Martin Smith column: Rooney again? Give us a break, whinging England fans

England's Wayne Rooney (centre), Jamie Vardy (2nd right) at the final whistle following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at Wembley Stadium. Pic: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
England's Wayne Rooney (centre), Jamie Vardy (2nd right) at the final whistle following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying match at Wembley Stadium. Pic: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
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International break?

Torture more like. Good only for shopping, shed clearance and visiting relatives.

Calling off professional fixtures to accommodate national teams is a bit like shutting down the nation’s motorways because of a lane closure at Tinsley viaduct.

It puts the spotlight on our national weaknesses - never a good idea for England - and brings the Rooney Rule into effect.

Not the Rooney Rule that requires US teams to interview minority candidates for senior jobs. No, the Rooney Rule says every England report, conversation and debate has to be about Wayne Rooney.

And the worse the game the more hysterically we have to talk about him. You know it’s got bad when callers to football phone-ins are more reasonable and balanced than those taking the calls.

The nation seems to think that Rooney has let us down - as did Beckham, Gascoigne, Robson, Hoddle, Keegan etc before them.

All supremely talented footballers who couldn’t carry the national team to success.

So we crucify them. Hold them personally responsible for our collective national failure.

Yes they get paid vast fortunes to perform and we have a right to be annoyed when they don’t.

But we need to get a grip and stop behaving like the vicious and embittered nation of whiners we appear to be becoming.

Meanwhile it’s great to see Owls’ old boss Ron Atkinson looking and sounding something like his old self. Chris Holt’s excellent interview in The Star has the former Owls boss speaking glowingly about his Wednesday side of the early 1990s.

Of course he would, he has a new book to push.

But that was some team he had then and some era for this city.

They’re sick of hearing it but it must be hard for anyone under the age of 25 to imagine Sheffield’s football status back then.

Two sides in the top division with Atkinson and Dave Bassett in charge.

Colourful, nationally prominent football figures with teams that reflected their personalities and the character of their supporters.

Wednesday brash, talented and tricky, United a winning unit with skill and aggression.

The memories of those days have come to haunt us in the leaner years since and Atkinson and Bassett have had their subsequent ups and downs.

But the two of them and their players gave this city some of its most memorable and significant days.

We’ll always owe them for that.