WAYNE ROONEY’S three-match ban is a huge blow to Fabio Capello, the whole team and England’s fans for next summer’s European Championships.
The Manchester United star let his colleagues down on the night – although they got away with it in Montenegro – but the long-term consequences of his red card are disastrous and that makes his actions even more unforgivable.
The length of the suspension seems a little harsh to me – a one-match ban was never realistic but I thought he might get away with missing two games of the tournament. Yet he has no-one to blame but himself.
He still has to be in the squad but it leaves his manager, Capello, in a horrible position. Rooney has been so central to England’s tactics for years; and now the Italian is left with no choice but to experiment in the handful of games he has left before Euro 2012.
There is no obvious like-for-like replacement out there in the Premier League. His United team-mate Ashley Young is perhaps the closest thing but he does not play in the deep-lying forward role for his club, so it would be asking a lot for him to switch from the wing to that position for an international tournament.
It’s too soon to nominate another striker to take Rooney’s place. England are going to have to see who performs throughout the rest of the season.
Capello might get lucky and hit upon a new winning system, but there’s every chance that he won’t. And there is always the danger that one or two of his other forwards fall victim to injuries.
The sad thing is that Rooney has been in great form. Now he’s more experienced I would have expected him to act with greater maturity, but the red mist has undone him again.