When I hear pundits talking about 'how important Wayne Rooney is to the England team', I can't help but disagree with their views. Yes, Rooney is a very talented footballer who has the ability to change games in the blink of an eye. His ability is not debated when he is playing the likes of San Marino or lesser Premier League sides for England and Manchester United respectively, but I am yet to see Rooney perform consistently in games that matter, against teams that pose a threat, at international level in particular.
Rooney outlined his 'wonder-kid' credentials at Euro 2004 in Portugal, scoring twice against both Switzerland and Croatia. However, put that tournament aside and you would struggle to name too many matches that Rooney has stamped his authority on, in a major international competition or even simply against a major international team. Injury just prior to the 2006 World Cup didn't help his cause but in the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championships, Rooney's presence was not sufficiently felt. Even during England's recent games against Brazil, despite scoring twice, Rooney did not do much more in those games to suggest he is a dominant figure of the pitch for the Three Lions.
Rooney's influence at club level is also questionable, amid constant rumours about his future. He scored twice in United's 3-2 victory at rivals Manchester City last season, a game which swung the title race firmly in United's favour. After that, Rooney's influence decreased as other players, namely Robin Van Persie and Javier Hernandez, took on the goal scoring responsibilities. Even against the might of Real Madrid in the Champions League, Danny Welbeck who had scored two goals all season was selected ahead of Rooney. In finals of major competitions, Rooney has yet again failed to give performances to suggest that people are right to hold him in such high regard. One goal against Barcelona in a 3-1 defeat in the 2011 Champions League Final and two efforts in the 4-0 thrashing of Wigan in the 2006 League Cup are all he has to show for his club cup final exploits.
I'm not saying that England should dispense of Rooney all together but England should certainly be searching for alternatives for his position. Rooney is an excellent player but by no means in the bracket of 'world class'. His performances against the giants of club and international football are rarely of the standard that people expect from him.