Commentary

Rooney omission marks new era for England

The dropping of captain Wayne Rooney is not the only message being sent to England’s national team players.

When the squad chosen by Coach Gareth Southgate convenes next week to prepare for a friendly in Germany and World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, the former international defender intends to inform the players of where they stand on the world stage and why it’s not good enough.

“We need to look at who the top teams are and how we get to their level,” said Southgate, capped 57 times by England. “I was in a team that made a semifinal [at the 1996 European Championships] and that has happened once since 1990. It’s my job to analyse what hasn’t been right and then show the lads a pathway. They will then decide whether they want to come on it or not. I think we need to be pretty brutal about the way we look at it.”

Among those not selected for a 26-man squad is Arsenal attacker Theo Walcott, but the dramatic exclusion of Rooney, who has fallen out of the starting lineup for Manchester United, may indicate his national team career his ending at age 31. Instilled as the team captain two and a half years ago and England's all-time top scorer with 53 international goals, Rooney was summoned in the fall during Southgate’s stint as caretaker manager but not for his first camp as the full-time boss.

“We have to look at Wayne as a No. 10, which is his predominant role,” Southgate said. “In the last two games we’ve played Dele Alli there and we’ve played Adam Lallana there. Both are playing very well, scoring and assisting for their clubs. Ross Barkley has been playing very well for his club. So there’s competition. I can’t dress it up any other way. There are some very good players and it’s a battle to get in this squad.”

Southgate has called up Rooney’s United teammate Luke Shaw, who has also been edged out of the starting lineup. England is a bit thin at left back, however, as first-choice Danny Rose is injured, and so the selection is consistent with Southgate’s contention that Rooney has fallen too far down the depth chart despite the player’s declaration that he is clear of injury and fit to play. 

Rooney has been invited to a squad meeting Monday to hear from Southgate a stark assessment of where the players stand
. “One of the things I want to talk about is the fact we always talk about what we’d like to achieve but don’t actually look at the reality of where we are,” said Southgate. “Whatever we think we are as a nation, we’ve not been delivering. We seem to have won medals in almost every other sport. Ours is the missing piece.

“That drives me on as much as anything: the need to start recognising where we really are and how we bridge the gap. Sometimes we get wrapped up in the profile of our league, yet eight to 10 years ago we were always involved in Champions League semi-finals and finals. That just isn’t the case any more.”

The stirring saga of Leicester City, which is the only English team remaining in the Champions’ League final eight, is balanced by Arsenal’s crushing 10-2 aggregate loss to Borussia Dortmund and the thrilling yet exasperating elimination of Manchester City by Monaco on away goals in their incredible 6-6 series.

Southgate is also of the mindset that the glamor and money of the Premier League gives a false buoyancy to evaluation of English players. Measured on the world stage, in the major competitions, England is not a top tier team.

“I remember going to the World Cup in Brazil, scouting for the FA,” said Soutgate, “and watching all the montages before games to show the highlights of previous tournaments and it suddenly struck me: ‘We’re not on any, none of our players are on them.’ We think we’re whatever, but I’m looking at the screen and there’s all the Brazilians, the Spaniards, the French, and we’re not there. And I’m almost sinking into my seat because you walk in there thinking you’re part of England, massively proud, but actually on the world stage, we’re not there at the moment. And I think part of trying to affect that is to start saying: ‘Listen, these are the realities.’”

Walcott didn’t react well to the news he’d been dropped when Southgate called Thursday to inform him. With 17 goals in all competitions for the Gunners, Walcott has scored more goals than any of the players on the squad. The call also came on his 28th birthday.

“I’ve got to say he wasn’t chuffed to bits to get the call,” Southgate said. “And I understand that. Did he argue his case? Yes. Quite rightly, he said: ‘I’m one of the leading goalscorers in the league.’

“I don’t mind being challenged on that. I totally respect that. I don’t expect him to be happy but I’ve got to make decisions and I think it was the right thing to call him to talk that through – even if the timing wasn’t great.”

Former England coach Roy Hodgson omitted Walcott from England’s squad last year for the European Championships. Upon taking over for Hodgson Southgate had always called Walcott but apparently wasn’t impressed by his play in the last three games for England; Walcott started in the World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia in October and came on as a substitute in a friendly against Spain in November.

“I don’t think he transferred his early-season form into the matches we had in October and November with England,” Southgate said.

England roster:

Goalkeepers -- Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Torino, on loan from Man City), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders -- Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man Utd), Michael Keane (Burnley), Luke Shaw (Man Utd), Chris Smalling (Man Utd), John Stones (Man City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham). 

Midfielders -- Dele Alli (Tottenham), Michail Antonio (West Ham), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Man Utd), Jake Livermore (West Brom), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Nathan Redmond (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Man City), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton).

Strikers -- Jermain Defoe (Sunderland), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd), Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

20 comments about "Rooney omission marks new era for England".
  1. Cathy Rock, March 17, 2017 at 9:36 p.m.

    So you DO know Rooney is injured, correct? He may not have been called up anyway but he is injured. So throw your theories out the door. Now if you want to talk age and someone who should be on the way out, let's talk Dempsey. He has 3 more years of life on him than Rooney not to mention the serious health issues of the past year. Calling him up is a huge risk. Besides health, he is going to want to prove himself and have the limelight as is Dempsey character and nothing wrong with it. But after all, that is now dangerous to US. The entire roster of forwards is made up of players in the Retiree's League aka MLS. Thank heavens for strong intl experienced defense and the blessing of Tim Howard. So if you want to start rumours of who didn't get called up and why and who should be on their way out...at least base it on some fact.

  2. Quarterback TD replied, March 17, 2017 at 10:51 p.m.

    Cathy, the coach clearly stated why Rooney was dropped..please see excerpt below.. Rooney been going through a lot of criticism since 2010 World Cup as well as his own club ManU and that may have affected him...he needs to understand that this coach is not going to give a free ride and he will need to earn it the old fashion way.

    “We have to look at Wayne as a No. 10, which is his predominant role,” Southgate said. “In the last two games we’ve played Dele Alli there and we’ve played Adam Lallana there. Both are playing very well, scoring and assisting for their clubs. Ross Barkley has been playing very well for his club. So there’s competition. I can’t dress it up any other way. There are some very good players and it’s a battle to get in this squad.”

  3. Quarterback TD, March 17, 2017 at 10:42 p.m.

    The player I consider one of the best 3 strikers in world is not there (Harry Kane).. I really hope he is temporarily omitted because of injury..Anyway this is the right approach the coach is taking as England has for too long underachieved. Some blame it on the premier league which uses too many foreigners and some blame it for players playing each game too conservatively so they don't get injured. However the coach should not rush to judgement of players until he himself prove worthy to be the coach. England could have won the World Cup in 1986 if Maradona hand ball was denied and since then the national team been terrible hopefully this changes things.

  4. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 18, 2017 at 9:55 a.m.

    If you're such a big fan of Kane you'd know he was hurt last week.

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 18, 2017 at 9:56 a.m.

    Also quite a huge stretch to suggest England would have won the 1986 world cup if not for the hand of God. No guarantee they would've beaten Argentina, let along win the semi and the final.

  6. Quarterback TD replied, March 18, 2017 at 10:40 a.m.

    Fire, I know Kane is injured and you would also know if you had read my ENTIRE statement carefully.. in 1986 England was dominating Argentina and could have definitely defeated Argentina who was struggling.. but that's water under the bridge.. I honestly think it the coach can build the team around a health Kane and Vardy on top England can cause havoc.. Teams playing England will have to expent a lot of energy and resources keeping up with Kane and Vardy speeds and ability to take on players and shoot quickly.. Kane and Vardy will also open up their other teammates in Mid for scoring. To be honest no country will have more dynamic line up on top..the only country that can stop them on top is Brazil. This will be a very interesting World Cup

  7. John Heath, March 17, 2017 at 10:45 p.m.

    When did Arsenal lose to any team from Dortmund 10-2 on aggregate?

  8. Quarterback TD replied, March 17, 2017 at 10:55 p.m.

    Good catch... it was FC Bayern München

  9. Delroy Wallace from Parkland Select Soccer replied, March 20, 2017 at 11:22 a.m.

    When did they ever play a man down after looking so good?

  10. Vince Leone, March 17, 2017 at 11:18 p.m.

    I'm no fan of the EPL or England, but it's heartening to see Southgate speaking truth about the state of English players. The first step to change is recognizing that it's necessary.

  11. Ben Myers, March 18, 2017 at 12:10 a.m.

    Without Kane, England lacks a proven striker, and its not a killer team. But now ask yourself which of the players selected by Arena for USMNT would make the English side. It's a pretty short list.

  12. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 18, 2017 at 9:58 a.m.

    Yes but then ask yourself if that matters since our results over the past ten years are at least as good as England's.

  13. Quarterback TD, March 18, 2017 at 10:50 a.m.

    Fire, which country will have a better attacking offense on top than a combination of Vardy and Kane ? Which country has players that can keep up with Kane and Vardy ? This is the most lethal duo any one can have and what makes them so dangerous is they are not afraid to engage defenders and draw fouls.. I like Rooney but he is too inconsistent and inconsistent will not make you win.. Rooney should have left ManU 4 years ago and played for an up and coming team like Everton or Leicester this way he is constantly playing and improving as oppose to being on the bench in ManU.. but I suppose everyone only want to play for the ManUs and Barcelonas even if it means sitting..

  14. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 19, 2017 at 12:57 p.m.

    Which countries have a better strikeforce than Vardy and Kane? Lots of countries. Maybe that's one of the reasons why this mediocre England team goes out in early in pretty much every international competition.

  15. Quarterback TD replied, March 20, 2017 at 10:05 a.m.

    Fire, you like avoiding questions directly-- what countries have a two better strikers up front ?? I looked at all possibilities and there are none--

  16. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 20, 2017 at 4:25 p.m.

    There are none? LOL!

  17. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 20, 2017 at 4:28 p.m.

    Not that many teams play with two up front these days but how about Messi and Higuain for one?

  18. Quarterback TD replied, March 20, 2017 at 5:57 p.m.

    Messi and Higuian will be washed up by the time 2018 World Cup. Vardy and Kane has the best chance of putting England into Finals provided they don't meet Brazil prior. It's a real shame we cannot see them both on Saturday World Cup Qualifications for England. I can preach to you till you are blue in the face and you still will not believe me so lets just wait.

  19. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, March 20, 2017 at 6:27 p.m.

    To be honest, I think Sturridge is better than both of them but he can never stay healthy. In any event, I don't think we will be seeing England in the final next year. Did you forget how dreadful they looked last summer at the Euros?

  20. frank schoon, March 18, 2017 at 11:33 a.m.

    My answer to England chronic lack of success is to send in a brigade of "Paper Poopers", and I will guarantee you in no time these English players will have a touch on the ball like a seal with a ball on his nose....

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