Before almost every world cup it seems that the English media make a fuss about how their country is finally strong enough to be tournament champions – but this year has been an odd exception. I haven’t heard dramatized stories or discussions about how and why each player is finally ready to step to the main stage, but rather, I’ve been exposed to stories that describe how talented, young and hungry their team is -and I’ll be honest, it’s been super refreshing. England didn’t dominate Italy during their last world cup match, but they played with a youthful passion and conviction that synced up with the English media’s perception of their talent, and let me repeat, it was super refreshing.
I enjoyed watching England’s young players battle with a ferocity that seems to have motivated and given life to Rooney, and in doing so, heightened his level of play. One problem though: Rooney needs to play up top with Sturridge, or be the lone striker as he did the season before Van Persie arrived at Man United. Rooney’s positioning at this World Cup as a left attacking mid has been somewhat baffling, especially considering that Sturridge is faster, left footed, and able to outpace many players if given that space on the left.
But back to Rooney, England needs to let their younger players do all the work for him – his goal today against Uruguay came because all of the younger players worked the ball around and gave it to him for an easy finish in the box. Rooney is a natural in the box, he needs to finish off goals, not start them – and it’d be interesting to see him play side by side Sturridge in the next game (just as Saurez does with him on Liverpool).
That said, it’s easy to notice Wilshere’s lack of inclusion in this England squad – he’s an attacking midfielder that should have been utilized more in this World Cup, especially considering his big game experience when to Lallana and Barkley’s lack of it. Wilshere is England’s future at midfield, and deserves more of a chance, furthermore, he could have fit perfectly into Rooney’s left attacking mid spot and dished the ball forward to Rooney and Sturridge – something Roy Hodgson should have considered before England’s second game.