England without Wayne Rooney is like a car without an engine. Going nowhere.
Finally back from a broken foot, Rooney played the last 32 minutes of England's 2-0 World Cup victory over Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday. He didn't score or make any contribution to the late goals by Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard that guaranteed England a place in the second round.
He didn't need to.
Rooney's first World Cup appearance lifted the confidence of the players and transformed England from a team of fumblers to a side that might get close to winning the title.
Against a team of journeyman players, England failed to illustrate the huge gulf in ability. The England players should have been 3-0 up before Rooney ran on. Instead, they looked ordinary.
When he did enter the game, there was always danger when England attacked. He used his speed to chase through balls and ran at defenders, always threatening to shoot. While Trinidad surrounded him with three markers, that left far more room for his teammates to set up chances.
Take Rooney away, and England looks clueless.
Rooney has the ability to get the best out of the other talented players on the England team. When he's not there, these experienced players, who have been together for at least two years, act like a team of total strangers.
While Rooney sat on the bench, he joined the 30,000 or so frustrated England fans wondering how their team was struggling against one of the complete outsiders in the 32-team competition.
Players from English lower league clubs such as Port Vale, Gillingham and Wrexham were holding out the guys from Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, reports AP.