Rooney can finally become a World Cup star... if he avoids burn-out, boredom and temper tantrums

Less than 48 hours after helping secure England a place in next summer’s World Cup finals, Wayne Rooney began his own road to Rio in earnest by recording a TV commercial for Samsung that will go down well if he takes Brazil by storm next summer.

Filming at the Bridgefoot Amateur Boxing Club in Warrington was hardly reminiscent of the Copacabana beach but locals were starry-eyed as Rooney turned up on Thursday accompanied by a convoy of sound and lighting trucks, two mobile catering units, a converted double-deck bus, an ambulance and numerous cars.
The only dissenting voices were those commuters who could not use their regular paid-for parking spots because of the size of the Rooney entourage.
Last chance saloon? This could be Wayne Rooney's final opportunity to impress at a World Cup
Roy Hodgson
Man management: David Moyes (left) and Roy Hodgson will be responsible for Rooney's condition
The World Cup is already bringing in revenue but as Rooney approaches his 28th birthday on Friday, he knows what lies ahead in Brazil is all about reputation, and nothing to do with bank balance.

Will it be third time lucky?

Germany 2006
A red card in the quarter-final exit to Portugal for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho and a tangle with ‘winking’ Manchester United clubmate Cristiano Ronaldo summed up his frustration. Rooney had arrived late, rushing his recovery from a foot injury and claiming ‘The big man is back in town’. But he was never in shape.
South Africa 2010
Goalless again three years ago, Rooney cut an unhappy figure in Fabio Capello’s campaign, none more so than when he sarcastically mocked fans into a TV camera as they booed a goalless draw with Algeria. But his header against Poland on Tuesday (right), following a goal against Montenegro, suggests he is up for the challenge this time.
Since he burst on to the major international scene aged 18 at Euro 2004, the last four major tournaments have been nothing short of calamitous for Rooney, a result of injury (a broken metatarsal affected his form at the 2006 World Cup), failure to qualify (Euro 2008), fatigue (World Cup 2010) and suspension (Euro 2012).

This is his last chance on the global stage, with qualification assured by Tuesday’s win against Poland. But how can Rooney and Hodgson avoid the burn-out, restlessness and temper tantrums that have dogged his England career to date?
Manchester United manager David Moyes believes the answer is a holiday. Moyes — a good friend of Hodgson who has strongly backed the England manager over Monkeygate — thinks his striker will need a break at some stage of the season in order to peak at the World Cup, and he says  Rooney should skip England’s next friendly international against Chile on November 15 and take a breather.

Main man: England teammates celebrate with Rooney after his goal against Poland
‘I haven’t had a conversation with Roy yet but I think he’ll try to be fair with some of the clubs and choose to do that.

Rooney could fly to Dubai or the United States with Coleen and their two children after United’s game against Arsenal on November 10, and have a week in the sunshine before returning for England’s second game in their November double-header against Germany on November 19.

‘If you want a fit and firing Wayne Rooney at the World Cup, you might need to say would it be better to give him a week’s holiday somewhere during the season,’ said Moyes. ‘You might say, “Hey, it will be better if he is trying to rest”. I think a lot of the clubs will be doing that with their players in that week [in November]. It will be the last chance to have any decent rest time.
Winker! Rooney's first World Cup in 2006 ended in a red card against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal
‘One of the biggest challenges will be how you get the players fresh again after a long season, how you get them fresh in a short time, yet you still need to train them and working with each other.’

Rooney has been in scintillating form this season after a summer of uncertainty in which Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho made it clear he wanted him.

But Moyes and Hodgson will be aware that Rooney was equally brilliant in 2009-10 when he carried United’s challenge almost single-handedly following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, only for his body to break down at the wrong time in a Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.
Support act: Rooney was criticised for questioning England fans in South Africa 2010
Although Rooney recovered to get on the plane to South Africa, he was fatigued and short of energy. His most memorable contribution (for all the wrong reasons) came when he insulted England fans as he trudged off after a horrendous goalless draw against Algeria.

Hodgson insists Rooney can be a star in Brazil provided he maintains his current fitness and conditioning. Then there is also the question of previous disciplinary indiscretions when the pressure is on. Rooney will not need reminding about his stamp on Ricardo Carvalho in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final against Portugal and the red card against Montenegro which caused him to be suspended for the first two matches of Euro 2012 when he returned in poor physical shape.

‘My expectations for him are good because I think he’s a very, very good player. But we’re talking in October and we don’t play our first game until June,’ said Hodgson pointedly. ‘When Wayne came to the Euro 2012, he couldn’t play the opening games, so he wasn’t really 100 per cent match fit. And the way he was playing then is so different to the way he is playing today.
Wayne Rooney
Staying power: United striker has started this season in fine form after being linked with a move
‘How can I know what’s going to happen with players? But do I believe Wayne can be a star in the World Cup for England, playing like he is at the moment.

At South Africa 2010 his frustrations at the long periods of time spent at Fabio Capello’s remote training camps showed when he sought out a TV camera to berate England fans with sarcasm saying: ‘Nice to see your own fans booing you, that’s what loyal support is.’

Hodgson has forgiven him. ‘Let’s be fair,’ said Hodgson. ‘You can’t keep judging people on errors they’ve made in the past. If there have been temperament errors, he has been lambasted for them and he has even paid the penalty for them.’
 Wayne Rooney
Cut above: Wayne Rooney could potentially be England's only world class star in Brazil
As for the potential of boredom at long tournaments, Hodgson said: ‘Speak to any manager in any country going to a major tournament and each will say the same, “How are we going to get through these long days? How are we going to occupy the players?”

‘The perfect answer is to have that routine that players have with their clubs and we can’t get that. The difference between Wayne and the thousands of others is that he’s honest enough to say, “I find it hard, it’s difficult for me”. There are just as many who don’t open their mouths but who have the same feeling.

‘We will do our best and I’m lucky with the FA that they have so much experience and I will have a lot of help. In Krakow [in Poland for Euro 2012] we tried something very different there to what we have done before and that worked reasonably well.
Bored games: Hodgson believes the FA can obvercome problems with boredom at tournaments
‘But we will never solve the conundrum, we’ll never get to a situation where players like Wayne, and thousands like him, say, “There’s no problem me being away for five weeks, I love every minute of it”. Frankly, you don’t. It’s the sacrifice.

‘You want to go to a World Cup, you want to be telling your grandkids at the age of 50 that, “I played at a World Cup”. It’s the sacrifice you make unfortunately. And you’ll probably glorify it, you’ll probably tell your grandkids: “It was fantastic”. But at the time you probably moaned a bit.’

The fact that Rooney hasn’t scored in eight matches in the World Cup finals is a black spot against his international record, particularly given that he is now England’s fourth highest goalscorer on 38 goals and in 12 months could be the record scorer for both United and England.
Captain fantastic: Steven Gerrard insists Rooney can make the difference in Brazil
At least he has the chance to put it right. His international skipper and fellow Liverpudlian Steve Gerrard, who put an arm round the shoulder of the teenage Rooney when he first joined up with England a decade ago,  cannot overstate his importance.

‘Everyone who does well at World Cups has a scorer who gets around four or five goals. If you have a fit Wayne Rooney scoring goals you have a better chance of progressing. He will make a massive difference’ said Gerrard.

Rooney’s World Cup journey has started in Warrington. Will it end in glory in Rio this summer or just more heartbreak?


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