Why Wayne Rooney Should Not Be Named England Captain

With the announcement of Steven Gerrard’s international retirement, after 38 games as captain and 114 appearances, attention was quickly turned to one question. Who will wear the captain’s armband next for the Three Lions?

Frankly, England isn’t littered with options. Perhaps that is part of the reason the English performed so poorly in Brazil. Ex-England captain Bryan Robson has acknowledged this, saying: “As a captain I don’t think we have a stand out candidate”.

Many, including Gerrard, have suggested Wayne Rooney. The United forward has the most caps in the current squad, sitting at 95 appearances, and looks set to break Bobby Charlton’s all-time scoring record, needing just 9 goals to reach that target. His talent is undoubtedly going to keep him in the side, despite some calls for him to be dropped in Brazil – and this consistency is important to have when giving someone the armband.

However, the captaincy isn’t just about giving the armband to your best or most high profile player. When Rooney was playing in a flat and disappointing Manchester United side under David Moyes, he was one of the few players on the pitch who seemed to try to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Even when not performing well, his work rate goes unquestioned.

Does this make him captain material? I don’t think so.

And I’m not going to evidence his lifestyle choices, or rumors in the tabloids. John Terry has been the subject of numerous attacks on his personality, yet the command he has in the dressing room is there for all to witness. Ryan Giggs is another shining example of this. As his personal life comes into question, team mates and friends are the ones to rally around you, not create a fissure in the dressing room.

What does hurt is Rooney’s antics surrounding contract disputes. Twice he has held Manchester United to ransom. Stories surface of Rooney moving to a major Premier League rival, and twice the result has been a huge bump in pay for Rooney. One of the world’s finest and most marketable talents certainly warrants the one of the best wages in the world – but the manner he went about it was well below the belt. Those are the kind of actions that will cause rifts in a dressing room.

His outburst in 2010, when he shouted “It’s nice to hear your own fans booing you” to the world’s television screens after a disappointing 0-0 draw to Algeria is more of the same. Though I understand it was an action in the heat of the moment, that doesn’t mean the infamous English press would take it the same way. Rooney is an easy scapegoat; often blamed for not winning games on his own and often the center of antics on and off the pitch that question his attitude. Even if his attitude improves, the perceptions of him won’t. As a result, the fans, the media and the culture surrounding the English national team could quickly become toxic – all as a result of extra attention on the man.

Rooney does not need flattering or appeasing. He does not need to be handed an armband as a token of his quality, or his work rate. Rooney is at his best when he is focused on playing. When the spotlight at United was on Ronaldo, Rooney played some of his best soccer. When Van Niistelrooy was at the club to poach not just the goals, but the glory, Rooney blossomed in his development. And the entrance of Robin Van Persie has allowed this trend to continue.

Rooney off the pitch is an extrovert. He constantly attracts attention, and in his younger years he purposefully brought this upon himself. Rooney on the pitch, however, is an introvert. When he gets his head down and plays, he becomes one of the best in the world. And when he is one of the best in the world, leading comes more naturally – he instinctually becomes in sync with those around him. However, you divert his attention from his game, you give him responsibility outside of his comfort zone, and his performance decreases.

Rooney isn’t the right choice for England captain, and it’s not because of what the back pages of the newspapers will print about him. But rather, to get the best out of him as a player, you don’t need to present him with a gift. His experience at the top level is matched by Joe Hart and Gary Cahill. His ‘bite’ and win at all costs nature is matched by Jack Wilshere. What sets Rooney apart is his talent, and this is why so many think he should get the captaincy. However, giving him the armband could lead to a drop in his talent, the one virtue that sets him apart from his national team mates.

You can follow Jordan Willis on Twitter @JMWillis01

10 thoughts on “Why Wayne Rooney Should Not Be Named England Captain”

  1. Disagree. He’s matured enough to handle the armband. If he had the captain responsibility, he’d be more likely to tame down his ref rants and show leadership. Secondly, he is the one of the few on the future England squad with any experience. Hart has many more years ahead but right now the pool is shallow.

  2. Not one of your reasons made any sense at all, and you had better board your window walled house up as there is no one who is perfect, everyone has made mistakes.

    Rooney always tries always turns up for the training and the games helps everyone out etc. there is not much more to say except your agenda and propaganda is to put someone you support in instead.

    Typical passive aggressive bitchy behaviour by a hack who cannot research and give anything more that a blinkered narrowed view for the purpose of propaganda.

    1. I love Rooney. I don’t think he should get the negative rep he has acquired by some people. He has matured recently as I mention by saying “in his younger years he brought it [attention] upon himself”. What I was saying in this article is not that he deserves this bad reputation, merely that he has it.

      It’s not my propaganda, I’m not trying to paint him in a negative light here and I’m not sure why you think that. Acknowledging someone easily attracts bad press does not mean I think he deserves it. He doesn’t.

      He always tries and he always turns up for training, I agree. He does that with the armband, and he does it without – giving him it doesn’t change the role model he is currently in a dressing room.

      You can disagree with my points in the article but it’s far from ‘propaganda’ – in fact I actively say that I don’t wish to tar Rooney with tabloid accusations as a reason for not wanting him to have the armband.

      1. To add to this or put all of that more concisely – I agree that everyone makes mistakes – but the fact is this has made him an easy target. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be given the captaincy for those reasons, but those reasons give journalists ammunition an their version of ‘justification’ for attacking him and his captaincy. I feel it’s unwise to start someone off in a tough position when you know they have a target on their back. I certainly won’t be shooting at that target, but you know full well that others will.

  3. Just a few comments….first of all, good on you to come here & submit an article that people are going to be critical about.

    But, of course, I have a few criticisms…
    1-It seems strange to write this article without naming who you would make captain.

    2-You say that he is at his best when he isn’t the main focus of attack (RVN, RVP, CR), but he was brilliant when they had none of those players in 2011-2012, and he was the attack.

    3-What does his professional contract situation(s) have to do with his international career? Nothing in my opinion.

  4. Yeah, give it to Wilshire, because he’s such a model professional.

    Rooney or Hart. It’s that simple.

    1. Hart for me, bias aside.

      England have had a bad habit of giving the armband to a player on the downside of their career. Hart should be a mainstay for years to come, and seems to be a more vocal leader.

    2. Who then? You don’t suggest. But I’d bet you favor someone like Wilshire. Prone to temper outbursts…Welbeck? Another near miss. Notso (Cleverly)? Hart? One howler away from the Pine Brothers. And please don’t say Terry, unless England are planning to play in the senior division, internationally.
      Son, you knew you would take criticism in writing this piece. You should have taken a position…on someone.

      1. To be fair, the article is on the topic of why Wayne Rooney should not be named England captain, not who should take the armband.

        In my opinion, the lack of any real candidates to be England captain is really galling. There are no players right now that are worthy of it. Hence the reason there are no leaders on the England team. It may be better to rotate the captaincy until someone steps up and shows that they’re deserving of it.

        In the meantime, the captaincy of England is the least of the national team’s problems.

  5. No need to name a full time captain at the moment. Just give it to the most capped player in the starting XI.

    As the team moves on through Euro qualifying, there’s an excellent chance someone will step up and show the necessary leadership.


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