Paul Parker

Don’t make Rooney England captain

Paul Parker

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The last thing Wayne Rooney needs going into the World Cup is to be made captain of England.

There is already enough pressure on him, as he is the player every England fan will be pinning their hopes on.

He is a player who leads by example on the pitch, and he can do that without the armband.

Just let him get on with doing what he loves, which is playing football, instead of saddling him with interviews and team talks. I think Fabio Capello is smart enough not to load a further burden on his star man's shoulders.

As far as John Terry goes, I think most England players would still be happy to play with him as captain. But although it might not affect the football side, off the pitch his actions have been extremely damaging.

He has failed to live up to his position as a role model, and brought controversy and instability to the England set-up. For that reason, I think he has to go.

To be honest, I think the role of captaincy in football is overstated. This is not cricket or rugby, where the captain is involved in key tactical and selection decisions.

Manchester United have had countless players wearing the armband in the last couple of seasons, and were led by Patrice Evra on Sunday. As long as you have natural leaders in the squad it does not matter who is captain - they just need to be comfortable with the extra media commitments.

As far as England go, there are plenty of players who could step up and do the job, like Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. Just not Rooney.

The forward was in spectacular form against Arsenal on Sunday in what was United's most complete performance of the season.

They smothered Arsenal in midfield with the discipline and energy of Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick, then hit them hard with some brilliant counter-attacking play.

It is too early to say the game was a turning point for Nani, but he certainly showed why Sir Alex has stuck by him when many people thought he should be sold.

That was topped off by the commitment and skill of Rooney, typified in his lung-busting 70-yard run to finish off United's second goal; his 100th in the Premier League.

We have to remember, however, that Rooney is a human, not a robot, and he will not be able to maintain this level of form right up to the World Cup.

Every player has fluctuations, and inevitably Rooney will have the odd duff game here and there. It is important that those around him ease off and don't pile too much pressure on.

He is Manchester United and England's most important player, and will want to play every game for both teams from now until July.

He will not take kindly to being rested, and England fans will just have to keep their fingers crossed that he stays fit and fresh throughout the rest of this season and the World Cup.

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