It was Hodgson’s lucky day in Nice yesterday when he was handed a qualifying draw for Euro 2016 so inviting it might as well have come ready-packaged with Eurostar tickets.
Things had gone rather well for Hodgson the previous Friday, too, when Rooney signed the mammoth contract which should send him to the World Cup in Brazil this summer more contented than at any previous major tournament.
Come Saturday at Crystal Palace, there was a performance of both spectacular invention and rugged determination from the nation’s first £300,000-a-week footballer.
It was followed at the end by a big grin for the TV cameras. Rooney was even unpeturbed by the barrage of missiles he received from the home supporters.
As this was happening, an endless chorus from the visiting contingent gleefully recalled the night Eric Cantona launched himself, Kung Fu-style at Matthew Simmonds on this ground. It planted a suggestion about what Rooney in a darker frame of mind might have come up with if he had bitten on the provocation.
Instead, he handed one coin to the referee, then scored the brilliant second goal which ended Palace’s resistance. It was the highlight of a display full of urgent energy and desire, with Rooney willing United with his vision and range to find the expansive touch which finally came their way; and putting in a shift at the back too.
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Down the years, it has been vividly apparent that Rooney’s form is controlled by his mood more than most big time players. If he is fit and happy on the field and off it – with his future settled – Hodgson can reasonably expect the real Rooney to finally show up in Rio.
It will all seem rather hollow if he never delivers for England on the big stage.
It might also open him up to a lot more hostility of the kind he glimpsed at Selhurst Park . A poor World Cup would unleash more of it upon him next season.
A litany of injuries and off-the field problems have diminished Rooney’s vast talent every time he has approached one of the big shows apart from Euro 2004, when he was an 18-year-old sensation.
He has scored only once in tournament football since then against Ukraine in June 2012. Ahead of the last World Cup , he had scored 35 times for club and country until he was injured against Bayern Munich in March. He never scored again. The tournament was an unparalleled calamity.
At Euro 2012, he was both injured and banned during the first two games and never really showed up afterwards.
Nobody should imagine that it could be the money alone which makes Rooney turn it on in Brazil. But his new contract clears the stage, fitness permitting. Let’s hope England cash in now, too.