Tag Archives: workhorse

Wayne Rooney remains an England enigma, 10 years after his spectacular start

Decade of hit and miss: Rooney remains an England enigma, 10 years after his spectacular start

but was his
first goal at a major international tournament for eight years.

Red mist: Rooney was sent off last time he played in Montenegro

Red mist: Rooney was sent off last time he played in Montenegro

Heads we win: Rooney returned to the team after suspension to score against Ukraine

Heads we win: Rooney returned to the team after suspension to score against Ukraine

Samba beaten: Rooney also scored in last month's friendly victory over Brazil

Samba beaten: Rooney also scored in last month's friendly victory over Brazil

Unfortunately, the red cards against Portugal and Montenegro spring more readily to mind.

He compares well with Owen, another teenage prodigy. Rooney has seven fewer goals in 10 fewer games, a ratio he should be confident of boosting tomorrow against San Marino, ranked the world’s worst international team by FIFA.

Beyond this, Rooney’s contribution cannot simply be calculated by goals. He has been up front alone, in a pair, in the hole off the front man and, occasionally, wide. You can even throw in the odd cameo in midfield.

He craves involvement, ever willing to do a job in a different system. It is still the way at Manchester United. Picked against Real Madrid away, he was dropped at home. Is this evidence of his slow conversion from playmaker to workhorse

Workhorse Are Rooney's talents being wasted

Workhorse Are Rooney's talents being wasted

Superstar: Rooney was the sensation of the tournament at Euro 2004

Superstar: Rooney was the sensation of the tournament at Euro 2004

New hero: Rooney's emergence suggested England possessed a world beater

New hero: Rooney's emergence suggested England possessed a world beater

International awakening: Rooney also excelled a year before that, on his competitive debut against Turkey

International awakening: Rooney also excelled a year before that, on his competitive debut against Turkey

Time to celebrate: Rooney has been a regular for England since that star turn against Turkey

Time to celebrate: Rooney has been a regular for England since that star turn against Turkey

Fabio Capello perhaps came closer than others to unlocking the secret for England. Rooney scored half of his 24 competitive England goals for Capello. Nine of them came in nine qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, playing up front with Emile Heskey.

But he travelled to South Africa with questions surrounding his fitness and, it would later emerge, his head in a spin from personal issues.

Under the pressure of comparisons to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, he cut an angry figure, swearing at a female linesman in a practice match, scrawling abusive messages on his golf shoes and sounding off into a TV camera about England fans who booed the team after a goalless draw against Algeria.

Rooney went a year without a goal for England while strike partners came and went: Bobby Zamora, Peter Crouch, Darren Bent, Kevin Davies, Ashley Young, Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck have all had a go since the last World Cup.

Out of form: Ashley Young

Out of form: Ashley Young

Good foil Danny Welbeck

Good foil Danny Welbeck

Forgotten man: Darren Bent

Forgotten man: Darren Bent

When Hodgson took the job last year, he was unequivocal about his star man. ‘We all know Rooney is best as a No 10,’ he said.

‘The fact he’s such a good player and can play in other positions, that’s another matter. From my conversations with him, from all the games I’ve watched him play, he’s extremely dangerous as a second striker.’

Last month, in a friendly against Brazil, Rooney was the spearhead in a 4-3-3 shape designed to accommodate Jack Wilshere. The experiment worked well and the most encouraging aspect of the 2-1 victory was the way that Wilshere, Rooney and Tom Cleverley combined.

Will Hodgson stick to this shape with Wilshere injured or take a step back In two qualifiers with Rooney available in this World Cup campaign, he played in tandem with Welbeck against San Marino and Jermain Defoe in Poland.

Missing link: England are to be without Jack Wilshere

Missing link: England are to be without Jack Wilshere

Again, his flexibility does not help Rooney stamp his identity on an England team.

Gerrard may sympathise — it has happened to him too — and will have his own views on why the 17-year-old who made such an impact on his full England debut did not break into the world elite where Messi and Ronaldo reside.

At 27, Rooney can still leave his mark on international football and paste new images over those red-mist moments with some unforgettable goals.

Where better to start than San Marino Where better to prove a point on Tuesday than Montenegro, scene of his last England meltdown Where better to make an impression than a World Cup in Brazil

VIDEO: SCOTT PARKER DISCUSSES ENGLAND V SAN MARINO

Tim Bresnan exclusive: I"m the workhorse who lets others shine

EXCLUSIVE: I'm the workhorse who lets others shine, says England ace Bresnan

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 13 July 2012

Real men don't eat quiche. So it comes as no surprise when Tim Bresnan shoves his dinner plate across the table, focuses on the one significant remnant and offers an apology for being wasteful: 'Sorry, I'm allergic to eggs.'

All his reflections over the next quarter-of-an-hour conform to masculine stereotype. Bresnan is what old soaks in the Yorkshire pit town where he grew up call a 'man's man'. In an age when sport and celebrity are natural bedfellows, he is something of a throwback to a previous era, eschewing fancy trappings for an ordinary life.

In contrast, his three years as a Test cricketer have been anything but ordinary. Until incessant rain ruined the match against West Indies at Edgbaston last month, his record was unblemished: played 13, won 13.

Fit and firing: Tim Bresnan is ready to take on South Africa at the Oval next week... weather permitting

Fit and firing: Tim Bresnan is ready to take on South Africa at the Oval next week… weather permitting

Next week he will turn up at The Kia Oval, having declared himself fully recovered from an elbow injury, ahead of the hotly anticipated first match of the Investec Series against South Africa.

He will go through a customary, if unusual, ritual that has seen him consistently preferred to pace rivals Steven Finn and Graham Onions. On practice days, he prepares as if he expects to be left out.

'I never feel like the man in possession of an England shirt because I think that would be quite dangerous,' says Bresnan at ASDA House, Leeds. 'If ever I considered myself to be the first name on the team sheet that would reduce my effectiveness because then I would not be pushing myself as hard.

'As a rule, I like to think that I am not playing every single time I turn up, and then it feels as though there is something to prove when you head into the nets.

'I always feel that I have to push my name for selection. Steven Finn and Graham Onions are both fantastic bowlers, so why wouldn't I think that

'I genuinely believe it helps my performances – I am fully ready every Thursday morning because I have practised so hard a couple of days before. Justifying my selection is just part of me.'

Howzat: Bresnan celebrates the wicket of Michael Clarke in the recent NatWest series thrashing of Australia

Howzat: Bresnan celebrates the wicket of Michael Clarke in the recent NatWest series thrashing of Australia

Seldom has he failed to justify it. Although, on debut against West Indies at Lord's in May 2009, Bresnan felt like a spare part. He didn't bowl in the first innings and went wicketless in the second. 'I asked myself, “Am I playing as a batter Or what” '

That match represented Andy Flower's first as England team director; Bresnan embodies the qualities of the team Flower has moulded. He is an undemonstrative cricketer with demonic ability.

In Steve James's excellent book The Plan, the author recalls a conversation with Flower in the aftermath of Bresnan's second Test appearance. Asked his opinion of the Yorkshireman, James's assessment, 'a competent fourth seamer', was met with: 'He's the best fourth seamer in the world, if that's the case.'

A glance at the numbers – a batting average above 40 complementing 55 wickets at 26 runs apiece – suggests England have a genuine world-class all-rounder in their midst. Andrew Flintoff, a magnet to the words world and class throughout an 11-year international career, averaged 20.6 and 45.6 respectively at the same stage, and 31.8 and 32.8 by its end.

Genuine all-rounder: Bresnan's batting average currently sits above 40 in Test matches

Genuine all-rounder: Bresnan's batting average currently sits above 40 in Test matches

'It would be something to shout about, and very impressive, if I finish my career with those statistics,' says Bresnan. 'But as far as they go now I don't really care. I honestly just want to be doing my job for the team.

'It is simple and suits me down to the ground. Everyone seems happy with what I've done so far, and if I keep doing the same thing, who knows

'Deon Kruis, who I played with at Yorkshire, put what I do in a good way. We used to run in all day as the change bowlers, pass the baton and then somebody else would come back on and get a load of wickets. “We'll pump the tyres, lads, you ride the bicycle”, he used to say.

'But the hard yards have got to be done by someone and I stick my hand up every time. I don't feel as though I need a big pat on the back, or anything like that.'

Slavish devotion to basic principles – aiming to hit the top of off stump when bowling and the ball hard when batting – propelled Bresnan, plucked from the rugby league heartland, to make his Yorkshire debut at 16, through the England age groups to the pinnacle of the game. He maintains a similar mentality off the field, too.

Back to basics: Bresnan keeps his bowling simple - aim at the top of off stump - and it has brought results

Back to basics: Bresnan keeps his bowling simple – aim at the top of off stump – and it has brought results

'Most of my time at home is spent pottering about. To be honest, I don't really do a lot.

'When I can get there I still go and watch Castleford Tigers, and I still go to the local with my mates,' he adds. 'I don't even get recognised, to be honest. I seem to slip under the radar and that suits me. Even if I walked into the Green Dragon in Pontefract, no-one bothers me.

'Perhaps it's because I look fat on telly, and they think, “No, it can't be him, he's too thin”.'

TIM BRESNAN is an ambassador for the ASDA Kwik Cricket Competition. ASDA are proud to be entering their seventh year of sponsorship of the National Kwik Cricket competition.Visit www.asda.com/kwikcricket