Home World Cup 2014 England England vs Italy Player Ratings – Should Rooney be Dropped?

England vs Italy Player Ratings – Should Rooney be Dropped?

Rooney Manchester United
Wikimedia: Gordon Flood

England and Italy finally met after months of anticipation for this Group D clash. Although England lost 2-1, the mood among England fans is much more optimistic than of tournaments past. Yes, they lost and qualifying from the group will be extra difficult now, BUT Roy Hodgson can take refreshing encouragement from the way his players performed. England probably played the best game they have so far under Hodgson, the quality in the final third needs to improve, but at times they played flowing, direct, vibrant attacking football – It has been a long time since an England fan has been able to say that.

Below is my opinion on each England player’s performance, on a scale of 1 – 10.

Joe Hart – Goalkeeper – 5/10

Had a relatively quiet night, probably couldn’t have done better for either goal. Has been prone to an error this season, and showed this a couple of times in the game. Almost at fault for another goal.

Glen Johnson – Defender – 5/10

Has been poor defensively for Liverpool this season and looked uncomfortable on a few occasions. Was not as exposed as Baines, but had more help on the right side from Welbeck. Decent going forward in patches.

Leighton Baines – Defender 4/10

Is it too late to ask Ashley Cole to come to Brazil? Baine’s struggled in this game, and was targeted by Italy’s attacks. Not helped at all by having Rooney as the left sided midfielder, Rooney did not track back on a number of occasions and left Baine’s isolated in a 2 v 1 situation far too many times. Turned far too easily for the cross for the second goal.

Gary Cahill – Defender 5/10

Should have done better for Balotelli’s header, and also was out of place for the set piece routine for the first goal. Struggled at times with Balotelli’s movement.

Phil Jagielka – Defender 6/10

Slightly better performance than Cahill, looked more assured playing the ball out of defense and when also when covering Baines defensively. Never looked entirely comfortable though and redeemed by a fantastic header off the line to deny Balotelli.

Steven Gerrard – Midfielder 6/10

Anonymous at times, although was often the start of many attacks as is expected. Gerrard and Henderson as a midfield two looked quite linear during this game and Gerrard was caught out defensively on a few occasions.

Jordan Henderson – Midfielder 5/10

Has looked pedestrian in the games played next to Gerrard as his midfield bodyguard, does provide energy and movement although never got into the game to provide any attacking impotence. Also did not provide enough defensive cover. England will need more dynamism beside Gerrard in the next game to be successful.

Raheem Sterling – Midfielder 8/10

Confident, quick, skillful and a constant danger to the opposition defense. Played better when through the middle and deserved his place in the side. He almost single handedly made England look like they can be an attacking force. Is everything that this new, vibrant England should be. A few errant crosses in the second half when playing on the right, but tiredness was always going to be a factor. England’s best player.

Danny Welbeck – Forward 7/10

Worked very hard out in the humid conditions, provided decent link up play and also tracked back as and when required. Much more involved than Rooney playing on the right side, a favorite of Hodgson and showed enough to justify his inclusion over Adam Lallana.

Wayne Rooney – Forward 5/10

Other than the inch perfect cross for Sturridge’s goal, Rooney never really got into the swing of the game. Rooney is by trade a striker, and playing on the left for most of the game, was not consistently completing his defensive duties, leaving Baines isolated on numerous occasions. A poor performance tonight – there will be talk of Rooney being dropped for the next game, and after tonight’s performance, I am inclined to agree.

Daniel Sturridge – Forward 7/10

Worked hard and took his goal well. Lead the line and looked comfortable doing it, played some nice football with the other forwards, particularly Sterling. Sturridge is 100% England’s best choice for the number 9 position at this tournament.


Ross Barkley –  6/10

Came on to try and provide some power and add a spark to the game. Showed some lively touches and immediately had an attempt on goal after coming on. Generally looked like he wanted to be involved. Hopefully will be seen a lot more at this tournament.

Jack Wilshere – 4/10

The less said the better, showed why he should not be in the squad and is only at the tournament on name and not merit. Is not the player he used to be. Made mistakes and generally looked abject when he came on.

Adam Lallana  – 5/10

Not really enough time to make a difference, although ran confidently at the Italian defense on a couple of occasions. Is an interesting option for England going into the next two games, although will struggle to break into the starting eleven.


  1. I agree with you about dropping Rooney. I can’t quite put a finger on it, but it seems like he just disrupts the flow of the English offense. There was a play late in the second half that I think is indicative of why he should be dropped. Barkley got the ball on the left and began to cut across the face of the Italian defense. He could have played a through ball to Sterling, who was open on the right, but Rooney took the ball from Barkley and promptly shanked one

  2. A little harsh on Wilshire given 10 minutes and although didn’t necessarily make an impact didn’t do much wrong. I agree Rooney needs to get free and move more up top he will do more for us there but also wouldn’t want to drop sturridge. For me Milner or Barkley to go along side gerrad otherwise would not change a lot.

    • I agree, I was maybe a little harsh on him, although he came on in the 73rd minute, so had a good 20 minutes to try and change the tempo of the game. Maybe he could have done this a few years ago, but I just do not think he is the player he used to be, and should not have made the squad. Did you see that pass he tried to play out to Johnson that shanked into touch? Embarrassing. On a few occasions he just dribbled straight into an Italy player and lost possession.

      I feel at that point in the game it should have been Lallana or even Lambert to come on and try and change the game. Wilshire was not going to do this.

  3. Rooney just needs to play up top. He is our best player and should be played in his best position not moved around to accommodate others.
    Milner has a massive chance to start on the left next game, he may not be as dynamic as Lallana or Sterling but he has great delivery, passes the ball better and most importantly will help cover Baines.
    Sterling was very good but needs to pass the ball more. He was our most exciting player but also gave the ball away a lot, against sides like Italy its hard work getting it back.
    Im very positive for the next 2 games, and if by some miracle we play Italy in the final I would fancy us to win.

    • Would you play Rooney up top against Uruguay and drop Sturridge? Would be a bold claim after his performance and also with Sturridge scoring. I agree that Rooney is our best player (when playing in his right position). I just do not see Hodgson dropping Rooney, he would rather accommodate him as you say.

      Hodgson will have to have seen, like everyone else did, that Rooney was lacking in his defensive responsibilities playing on the left, and it will be interesting to see what he does with him in his next line up.

      I am also positive about the next two games. The Uruguay game will be a cracker, with both teams needing the win.

      What changes would you make for that game?

      • It would be harsh to drop him but if that was the desicion Roy made I wouldn’t be angered by it. You could make a case for Lambert up there after watching Uruguays abysmal defending of high balls in the box.
        I think he has to stick with Sturridge to begin with tho. He done ok last night and got a goal, Rooney then must play no. 10.
        Basically the starting 11 for me would be the same just Rooney at 10 with a free role to get involved where he pleased.
        I like all the players in the squad tho so whoever Roy chooses I will be happy. I know we wont win it but its the most enjoyable England team I have watched in a while.

  4. Rooney has been given more than enough chances to prove himself in an England shirt. It is now time to drop him for the sake of the team. Let’s play a natural left-sider and keep Sturridge as the lone striker.

    Good ratings by the way.

    • Prove himself in an England shirt?? Hahah he’s scored 39 goals in 92 appearances. Rooney has single-handedly had to carry England for the last 10 years. He can’t do it on his own, but nobody else ever shows up so it makes him look bad. And he’s being played on the left which is embarrassing.

      Anyway, all professionals and ex-pros seem to agree that the team should be built around him, he shouldn’t be slotted in randomly. Play him in number 10 role or leave him out.

      • Fair point, poor turn of phrase from me. I’m more referring to performances over recent years – especially within BIG games (or even just tournament games).

        True, playing him on the left is never going to get the best out of him. However at the same time he has proved to go wandering if he’s played in a central role. We need a striker to be just that – a striker. His heatmap always shows that he naturally drops back or onto either flank. Even his heatmap for this match showed he was wandering all over the pitch. Sure, there’s an argument that he wouldn’t have to drop back if the midfielders were doing their job properly, but we need him where he can potentially be the most effective.

        As for single-handedly carrying England for 10 years – Messrs Beckham, Lampard and Gerrard might disagree with that (as well as the vast majority of English people).

  5. Sterling an 8 really? He did well but he didn’t deserve an 8. I don’t why you scored Jagielka a 6,he didn’t do anything wrong.

    • I can definitely see Sterling as an 8. He was positive and dribbled around the Italian defence on a number of occasions. Our best attacking outlet.

      As for the Jagielka 6, that’s exactly the score you get for not doing anything wrong. A 7 is given when a player stands out.

      Your logic seems a little conflicted by suggesting Jags deserves more than a 6 for doing nothing wrong yet Sterling did well but doesn’t deserve an 8. On that very logic, you’re suggesting that BOTH Jags and Sterling should get a 7, whilst at the same time asserting that Jags did nothing wrong and Sterling did well. Two clear distinctions made by yourself.


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