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Teddy Sheringham: No more Mr Nice Guy – Wayne Rooney needs to play on the edge again and lead England from the number 10 role

In his first exclusive column for Paddy Power, former England international Teddy Sheringham tells us how Rooney can lead England into Euro 2016

Rooney has to play on the edge

Teddy thinks that to get the best out of Rooney he needs to be in the number 10 role, and he needs to be a little bit nasty...

Wayne Rooney is an unbelievable presence on a football pitch when he’s firing on all cylinders. I like it when he’s a little bit angry because he’s nastily in full-flow. He hunts defenders down for the ball and it’s scarily good. He probably hasn’t been doing that this season, but if he’s put in his rightful position, closer to the number nine where he can dictate football matches then he will. Roy Hodgson needs to tell him to go out there and be nasty on the football pitch and lead this England team. Be the captain, believe how good you are, and show the young lads that we don’t care about anyone else. That’s what I’d love to see.

I want Rooney to take this tournament by the scruff of the neck and start ripping people apart. Rooney needs to be hunting people down, nicking the ball off them, and being aggressive all over the pitch because that’s when he is at his absolute best. He needs to be playing on the edge again. As a young lad that’s where he was and, yes he was getting sent off and picking up bookings, but that’s where he’s at his best, when he’s aggressive and horrible.

The worry with Wayne Rooney isn’t necessarily his form this season for Manchester United, it’s where he’s being made to play by Louis van Gaal. I don’t like him as a left winger. I don’t like him as a central midfield player. He’s a good midfielder, not an exceptional midfielder. But he is an exceptional attacker. Rooney is a goal scorer and there’s an art to scoring goals. So why play him in midfield and misuse that art? He’s England’s all-time top scorer and although there’s a certain pressure playing for England, Rooney has that experience – so put him somewhere where he understands the pressure and he understands what he’s good at and what he has to do.

The number 10 role suits him perfectly because he can play it how he wants. He can make it his own. If he wants to drop into midfield, sprint past Harry Kane at number nine, move out wide, or just sit in that hole and feed other players. Rooney is 30-years-old, he’s an experienced man. He knows what he can do on a football pitch, and he knows what he can’t do on a football pitch. This role allows him to take a game by the scruff of the neck and dictate.

At number 10 Rooney can do exactly what is needed at any particular time for the good of the team. If Roy Hodgson plays him there, Rooney can lead England deep into the latter stages of Euro 2016.

What do you think?