Record-chasing Wayne Rooney accepts goal scrutiny

Wayne Rooney accepts that his return of goals will always be used to judge him even as he goes in pursuit of England history against San Marino on Saturday.

AFP| Last Updated: Sep 05, 2015, 09:21 AM IST
Record-chasing Wayne Rooney accepts goal scrutiny

Serravalle: Wayne Rooney accepts that his return of goals will always be used to judge him even as he goes in pursuit of England history against San Marino on Saturday.

Having equalled Gary Lineker`s tally of 48 England goals with a winner against Slovenia in June, Rooney needs two goals to break Bobby Charlton`s record of 49, which has stood since May 1970.

Although he scored a Champions League hat-trick last month, away to Club Brugge, he has not found the net in the Premier League for Manchester United since April, but he says age has taught him to put his fallow spells in perspective.

"As a striker, you want to score goals. That`s quite obvious. Because of my past, it goes a bit overboard if I don`t score," Rooney, 29, told reporters ahead of Saturday`s Euro 2016 qualifier in Serravalle.

"That`s what I feel. I`m a team player. Obviously I want to score, but sometimes you have to accept that you`re not going to score goals in some games.

"It`s not happened in the league so far this season. Up until the Swansea game (when United lost 2-1) we`d had a decent start. Hopefully after these games I can start scoring in the league.

"Six or seven years ago I`d have been a lot more frustrated. Now I have to be patient. I know the chances will come and I`ll have to take them."

He added: "It`s been the last few games, it (breaking Charlton`s record) keeps coming up. It`ll be nice to finally do it and put it to the back of my mind."

Rooney is also closing in on Charlton`s United scoring record and needs 17 goals to become the club`s outright leading scorer.

But though he admitted last year that his achievements with England will not match up to Charlton`s until he wins a major tournament, he believes that an emphasis on silverware can sometimes be misleading."Up to a couple of years ago, I`ve seen people saying Lionel Messi isn`t (Diego) Maradona because he hasn`t won the World Cup," Rooney said. "In my eyes, Messi is a better player than Maradona.

"But that`s the way football is. The trophies you win as a team, especially if it`s the World Cup, that`s how you can judge people.

"Sir Bobby did that, which is obviously great for the country. Hopefully there`s still time for me to be successful like that."

England manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Rooney will start against San Marino at the tiny Stadio Olimpico, where his side are widely expected to obtain the victory they need to book their ticket to France.

John Stones, Jamie Vardy and recalled Swansea City midfielder Jonjo Shelvey will also feature from kick-off.

Having lost 8-0 on England`s last visit, in March 2013, San Marino`s main objective will be keeping the score respectable.

But England fans of a certain age will remember all too well the uncomfortable 20 minutes that elapsed after Davide Gualteri opened the scoring after only 8.3 seconds in a World Cup qualifier between the teams in Bologna in November 1993 -- a tournament record that still stands.

After equalising through Paul Ince in the 21st minute, England eventually won 7-1, but it was not enough to secure them a place at the World Cup and remains an unpleasant memory.

San Marino will also draw hope from the fact they held Estonia to a 0-0 draw in their last home game in November, which was the first time they had avoided defeat in 60 home European Championship qualifiers.

"These matches are special," said San Marino coach Pierangelo Manzaroli.

"This will be a special game. But we have a professional group. The fact the stadium is sold out is a source of pride, but there will be more England supporters than San Marino supporters."

After returning from Serravalle, England host Switzerland on Tuesday, while San Marino visit Lithuania.