It seems very significant that Wayne Rooney’s latest goal-scoring landmark for Manchester United was sealed with a strike from midfield, as Euro 2016 comes looming into view.
Rooney’s 100th Premier League goal at Old Trafford finished off an eye-catching team move and, although he was a touch defiant about his potential role with England this summer, United’s skipper read the minds of a nation in his post-match summary.
After his Man of the Match performance in the 3-1 victory over the Cherries, Rooney said: “Sometimes you have to make choices in your career and at the moment it’s better for me to play deeper,”
“It could be a bit different for England where I could still be the striker but probably next season that’s where I see myself playing.”
He added: “I’m sure Roy Hodgson will have his ideas of where he thinks is best for me.”
“It could be where I play for England, but that’s down to Roy. I’m sure we’ll speak when we meet up and he’ll tell me where he wants me to play.”
At the end of a season where two of Rooney’s compatriot’s laid the gauntlet down with prolific Premier League campaigns, not even his all-time leading scorer status in an England shirt looks sufficient justification to being selected up front in France.
Harry Kane won the Golden Boot with 25, closely followed by title-winning striker Jamie Vardy on 24, and keeping one, or both, out of England’s line-up to accommodate Rooney is now a conundrum most people have one answer for; drop the skipper.
However, benching him altogether seems a step too far, especially when the former Evertonian has all the attributes and experience required to fall back into a number 10, or more preferably, a central midfield role.
Rooney’s stats against Bournemouth when playing in the middle of the park should be all the proof Hodgson requires to drop his captain back to accommodate Kane and Vardy or even Daniel Sturridge as well.
The Red Devils talisman enjoyed more passes, more touches, more key passes and won possession more times than anyone else in United’s ranks on Tuesday night.
Another standout performance from midfield in Saturday’s FA Cup final, where Rooney is 17/10 to notch at Wembley, and this theory will gain yet more credence.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.