Paul Scholes has claimed that former Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney may be past his best and says England must show the strength to drop him if he performs poorly at another World Cup.
The Old Trafford legend believes that Rooney, 28, must live up to expectations in Brazil if he wants to be considered as one of the world’s top players after failing to score in the last two tournaments in Germany and South Africa.
Scholes, who was on United’s coaching staff for the final four games of the season, also claimed that Rooney does not work as well in a strike partnership and that could mean Louis van Gaal has to choose between him and Robin van Persie next season.
‘After an indifferent season, the England management team has to get the best from Wayne Rooney for the World Cup,’ said Scholes.
‘He’s got a brilliant scoring record for his country with 38 goals in 89 internationals, but he’s played in eight World Cup games without a goal. You expect more of him. If Wayne is going to be one of the best footballers in the world, this World Cup is where he has to produce.
‘Maybe Wayne has felt the pressure of playing for England in the last two World Cups when he’s not scored. I know how difficult it can be. Wayne’s peak may have been a lot younger than we’d expect of footballers traditionally.
‘Age 28 or 29 has been the normal peak. With Wayne, it could have been when he scored 27 league goals in 2011-2012 when he was 26.
‘Wayne was in the Everton team at 16 years of age, in 2003. Since then he’s played at Euro 2004, two World Cups, the Premier League, and Champions League every year. There’s a chance he’s worn out.
‘I’m not saying Wayne needs to be dropped, but if his form doesn’t get up to scratch in the warm-ups, or in the first game of the World Cup, it will be interesting to see if the England management team has the balls to make that decision.
‘We have quality forwards in the squad this time. That should give Wayne the competition he needs to spur him on a little more.’
Scholes believes Rooney needs to conserve his energy and focus on scoring goals if he is going to be most effective in Brazil.
He added: ‘To get the very best from Wayne, the manager needs to tell him, “Don’t bother running back. Stay up top. Stay centre forward. Score goals. That’s your job in my team”.
‘Wayne’s almost like a schoolkid. He loves being a footballer. Wayne wants all the responsibility to score. He’ll try to play left back, right back. Sometimes he does that too much instead of saving himself and his energy for what his teams need — the ball in the net. He needs to use his energy more effectively now as he’s a player who likes to be up front on his own and I don’t think he’s great with partnerships.
‘It’ll be interesting next season with Louis van Gaal and how he decides to play Wayne. It looks like it might come to a straight choice between Wayne and Van Persie.’
In his blog for Paddy Power Scholes also admitted he is unlikely to be involved in Van Gaal’s backroom team, and warned United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward he still needs to convince people that he is good enough for the job. He added: ‘I’ve not spoken to Edward Woodward. I’m not waiting for a phone call and don’t expect to be at Old Trafford next season.
‘Louis van Gaal has the credentials but he has a major job on his hands. United need five or six players to get anywhere near the top of the Premier League again.
‘The players did not perform last season. It was a disaster. David Moyes was a little negative with the teams he put out and he took a lot of stick, but I believe he’s a top manager. I’d question if 10 months was enough time.
‘Edward Woodward has an awful lot to prove this time that he’s good enough at his job. He has to bring the players in that the new manager wants. It’s obvious that last year he didn’t manage to do that.
‘If he doesn’t, we are not going to get anywhere near the top.’ – Daily Mail