Despite scoring his 41st goal for the Three Lions last week and being named as the new permanent captain by Roy Hodgson, Wayne Rooney is still under intense pressure from the English media and fans after a lackluster display.
[RELATED: Euro 2016 preview]
The Manchester United forward skippered England to a 1-0 win against Norway in a friendly last Thursday, in front of a record low crowd of just over 40,000 at Wembley Stadium. England’s fans aren’t full of optimism following a World Cup campaign which saw them exit at the group stage this summer.
Rooney, 28, has the hopes of a nation on his shoulders as England prepare for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland on Monday. With Hodgson’s men under pressure to perform away against the Swiss in Basel, Rooney is adamant his teammates are up to the task of getting their qualifying campaign off and running in a positive manner.
England are planning to silence the critics.
“There is the determination,” Rooney said. “We’re a tight-knit group and we’re working hard together to get the best out of each other. We’ve got a lot of quality in the team and it’s about that quality coming together. It’s probably the most difficult game of the group and we want to do well and come out of it with a good result. We are ready. We’ve had a bit more time through the week to prepare for the game and we’re excited. It’s going to be a big test but we feel we have the quality to do well.”
If England don’t get at least a point against the Swiss, Rooney, Hodgson and the rest of the team will be under even more pressure. There is a sour smell in the air around the England camp. With injuries to players such as Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and others, plus the retirements of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard over the summer, youngsters such as Jack Wilshere, Calum Chambers and even Fabian Delph could play a pivotal role on Monday.
Rooney’s role as the leader is vital. Four years ago England went to Basel and won 3-1 in a qualifier for Euro 2012 and Rooney scored. What Hodgson and his men would do for a repeat of that result this time around…