Paddy Power

Paul Scholes exclusive: How England can get the best out of Wayne Rooney

In his first column for the Paddy Power Blog, the Manchester United and England midfield legend gives his verdict on his former team-mate and pulls no punches on what must happen to bring glory back to Old Trafford next season...

by Paul Scholes | May 22, 2014

No player at Manchester United can take much credit after last season’s performances, bar David de Gea. It was a disaster. The keeper being player of the year says a lot. Now, after an indifferent season, the England management team has to get the best from Wayne Rooney for the World Cup.

He’s got a brilliant scoring record for his country with 38 goals in 89 internationals, but he’s played in eight World Cup games without a goal. You expect more of him. If Wayne is going to be one of the best footballers in the world, this World Cup is where he has to produce.

Paul Scholes v Scotland

SILENCING THE SCOTS: Netting a header against Scotland in 1999 – I thought my international career was decent, not brilliant

Euro 2004 was a low

Maybe Wayne has felt the pressure of playing for England in the last two World Cups when he’s not scored. I know how difficult it can be. I didn’t perform for England the way I’d have liked, especially at big tournaments. France ’98 was okay. It was a part of my career that was decent without being brilliant.

Euro 2004 was a low, however. I had a really bad tournament, for one reason or another, playing on the left-hand side. Playing out wide was not the issue – it is easy to make that excuse. Some of my best games for Manchester United were on the left, especially when Ryan was injured.

The truth is, I felt so much more comfortable playing in the Manchester United team than I did in the England team. Maybe the players weren’t as good then for England as I was used to at Old Trafford.

I was never left out of the England team, even though I wasn’t playing well enough at that point to be in the side. You need to be left out of the team to ‘galvanise’ your thoughts. Sven never dropped me and it might have just been the kick up the backside that was needed.

However, Wayne and myself are very different characters. He could take it badly getting dropped as he wants to play every game, whereas I’d say to myself, ‘Come on, lad – you need to get yourself going’.

Wayne Rooney

BRAZIL-BOUND Wayne Rooney for England – this is his tournament to step up

Wayne is old school

The standout thing about Wayne is he always wants to be playing football. He’s almost like a schoolkid. You can’t stop him from training, in a day and age when many players don’t really want to train properly and only train if they have to. It’s quite easy to get yourself out of training with ‘fitness’ problems. Wayne is different. He’s old school. He loves being a footballer.

His best attributes are his energy, desire, a will to win which is unbelievable – but, above all, his goals. Wayne wants all the responsibility to score. He’ll try to play left back, right back. Sometimes he does that too much instead of saving himself and his energy for what his teams need – the ball in the net. He needs to use his energy more effectively now as he’s a player who likes to be up front on his own and I don’t think he’s great with partnerships.

Wayne was in the Everton team at 16 years of age, in 2003. Since then he’s played at Euro 2004, two World Cups, Premier League, and Champions League every year at United. There’s a chance he’s worn out. Wayne’s peak may have been a lot younger than what we’d expect of footballers traditionally. Age 28 or 29 has been the normal ‘peak’. With Wayne, it could have been when he scored 27 league goals in 2011/2012 when he was 26.


Wayne has all the ability to take over my position

It’ll be interesting next season with Louis van Gaal at Manchester United and how he decides to play Wayne. It looks like it might come to a straight choice between Wayne and Robin van Persie (who looks to be coming into form at the right time after that stunning goal the other night against Ecuador).

Wayne might be a player who’d retire come 31 or 32, given the amount of football he’s played. Ryan Giggs has been on the go for ages, but he adjusted his position. Can Wayne do the same? I don’t think Wayne will be able to play centre forward until he’s 34 or 35. But he could play centre midfield, possibly, into his mid-thirties.

He’s got all the ability to take over my old position at Manchester United. He has played some games there, but has never gone on an uninterrupted run. Whether he has the discipline to do it, right now I’m not sure.

I’m not saying Wayne needs to be dropped but if form doesn’t get up to scratch in the warm-ups, or in the first game of the World Cup, it’ll be interesting to see if the England management team has the balls to make that decision. We have quality forwards in the squad this time. That should give Wayne the competition he needs to spur him on a little more.

To get the very best from Wayne in Rio, the manager needs to tell him: ‘Don’t bother running back. Stay up top. Stay centre forward. Score goals. That’s your job in my team.’

Louis Van Gaal

  • Betting: Tackle the latest Paddy Power World Cup odds here > mobile | desktop

Woodward has to prove he has what it takes

I’ve not spoken to Edward Woodward. I came back for Ryan Giggs for the last few games to try to help out but I’m not waiting for a phonecall and don’t expect to be at Old Trafford next season. Louis van Gaal (above) has the credentials.

He’s been at the biggest clubs in the world but he has a major job on his hands at Man United. It’s a massive task and there’s a big gap to fill to catch Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool next season. United are a long way behind. If van Gaal gets them to the Champions League, it’ll be a start.

The players did not perform last season. The manager was a little negative with the teams he put out but I wasn’t around the place in training until Ryan asked me back, so I can’t judge properly. David Moyes took a lot of stick, but I believe he’s a top manager. I’d question if 10 months was enough time.

Edward Woodward has an awful lot to prove this time that he’s good enough at his job. He has to bring the players in that the new manager wants. It’s obvious that last year he didn’t manage to do that. If he doesn’t, we are not going to get anywhere near the top.

The first player I’d bring in is Toni Kroos. He’s a top-class central midfield player but United need five or six to get anywhere near the top of the Premier League again.

Read Paul Scholes, exclusively for Paddy Power, here on the Paddy Power Blog every week.

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  1. Anonymous said on May 22, 2014 @ 8:26 am


  2. Bill Sullivan said on May 22, 2014 @ 9:14 am

    Talking a lot of sense. I totally agree in that Rooney shouldn’t be chasing back like he does – but that was done out of sheer frustration because he wasn’t getting the ‘feed & support’ from the rest of his team-mates. Let’s hope Wayne has a good World Cup along with the England team.

  3. tony. e said on May 22, 2014 @ 9:33 am

    Lets hope Wayne gets the gig and does the business. As for United we have a great deal of talent out on loan Van Gall has to sort the wheat from the chaff, make two or three significant signings Tony Kroos would be a great start. As for Wayne doing the same job as P Scholes I would love to see it but have my doubts. He has been exceptional this past season work rate underestimated by critics, how many times was he in defensive corners covering for Eva. Need defenders that understand their priority role in life is to defend. This will allow Wayne to terrorise opposition defences.

  4. Paul Scholes' First Venture Into Football Writing Is Seriously Opinionated said on May 22, 2014 @ 9:40 am

    […] Refreshingly honest as you’d expect from Scholes, and a world away from the halfhearted, over-cautious ‘World Cup columns’ we so often see from ex-players every fourth summer. Read the full blog post here. […]

  5. Lass said on May 22, 2014 @ 9:41 am

    Cheers, Scholesy. Legend!

  6. Colin E said on May 22, 2014 @ 9:45 am

    Spoken like the true legend Paul is..the Truth!!

  7. Kevin said on May 22, 2014 @ 9:47 am

    Wow,scholesy.Honest as always.Love how you don’t give a shit and wrote all this,large parts it is true.
    Woodward should be fired if he fails this time or his deals with the transfers should be taken by someone else IF HE FAILS.
    Your article on rooney is completely true.Rooney when he plays for united drops deeper a lot than he should so that he can help the midfielders.We lack pace.Carrick,cleverley are okayish but not the quality united needs to be among st the best in europe.Right now we’re not even the best in Manchester.Hope signing of kroos makes rooney play more upfront and hope we get a defensive mid like khedria,strootman or even a emerging talent.A defensive mid would solve the rooney dropping deeper issue and we can be more potent in the front and not always rely on RvP.

  8. The juiciest bits from Paul Scholes’ football column debut | said on May 22, 2014 @ 10:27 am

    […] Just like he did with his regularly ill-timed tackles, Scholes takes no prisoners and if it’s straight-talking you’re looking for, then you can check out what he has to say here. […]

  9. Colin Williams said on May 22, 2014 @ 10:32 am

    Well that was refreshingly honest and interesting. Thanks.

  10. tony said on May 22, 2014 @ 10:39 am

    to be honest i never rated rooney and im not a big fan, he has performed in the past but i feel its time for him to move aside, his weight has always been a problem and i dont believe he performs well on the international stage, he tries to hard, gets frustrated then loses position.
    its refreshing to hear honest comments.
    i would rather not see rooney in this England team..

  11. Tony said on May 22, 2014 @ 10:40 am

    Spot on here Scholesy. refreshingly honest without wanting to say stuff just to make headlines.

    Rooney, needs to be more disciplined in staying forward, ok when we are at the game we love it, we cheer when he runs back makes a tackle etc, but tactically it isnt sound. Too much time when he is a lone striker hes in midfield, in his head for the good of our team because he just loves too have the ball but effectively it costs us.

  12. Chuck said on May 22, 2014 @ 11:54 am

    Great article. As a Rooney fan, mostly because he hustles and tries so hard, I would tend to agree – this hustle and passion actually hurts his team because it makes him less offensively effective. His has the vision and skills to play like Scholes (and unfortunately the tackling ability) but I am not sure he has the discipline to stay at home and let others do their job

  13. Paul Mallon said on May 22, 2014 @ 12:01 pm

    Cheers for the comment, Chuck. Clear that Mr Scholes rates Wayne Rooney incredibly highly – but really wants to see him maximizing his talents as a centre forward.

  14. Paul Mallon said on May 22, 2014 @ 12:01 pm

    No Rooney for England? That’s a bit harsh, Tony. Competition with Sturridge is going to be fierce.

  15. Paul Mallon said on May 22, 2014 @ 12:02 pm

    Thanks for comment Colin – passing on.

  16. Jango said on May 22, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

    How would you field Rooney,mata and rvp in the same starting 11 ?

  17. Neal said on May 22, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

    Great insight Mr Scholes. Keep writing and I will keep reading. You are a legend.

  18. les said on May 22, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

    Well its sad to see English football depend so much on forign players when we have kids that are working hard and generating great football no doubt Paul will agree

  19. Really Upbeat » Paul Scholes Says David Moyes Was 'Negative' At Manchester United said on May 22, 2014 @ 1:05 pm

    […] Scholes also revealed in a candid blog post he did not expect to remain at United following Louis van Gaal’s managerial appointment and also questioned whether Roy Hodgson had the “balls” to drop Wayne Rooney at the World Cup. […]

  20. Jason said on May 22, 2014 @ 1:27 pm

    as a man of “excellent opinions”, as fergie once said, paul scholes is the man to manage man united in the future. here’s to hoping.

  21. kastro said on May 22, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

    van gaal the best man for utd

  22. Kresan said on May 22, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

    Paul Scholes . . . The greatest of all time!

  23. jonbmth said on May 22, 2014 @ 11:39 pm

    Lets face it, Rooney has not done anything for England, apart from score against very weak opposition; yes he is a good player, but not the world class beater that people think he is.
    Lets not forget he gets a lot of protection from the English PL players; and also gets away with a lot…
    At the last Euro’s he wasn’t interested..
    He should never be an automatic choice; there are a lot better goalscorers and providers for England; but again it is who he plays for that gets him there, just as the other United players got in the England squad who shouldn’t be there…

  24. Gordon Andre said on May 30, 2014 @ 2:16 am

    Stunning column.Football fans and general public respect PS. Woodward really needs to step up as a football operator.we all know Woodward can sign sponsorships. Ed…..we want you to become great at signing great and potential footballers.Focus all your personal development on how to become great at understanding talent and how to sign talent. You can do it it. Even DavidG and Sir A misses a few targets.

  25. Paul Scholes: England Should Play Rooney Intelligently. - The Red Quarter said on May 31, 2014 @ 8:39 pm

    […] most have made their own interpretations. My thoughts are below but you can read the actual article here. The article is titled “How England can get the best out of Wayne Rooney” but it really […]

  26. Tommy said on June 2, 2014 @ 12:31 pm

    Top comments from Scholsey, the best player weve ever had at United, proper legend

  27. Wayne Rooney Slams Paul Scholes, Gary Neville Attacks Media over England Notes | Essential Post said on June 12, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

    […] The two played together at Manchester United, but that didn’t stop Scholes from chiding Rooney for what he sees as a dip in form in recent seasons, per his blog for Paddy Power. […]

  28. World Cup Schedule 2014: TV Info, Live Stream and Start Times for Day 3 | Essential Post said on June 14, 2014 @ 10:12 am

    […] Manchester United teammate Paul Scholes has criticised Rooney’s recent form, per Paddy Power. Meanwhile, Rooney has also had to contend with Hodgson shifting him out of […]

  29. michael cleary said on July 4, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

    well said scholsy it needed to be said was disappioned with rooneys reaction to your views did he actually read your column you were praising and as for Stephen gerrard well what would you expect England will never win anything if they cant take cristism and ive no axe to grind im irish

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