Is Rooney nearing the end with England?
But criticism of Rooney’s performance from the stands left Southgate confused, the manager noting the Manchester United man is “desperate” to represent his country.
Rooney was given a strong vote of confidence by the new manager.Southgate sympathised with the sole focus on Rooney and admitted he could not understand the audible frustration of England’s fans when he shot wildly off target near the end.
“It’s fascinating to get an insight into his world over the last 10 days. Every debate seems to focus on him. The onus on him is enormous, the criticism of him is, at times, unfair and yet he ploughs on and plays with pride and represents his country with pride.”-Southgate said.
“Those guys are the people that really desperately wanted to play for England again and again and again and put their necks on the block. Wayne falls into that category.”
Rooney was kept as captain for the last match and remain as captain from next games under Gareth Southgate.
Rooney was not playing well for his country or club,he was given with an Midfield role but was not playing like one.
He was operating in a deep-lying midfield role spraying good passes left and right to the flanks but not providing any killer creativity, other than two shots which brought saves from Malta’s heroic keeper Andrew Hogg.
He was figuring in a role that Tottenham’s Eric Dier has played better in recent months – he was one of the relative successes amid the fiasco that was Euro 2016 – and the Spurs player will surely adopt the role regularly once more in the future.
Dele Alli, on target once and a danger on several other occasions, is best suited to the “number 10” role Rooney once fitted into neatly, while Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge are ahead of England’s captain as striking options.
“We knew we’d have a lot of the ball and dictate the tempo,” Southgate said. “I think his experience and leadership has been crucial throughout the week.
“I wanted to get Dele higher up the pitch for that link between the midfielders and forwards. He got his goal and he’ll be disappointed that he didn’t get another.”-Southgate added.
Rooney may produce the goods in Slovenia but the pressure is growing as he prepares to win his 118th cap, a record for an England outfield player. He must deliver displays of significance soon.