Euro 2012 Gives Rooney The Best Chance To Atone For His Errors

I don’t think there’s a football fan across the world who does not by now know that Wayne Rooney got sent off against Montenegro in England’s final Euro 2012 Qualifier on Friday night.

With England’s grip of the game loosening partly due to a ‘typical’ England second-half performance (you know the one, where they crumble when it really ‘matters’), our Wayne kicked out at Montenegro’s Miodrag Dzudovic and was rightly sent off by German referee Wolfgang Stark.

Pathetic, Silly, Stupid and Reckless are all words that have or will continue to be used by fans and pundits up and down the country when describing Rooney’s sending-off. There is no denying that it was a stupid red-card and one that the nation’s star-player has rightly come under criticism for.

If he had say been sent off harshly for two bookable offences then you can bet your life on it that the media, fans and pundits would not be criticising him half as much as they are now. But by being sent off in that manner, he gave the official no option BUT to send him off and in that respect it was a ‘gimme red-card’.

There is a growing sense among fans and those in the media that England coach Fabio Capello (who in my opinion is lucky to be in a job, but we’re save that for another article) shouldn’t have played Rooney on Friday night due to his father and uncle being arrested the previous day due to a probe into alleged betting irregularities in an SPL game last year.

Even with it being a crucial game for England, I highly doubt Capello would have selected Rooney had he thought that the Manchester United striker was not in the ‘right frame of mind’ to go out there on the pitch. We’ve seen in the past that when players go into a game with some form of controversy that more often than not being on the football pitch is the best thing for them and they are then able to forget what has been bugging them beforehand.

That’s not to say that the arrests wouldn’t have been on Rooney’s mind during the game as it’s only natural in games for players to ‘switch off’ and think about other things especially. You can imagine that a striker particularly when his team’s on the cosh in the second-half of a game like England were on Friday (let’s not kid ourselves that they were in control) will let their mind sway in frustration at not getting on the ball.

Whilst of course the sending-off was silly, what happened afterwards was something that I liked about Rooney which shows his new-found maturity. Referee Stark picked up on the fact that after showing the red, Rooney calmly walked off accepting his punishment and didn’t moan about the referee’s decision once, which is something that critics of Rooney should bear in mind:

“He accepted it without dissent. Maybe it will help Rooney the way he acted by accepting my decision.”

“It was a straight red card. I had no hesitation. You saw what happened and Rooney knew by his reaction. He just walked off.”

Whether or not the fact that Rooney accepted his punishment without complaining will stop UEFA from banning him England’s first two group games of the tournament which starts next year in Poland and Ukraine is anyone’s guess. Judging by the past though, it’s likely that he will get banned for the first two games which is the same punishment that Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin had to deal with going into Euro 2008 with Russia.

Despite that though, Arshavin had a fantastic tournament and in his three games impressed scoring twice as Russia made it through to the semi-finals, showing that the then-Zenit playmaker had the ability to play in a bigger league in Europe.

There’s no reason why England should not be able to make it out of the group stages (unless they’re put in a group of death headlined by Spain and France) so Rooney will have his chance to shine in the tournament which he rose to fame in back in 2004 when he was the best young player in the tournament.

In a way I feel that (and I am sure I’ll be looked down upon for saying this) that the red card MAY actually be the best thing for both Rooney and England. Think about it, now England’s players have the chance to show that on a major stage that they can cope without Rooney and they will have to perform and stand up to be counted for.

As for Rooney, next summer’s finals will give him the perfect opportunity to come in and play essentially ‘knock-out’ football straight away. England will likely be going into their third group game needing to get a result (unless they lose their first two games) and it will give our Wayne the perfect chance to ‘win it’ for the nation and drag us as far as possible in the tournament.

He has an opportunity to atone for his errors, let’s hope the nation doesn’t stop believing in him and that he can prove his critics wrong and do the business now in an England shirt when it matters the most.

Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87

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