Monday 24 October 2016

Wayne Rooney has plenty to offer club and country, say Ferdinand and Hoddle

Published 16/10/2016 | 09:51

England captain Wayne Rooney's role and selection have been subject to debate
England captain Wayne Rooney's role and selection have been subject to debate

Rio Ferdinand and Glenn Hoddle have backed Wayne Rooney to regain his place with Manchester United and England.

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Rooney has struggled to hold down a first-team place at United this season and was left on the bench for England's goalless draw with Slovenia in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

Ferdinand, a predecessor of Rooney as captain of United and England, recalled being told late in his career by then United manager Sir Alex Ferguson that his game needed to change.

He wrote in the Sunday Times: "I've been where Wayne Rooney is. What's happened to him in the past couple of months will have left him feeling embarrassed and hurt but he can also reshape himself.

"He's been trying to do that in midfield, where there's more time on the ball, but I agree with Jose Mourinho, who sees him as a number nine or number 10, and in the number 10 role Wayne can become the guy who feeds the other attackers.

"He will have to fight for that number 10 job with some very good players at United but many people are too quick to dismiss him.

"Look at Italy's older players and what they bring tactically to a squad. Francesco Totti, Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini were looked on as icons. You don't just throw talent away.

"Wayne hadn't played as well as in the past but clamouring to take him out of the England team made no sense. Unless you have players who are a lot better, you don't throw away somebody like him.

"It's more understandable being on United's bench because they have better players and Mourinho is searching for the right permutations."

Former England manager Hoddle agrees both that Rooney still has value and that he would be better utilised in an advanced role.

"I doubt whether either Jose Mourinho or Gareth Southgate would want to lose a player of Rooney's experience right now," he wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

"You only have to decide what is right for this team in the next game. That might mean Wayne starting at times or being on the bench.

"I still believe his best position is closer to the penalty area than where he played against Malta, when he was deeper in midfield. He can still play as a number nine or a number 10.

"But where I would like to see him is in a midfield three. Not in a deep role as the holding player but playing higher up, alongside Dele Alli or Adam Lallana. Then they can alternate their runs. Rather than having a solitary number 10 behind the striker, you would have a number eight and a number 10 alternating in the role.

"Wayne is not in a situation where he needs to be discarded by club or country. My belief is that eventually he will be playing well enough to get himself back in this United team and stay in. And at that point he will be back in the England team as well."

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