Prior to his alarming dip in form at the 2010 World Cup, Wayne Rooney was widely considered as behind only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s best player.
They were set to be the big three in South Africa, the individuals who could single-handedly take their country to glory.
All of them failed, Rooney perhaps most spectacularly, but since then Messi and Ronaldo have just got better and better, incredibly so.
Manchester United’s Rooney, meanwhile, suffered a remarkable slump in form back on Premier League duty.
In La Liga, Messi, with Barcelona, and Ronaldo, with Real Madrid, plundered goals and broke league and club records with phenomenal displays, something they continue to do at will.
Rightly, they are considered by far the best two players in the world, with Messi arguably the finest ever.
Rooney’s stock fell with the likes of Spanish World Cup winners Xavi and Andrés Iniesta taking over him in the world order. Now, he is climbing back.
His form began to return with that stunning overhead kick that won the Old Trafford Manchester derby last season. Now he is on course for a record goals haul in a campaign, one adrift of his best-ever 34.
He has 26 in 29 Premier League starts for a side topping the division – and that is just his goals.
Rooney has always been more than an out-and-out striker, and his assists tally is equally as impressive.
His blossoming partnership with Danny Welbeck is paying great dividends for Sir Alex Ferguson, while Rooney has been helped by the return of Paul Scholes, lifting some of the creative burden and allowing him to be more of a final-third threat.
City’s nemesis before, Rooney will be their main danger again in the Manchester derby on Monday night.
There will be an abundance of top-class players on show in the Premier League title-decider at the Etihad, from City’s David Silva, Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero, to Rooney, Scholes and Nani of United.
But Rooney can outshine them all and begin climbing to within Messi and Ronaldo’s sights once more.
So it looks like Roy Hodgson will be given the England job, but how have the Football Association been able to ignore Wigan Athletic boss Roberto Martínez?
The notion that England need an English manager is a daft one because frankly there is no one that fits the bill.
You need someone who can get the best out a group of players, who can handle the media and the huge level of expectation and most importantly who can bring the English footballing philosophy out of the dark ages and into the modern world.
Martínez ticks all of these boxes – he’s flown in the face of calls for his job to take Wigan to the brink of a second successive great escape from relegation.
He’s also made them play without fear, passing the ball out from the back and refusing to budge from their possession-based game even when their backs were against the wall as they tried to cling on for three points at The Emirates.
The fact the FA are looking for the new manager to implement and oversee a coaching structure at their St George’s Park training centre makes Martínez all the more perfect.
Martínez could radically overhaul the way the game in England is played from the grass roots to the top and start training coaches in the same footballing philosophy so that soon we will have our own managers who will be good enough for the job.
It’s not even as if Martinez would cost the FA a packet to bring in – Dave Whelan wouldn’t stand in his way and any compensation due would be relatively low, and his wages would probably cost less than Hodgson’s.
But unsurprisingly the FA are trying to go with the safe option. But what they don’t realise is that by continuing to appoint relics like Hodgson they are gambling the future of the domestic game.
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