McClaren: Rooney praise may wait
Published 21/08/2015 | 23:23
Former England boss Steve McClaren believes Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney may not be fully appreciated until 10 years after he hangs up his boots.
McClaren, now in charge at Newcastle, takes his side to Old Trafford on Saturday amid an ongoing debate over Rooney's form - or the perceived lack of it - after being asked to play as a lone frontman by Louis van Gaal.
The 54-year-old, who worked with the former Everton player during his spell in charge of the national team, has no doubt about his enduring quality for both club and country.
However, he forecast that Rooney, who is currently just one short of sir Bobby Charlton's record of 49 England goals, may have to wait to receive the praise he deserves.
McClaren said: "However much you may criticise, when he is long gone and finished and you look back, he will be one of the greatest ever to play for England. He may not be appreciated now, but he will be in 10 years' time.
"That is always the way of things - and probably his best is still to come.
"People say he has never delivered on the big stage, but I have been involved with him with England. In Portugal in 2004, that was his tournament, only for him to pick up that injury. You wonder what might have happened. We thought we had a real chance with this boy.
"As for not delivering in tournaments, it is a team game and too often, the team has not delivered in major finals, so it is very difficult for him. It is the same thing levelled at [Lionel] Messi.
"Footballers are never appreciated at the time, but he will be in 10 years."
McClaren is acutely aware of the danger Rooney, 29, will represent to the Magpies, who tried themselves to sign him and have been made to pay for missing out regularly ever since, as he attempts to steady the ship after last weekend's defeat at Swansea.
Asked if there was a danger he could be suffering from bun-out, he replied: "No, I do not think there is a risk of burn out. He has been playing since he was 16 and always playing above his age in terms of wisdom and physicality."
McClaren could throw new £13million signing Florian Thauvin straight into the mix with the 22-year-old arriving to contrasting reviews having been touted as a man who could one day play for one of the top clubs in Europe by Newcastle and Marseille old boy Chris Waddle, and also named in L'Equipe's worst team of last season.
Thauvin said: "I hope to be one of the best players in the world. I need to make sure I work hard to achieve that goal."