Wayne Rooney was subjected to booing as England scraped past Malta at Wembley on Saturday evening, though the Manchester United man was operating in a deeper position than he perhaps would have liked.
Ahead of what is a tricky-looking trip to Slovenia, Gareth Southgate has taken the correct decision to drop his captain in favour of a more natural midfield player.
In terms of his performances this season, there has been little justification for the 30-year-old keeping his place ahead of someone like Eric Dier.
The England veteran’s continued involvement up to this point can therefore only be the result of his ability to help his side in other ways, using his experience to make the team better:
|POS: FWD||AGE: 30Y 11M|
|HEIGHT: 5FT 10IN||WEIGHT: 13ST 0LB|
|PL | MNU | 15/16||15/16 15/16 | MNU | PL|
If we look at Manchester United’s Premier League record last season with and without Rooney, however, then we can see that his presence actually had a negative effect on results.
The Red Devils won 60% of their top-flight fixtures when the former Everton man was missing, as opposed to just 46% when he was involved.
Gareth Southgate has spoken about his players being “brave with the ball” and now he has shown his bravery by opting to leave Rooney on the sidelines. If the numbers hold true, then this could well be the move that lands him the England job on a permanent basis.
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