup victory so far.

Critics of Crouch complain that he only scores freely against lesser nations. But, with England desperate for three points against the not-so-mighty Slovenia on Wednesday he is the surest source of goals.

And the added confidence-boost Crouch would derive from a goal or two at this stage of the competition could pay dividends if and when England progress to the later stages.

Training camp sources say Rooney is presently strutting around with a degree of expectation and arrogance that simply isn't borne out by his performances. Now is the time for Capello to take that arrogance down a peg or two.


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