The British press surprisingly lenient in its assessment of England’s 2-1 loss to Italy in its World Cup opener over the weekend, but struggling forward Wayne Rooney once again found himself on the wrong side of a few pundits’ critiques. While the Manchester United forward failed to hit the target in three shots, his sublimely weighted pass set up Daniel Sturridge for England’s only goal of the game.
Afterward, former England coach Graham Taylor remarked that Rooney’s performance had failed to live up to the standard expected of him. "I think when you are a player of Wayne Rooney's quality and you don't match those high standards, you are going to get criticized," the BBC pundit said.
Meawhile, Paul Scholes, Rooney’s former Manchester United teammate who recently described the 28-year-old as past his best, said he was more disappointed in England coach Roy Hodgson for playing Rooney out of position on the left, where he would be forced to defend deep. "The disappointing thing was not the way Wayne Rooney played but where he was played," Scholes wrote in a blog post for Paddy Power. "I don't blame Wayne one little bit but he was played in three different positions. He's without a doubt England's best goalscorer but he was played on the left, played on the right, then in the center. "Where's the confidence in Wayne to say: 'You're our main player. You're our center forward'? If he plays there, he scores goals."
England is currently third in Group D with zero points, three points behind both Italy in second and Costa Rica, which beat Uruguay 3-1 on Saturday, in first. Uruguay is fourth behind England with zero points and a -2 goal differential.