Craig: Rooney Not World Class Yet

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A new reader submission for “From The Terraces as CaughtOffside reader Craig ponders Wayne Rooney’s inclusion in Sir Alex’s Famous Five.

The term “World Class” gets thrown around a bit in football and lacks true definition, but the fact that it includes “World” in it suggests that some kind of peformance on global stages is required.

Despite Sir Alex Ferguson’s claims, the England striker is not yet befitting of that title – especially when players such as Van Nistelrooy and Scholes were omitted from his list of the 5 world class stars he has managed. Rooney is an immensely gifted footballer, and is likely to become one of the most important players in the history of Manchester United but only if he can fulfil his incredible potential and win major honours with club and country.

Players are judged by trophies, and so far he has only a Carling Cup medal to his name – although time is certainly on his side, and no doubt a few Premiership trophies will come his way during his career. Domestic success is not enough however, and a quick scan of this year’s Champions League goalscoring records shows no sign of the 21 year-old, although many other English players appear – Crouch being the top scoring Englishman with 4. The likes of Fowler, Gerrard, Scholes and even Kieran Richardson have also popped up with goals and Scotland striker Kenny Miller has 3 to his name from the same group as Rooney. Last year’s statistics similarly have no mention of Rooney – in fact he’s only scored once in Europe since his Manchester United debut on 28th September 2004, when he scored a fabulous hat-trick and put the Fenerbahce defence through hell. Unfortunately, performances like that against Europe’s best have been few and far between.

The international stage is another where he has yet to live up to his billing – his last competitive international goal came against Croatia during Euro 2004. That means that Paraguay defender Carlos Gamarra has scored more times for England than Rooney in competitive matches over the last 2 years. Indeed, Rooney’s stupidity cost England their place in the 2006 World Cup, a fact that has been glossed over by the media witch-hunt of his team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo. However, again time is on the mercurial youngster’s side – most players have not even made their international debuts by the age of 21 but Rooney has already amassed 36 caps.

The Manchester United forward has shown his class domestically, but must transfer this form to the world stage and stamp his mark on the big games before he can truly be called world class.

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