There was a moment at Wembley on Thursday when it seemed as if officials of the Football Association had come to their senses.
On the FA website, Gareth Southgate and his latest squadron of England players were listed with a portrait of each player. In addition to the photo of the manager from England, however, there was an empty space. It was where Wayne Rooney should have been.
But it turned out that he was absent only because they had no picture of the 33-year-old former captain in the current English-sponsored Nike kit. There were also empty spaces above the names of Michael Keane and Callum Wilson, as it turned out.
Gareth Southgate has defended the decision to bring back Wayne Rooney for a final cap
The 33-year-old former captain will bow his last bow of England against the US in a friendly manner
It meant that Southgate still had to defend this ridiculous decision to remind Rooney of the English team, and he did so to his great honor in much the same way he once defended the 18-yard line. He was calm and composed, had everything under control.
But his performance was not without flaws, the suggestion that a cheap cap for Rooney was no different than a player who got a few minutes in the final stages of a friendly being, one of them.
& # 39; I played in games where we changed the whole team at rest & # 39 ;, he added.
For the players who have trained their tails throughout the week and then experienced the immense pride that has to be delivered by the English-speaking manager you are going to follow, it seems hard.
Southgate admits that he did not personally speak to Rooney about the sentimental recall
Maybe he wants to remember some of the players that actually took advantage of it when Sven Goran Eriksson changed the whole team in peace. It was in such a match, against Australia in Upton Park that Rooney made his international debut.
In all honesty to Southgate, Eriksson occasionally devalued the importance of friendly matches with the huge number of replacements he would do. But there were times on Thursday that Southgate threatened to sound like someone who thinks these matches are pretty pointless.
He did his best to avoid such accusations, and the selection of 28 players – including the aforementioned Wilson – made it more difficult to suggest that Rooney was a player who deserved more inclusion. Players like Daniel Sturridge and Danny Ings can of course have a different opinion.
With substitutions in international friendly games now limited to six, someone suggested that Rooney would effectively deny another player a cap if he would shoot against the US next week. And he will. But with Croatia to follow three days later, Southgate says he plans to use every available player in the course of the two matches.
Rooney has had a strong shape this season for his club side DC United in MLS
ENGLAND SQUAD TO FACE USA AND CROATIA LATER THIS MONTH
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham) Jack Butland (Stoke city), Ben Chilwell (Leicester city), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Lewis Dunk (Brighton & Hove Albion), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Michael Keane (Everton), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Alex McCarthy (Southampton), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (DC United) *, Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), Callum Wilson (AFC Bournemouth), Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur)
* Will only be friendly to America.
That being said, concerns remained. As suspected, this was not the idea of Southgate. It was something he agreed to after it was brought to him & # 39 ;. Indeed, he has so little to do with the situation that he admitted that he had not even spoken to Rooney.
Fortunately, Southgate is still in charge of the team and he has confirmed that Rooney will not start the game and for that reason will not wear the No 10 shirt. And when it comes to choosing a time when Rooney's turn comes in the second half of the season, Southgate said that he mainly steered at him & # 39; before people set out for the subway.
He said, however, that he would not object if the captain on the field next Thursday handed Rooney the bracelet as a sign of respect. Southgate said the discussions about Rooney & # 39; started more than 12 months ago.
& # 39; My involvement was around whether I was happy that he played a role in the game and my answer was yes, & # 39; he said. I am still able to look to the future with the team I have chosen, but I have talked a lot about the importance and history of the shirt and honoring former players. I think all players would respect that Wayne's contribution deserves the best possible broadcast.
The striker last picked up a shirt from England in a victory over Scotland two years ago
I understand that this has caused a lot of discussion, but it is a small way of appreciating what he has received for his country. He has earned the right to that hat for a period of more than 10 years and six major tournaments with England and as the record goalcorateur. & # 39;
He presented some decent arguments. He noted that it is a "strange country". is that in this way the challenge is to honor a sporting hero. But he also contradicted himself. His own debut in England, & # 39; 10 minutes in a friendly match against Portugal & # 39 ;, was & # 39; the most important day of my life & # 39 ;.
And that's the point, because that's how much it matters. The FA can say that it is a fitting tribute and they can even point out the 15,000 tickets they have sold since the news about Rooney's involvement emerged.
But on Thursday, in addition to the name of Rooney, they have printed a team magazine with an asterisk, stating that he is only involved in this game. It looked crazy, and that's because it's stupid.