Hen­der­son backs Rooney to cope with boos

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Eng­land mid­fielder Jor­dan Hen­der­son in­sists un­der-fire Wayne Rooney won’t let the boo boys throw him off his game. Rooney was jeered by frus­trated Eng­land fans af­ter the Manch­ester United star capped a lack­lus­tre per­for­mance with a way­ward shot in the clos­ing stages of his coun­try’s 2-0 win over Malta at Wem­b­ley on Satur­day. The Eng­land cap­tain had al­ready en­dured a dif­fi­cult sea­son, with United man­ager Jose Mour­inho dropping him re­cently, but the taunts that greeted his un­der­whelm­ing ef­fort against min­nows Malta were a new low. Hen­der­son is con­fi­dent Rooney will be able to ig­nore the boos be­cause he has be­come ac­cus­tomed to deal­ing with scru­tiny and crit­i­cism through­out his ca­reer. “Wayne’s ex­pe­ri­enced enough to know he has to con­cen­trate on his foot­ball. I think he’s had crit­i­cism for most of his ca­reer, like many play­ers have,” Hen­der­son said.

“He deals with it very well. He’s our cap­tain and our leader. He’s a fan­tas­tic player for Manch­ester United and Eng­land. “I didn’t re­ally hear any boos, but we have to deal with it as pro­fes­sional foot­ballers. There is go­ing to be crit­i­cism along the way.” Rooney wasn’t alone in hav­ing to deal with jeers dur­ing the World Cup qual­i­fier as there were boos for the whole team fol­low­ing a dis­jointed sec­ond half. Hen­der­son ad­mit­ted the fans’ crit­i­cism was in­evitable af­ter Eng­land’s em­bar­rass­ing Euro 2016 exit against lowly Ice­land. “We just have to fo­cus on whats im­por­tant as a team. That’s stay­ing to­gether and win­ning games,” Hen­der­son said. “I said dur­ing the week the fans had a right to crit­i­cise af­ter the way we went out of the Eu­ros. Not only the Eu­ros but in the World Cup as well. “We’ve got to take the crit­i­cism and we de­serve it. But I feel as though they know we are a good team and want us to do well. “It’s up to us to put in good per­for­mances and win games.”

LIM­ITED SUC­CESS

Rooney had spent his en­tire ca­reer as a striker un­til last sea­son when for­mer United boss Louis van Gaal used him in mid­field with lim­ited suc­cess. Mour­inho is adamant the 30-year-old’s best po­si­tion is up front, but Eng­land in­terim man­ager Gareth South­gate dis­agrees and de­ployed Rooney in a deep-ly­ing mid­field role on Satur­day.

Rooney looked a fish out of wa­ter for long spells and Hen­der­son, who played along­side him in mid­field, con­ceded their part­ner­ship still needs work. “I felt he had a good per­for­mance. He got on the ball and broke it up at times,” Hen­der­son said.

“It was just mak­ing sure that we were com­mu­ni­cat­ing and mak­ing we weren’t both get­ting ahead of the ball and leav­ing gaps in the mid­dle. “We had to be sure one was al­ways pro­tect­ing and the other was get­ting for­ward.

“I felt we had that bal­ance most of the time but there were a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions when it could have been bet­ter, so we will look back at that and that’s an area we need to im­prove on.”

South­gate re­fused to take the bait when asked if Rooney’s dis­play showed Mour­inho was right.

“Look, Jose will have his opin­ion on what’s right for his team. I have to pick a team to get a re­sult to­day. I don’t see any point in get­ting drawn into that,” he said. —AFP

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