It has been suggested that worries about the claims, that Rooney paid for sex with a prostitute whilst his wife Coleen was pregnant with their son, were what led to his poor World Cup performances and the outburst he made when the team were booed by the fans.
Despite that, Rooney performed much more like his old self in the win over Bulgaria last Friday and assured Fabio Capello that he was in the right frame of mind and wanted to play last night. Capello stood by his man and selected the Manchester United player in the same attacking free role.
Prior to the game Capello said,
“Rooney will play in the same position because he really liked it. He gets the ball a lot, he can be free to move around the pitch and he can go from the back towards the goal. It is a really important position and you can see how enthusiastic he is. After the game on Friday he was really happy.”
So how did England and their troubled superstar get on against a Switzerland team that Capello rated as their toughest opponents in the group?
In truth, both Rooney and England did pretty well. It took just ten minutes to see Rooney smiling for probably the first time in a few days when he sidefooted home to give England a 1-0 lead.
The first half was embarassingly easy for England against a really poor looking Swiss side, The only time they looked in trouble was when Joe Hart took an absolute age to clear the ball on a couple of occasions and nearly got caught. The only bad news was a potentially serious looking ankle injury to Theo Walcott sustained in the build up to Rooney’s goal.
The second half started in much the same way and when Switzerland went down to ten men and England’s excellent substitute Adam Johnson put them 2-0 up it all started to look like a walk in the park.
Just after Johnson’s goal Switzerland’s own excellent substitute, the eighteen year old Xherdan Shaqiri, hammered home a goal that Joe Hart maybe would look back on with some regret that he didn’t get anything on it and Switzerland, from nowhere, were back in the game.
For a while England panicked and Joe Hart had more trouble catching the ball than he would have done with a bar of wet soap. However, they managed to survive and went up the other end and sealed victory with a first England goal by Darren Bent.
Apart from a dodgy few minutes after Switzerland scored, England will be more than satisfied with their night’s work. Wayne Rooney showed that he can play, even with other matters on his mind, and he will have enjoyed the game and his goal.
The whole team did well and they will feel that they have proved a point over the last few days to their many critics.
Of course, to sound a cautionary note, we have seen this all before. Capello’s team looking very good in qualification but then falling apart in the tournament. It is important not to get carried away by two decent performances.
As for Rooney, well he has got to return to what one would imagine is a pretty unhappy wife and a whole lot of trouble. To top it all, he has got to go with Manchester United on Saturday to Everton of all places! He is in for a torrid few days, but at least he has got an international goal and a couple of good performances to give him some strength. My goodness, he is going to need it!
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