Wayne Rooney will represent England against Switzerland in the midst of a media storm that is threatening to overshadow England’s 4-0 demolition of Bulgaria. While most would expect Rooney to struggle under the pressure, it would be just like him to return to form with a bang and do all his talking on the pitch.
By all accounts Rooney looked a lot better against Bulgaria; he played with the sort of freedom that hampered him so dearly in South Africa and had it not been for an excellent bit of goalkeeping Rooney would have had his first international goal in nearly a year.
Fabio Capello is often criticised for using Rooney in a deeper role, but in my opinion this is what brought about Rooney’s performance on Friday. Rooney felt the pressure of having to lead the line in South Africa. He was the man expected to get the goals to fire England to success but he just couldn’t do this and without a doubt suffered from the pressure.
On Friday it was almost as if Rooney had been told to let Jermain Defoe get in to the box, you do your work outside. Those of you with strong memories will recall Rooney’s early days for England where he had so much success playing the linking role behind Michael Owen.
While it might not see Rooney look at his clinical, free best it certainly produced a more effective and productive display from the Manchester United man that, which after heavy criticism following the World Cup, may have gone someway to rebuilding his confidence when he pulls on an England shirt.
But if Rooney had gained any confidence from Friday’s game it may have been shattered by the stinging allegations in to his private life that have filled British newspapers today. Now it is up to Capello to build that confidence back before England’s potentially vital game in Basel.
Personally I don’t think this will be that difficult to do. Rooney will be welcoming any distraction from his private life at the moment and a chance to escape for 90 minutes. He may just be looking to take all his frustrations out on Switzerland on Tuesday, and if he does he may find himself firmly in the good books of the fickle English media once more.