Rooney's vigour remains absent in everything but rash booking

The Rooney of old revealed itself not long before the hour. More's the pity that it was the Wayne Rooney who causes every fan with his interests at heart a sharp intake of breath at times. Gareth Barry had just conceded a counter attack which sent Elsad Zverotic skipping through the England midfield with Rooney in hot pursuit. The striker launched into one of those unbridled tackles which look like trouble – and almost always are.

Rooney's yellow card might have been worth it if the sudden energy burst was part of one of those energised displays in which he will turn up in the right-back's slot, thump a ball 50 yards and then hare after it. That mental image seems as distant a memory as a storming Rooney performance for England. Croatia at home over a year ago is the most recent that comes to mind and there has been one goal in 12 games since that September evening.

Rooney recently spoken of the personal "pain" he has been feeling in the throes of the two-week break from football which, in the case of Manchester United's games at Valencia and Sunderland, seems to have been compassionate leave rather than injury trouble.

The rather neglected point in that interview was that Rooney feels he is adapting to another new United system, behind Dimitar Berbatov rather than being the man up at the top which he so took to last season. The same went for the formation last night, with Rooney nestling behind Peter Crouch in a formation, reliant on wing play, which seemed correct for the obdurate Montenegran defence. If you can't go through them, go around them.

But when it came down to it, there was still so much missing from Rooney's game. The passing was often loose and inaccurate; the foraging for the ball which is so integral to his game, is still missing. When Glen Johnson crossed accurately as the game entered its last 20 minutes, Rooney's back-flicked header went ballooning up into the night sky. When he had managed to turn into some space soon afterwards and fasten on to the ball, the attentions of defender Miodrag Dzudovic and a fine right-handed save from Mladen Bozovic conspired to deny Rooney a goal.

There was another of the old Rooney moments clustered in amongst that late rally: the controlled pass out to Gareth Barry and sprint into the area to receive it back would have been divine, had Barry's return ball had been allowed to complete its trajectory to the 24-year-old's waiting boot. Instead, Zverotic headed clear.

There was also a smart save for Bozovic from Barry to make after Rooney had clambered high to head a ball which Kevin Davies helped on. Don't let the disappointment of England's limited creativity disguise the admirable defensive qualities of Zlatko Kranjcar's side. As Kranjcar said later: "You saw how we stopped Rooney. I usually watch Premier League games and I know English football very well."

When the dot matrix board came up it was inevitably calling in Crouch, a player whose isolation here was more to do with Rooney's failure to link with him than anything else. It should have been Rooney who processed off, to make way for Davies, and Capello's claim last night that the former talisman had a "normal game" was dubious.

The last image of Rooney was a final remonstration with Zverotic, perhaps about that booking. The crisis around him won't abate until his game lifts considerably – but the old Rooney looks a long way off.

Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Life and Style
life“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice