The Wayne Rooney decision; change up a winning side?


England loves its old soccer coaching platitudes the way America loves its old baseball coaching platitudes.

Theories that aren’t necessarily rooted in data analysis or any substantial base of fact are taken as gospel. For instance, the old school conventional wisdom says you don’t change up a winning team.

But what if that team’s best player represents said “change?” What if this walking and talking coaching conundrum represents the team’s best chance at greater glory? Because that’s exactly what we have with Wayne Rooney and England.

We may as well start talking about this now; because the Rooney decision will be a sure talker from now until the minute Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson announces his team Tuesday against Ukraine. Rooney is back from his two-game suspension and available for selection. Of course, that means somebody must move to the bench.

It could be Andy Carroll – except that Carroll scored a superb goal in Friday’s 3-2 win over Sweden, a result that has England needing just a tie to advance into next week’s elimination stage.

It could be Danny Welbeck, Rooney’s Manchester United teammates – only Welbeck scored an even more superb goal in Friday’s big win.

Said Hodgson: “I welcome those kind of selection problems,” he said. “I was really pleased with the performance of the front players, but Wayne Rooney is a special player and, frankly, it will be hard to leave him out.”

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