Rooney's best years are over
Scholes delivers shocking verdict on former United teammate
REPORTING FROM THE UK
In 20 years as a Manchester United employee, Paul Scholes avoided the press and hardly ever voiced an opinion.
Well, he's making up for lost time now.
In March, his withering assessment of his old club marked the moment when David Moyes' credibility was irreparably shattered.
Now his new column with bookmaker Paddy Power has delivered an equally stunning verdict on the limitations of his former teammate Wayne Rooney.
Scholes initially praised Rooney's desire to play football, but it wasn't long before he unleashed a series of damning, but entirely accurate verdicts on the England forward's capabilities.
According to Scholes, Rooney "needs to use his energy more effectively now", instead of trying to play everywhere on the pitch at once.
"He does that too much instead of saving himself and his energy for what his teams need," the former United midfielder added.
Scholes, 39, suggested that Rooney might make a good midfielder, saying that he had "all the ability to take over my old position", but then went on to question "whether he had the discipline to do it".
Finally, and most damagingly, Scholes suggested that 28-year-old's best years might already be behind him.
"There's a chance he's worn out," Scholes said. "Wayne's peak may have been a lot younger than what we'd expect of footballers traditionally."
Scholes' words are certainly a welcome breath of fresh air.
The mythology that surrounds Rooney tends to obscure his limitations as a footballer.
In England, work-rate and determination can be over-valued, the marks on a heatmap can be erroneously seen as the defining method of judging an individual's contribution.
Rooney has always played with the enthusiasm of a six-year-old boy, but while that was endearing when he was a teenager, it's rather less impressive as he approaches his 30th birthday.
All too often, he appears in the left-back position, harrying the opposition for the ball, winning it and then smashing it up the pitch into the void that he himself should be filling.
Channelled correctly, his desire should be an asset, but Rooney has always found it hard to sustain his levels of motivation and focus.
Rooney's best season came in 2009/10 when he was the unopposed front man, no longer obliged to do the running for Cristiano Ronaldo.
He was deployed up front, he stayed up front and he scored goals at an astonishing rate.
The improvement was so dramatic that Fabio Capello ripped up his existing framework to try and replicate United's formation for England, a move that backfired horribly.
After the disappointment of South Africa, Rooney returned to England in loathsome form and promptly picked a fight with United over what he saw as their failure to strengthen the squad to his liking.
The next season, he scored freely again. Then came another trough, the dreadful conclusion to the 2012/13 season and another fight with United because they had strengthened the squad to his liking and now he couldn't get a regular game.
Throughout the ups and downs of Rooney's career, Scholes kept his silence.
Moreover, he sustained his form, providing a first-class example of consistency and focus of which Rooney apparently took no notice.
Released from his responsibilities as a player and as a coach, for it seems that there will be no place for him under Louis van Gaal, Scholes now has the freedom to speak openly.
More than most, Scholes knows what it means to be a Manchester United player.
This is not a club where it is enough simply to be talented.
This is the club of Roy Keane, of Eric Cantona, of Ryan Giggs.
Talent is one thing. Intelligence, commitment, loyalty and a willingness to fight for the cause of the team, not the individual, is the real ethos of this organisation.
Rooney, for all that he has won, has never seemed to truly understand this.
And that's why Scholes is a club legend and Rooney is increasingly looked upon with suspicion.
ON WAYNE ROONEY'S POTENTIAL
"There's a chance he's worn out. Wayne's peak may have been a lot younger than what we'd expect of footballers traditionally.
Age 28 or 29 has been the normal 'peak'. With Wayne, it could have been when he scored 27 league goals in 2011/2012 when he was 26."
ON ROY HODGSON DROPPING ROONEY TO GET THE BEST OUT OF HIM
"If (his) form doesn't get up to scratch... it'll be interesting to see if the England management team have the b**** to make that decision. To get the best from Wayne, the manager needs to tell him: 'Don't bother running back. Stay up top.
Score goals. That's your job in my team'."
ON ROONEY AS A MIDFIELDER
"It'll be interesting next season with Louis van Gaal at Manchester United and how he decides to play Wayne. It looks like it might come to a straight choice between Wayne and Robin van Persie. Rooney's got all the ability to take over my old position. Whether he has the discipline to do it, right now I'm not sure."
ON JOINING VAN GAAL'S COACHING TEAM
"I've not spoken to Edward Woodward. I came back for Ryan Giggs for the last few games to try to help out, but I'm not waiting for a phone call and don't expect to be at Old Trafford next season."
ON WHETHER VAN GAAL IS THE RIGHT MAN FOR UNITED
"Louis van Gaal has the credentials but United are a long way behind. If van Gaal gets them to the Champions League, it'll be a start."
ON WHO UNITED NEED TO SIGN
"The first player I'd bring in is Toni Kroos. He's a top-class central midfield player but United need five or six to get anywhere near the top of the English Premier League again."
Wayne ready to shine in Brazil
Wayne Rooney admits he will have no excuses if this is another dud World Cup.
Rooney's last two World Cups have been affected by injuries and he is yet to score in eight matches at the Finals.
But the Manchester United forward insists he is fully fit following a recent groin injury and ready to play to his maximum in Brazil.
"I've been here before and I've said what I feel I can deliver and what I can do and it hasn't happened," he said, speaking at England's pre-World Cup training camp in the Algarve in Portugal.
"I think this is the one where I have to show what I can do. I believe I am in the best possible shape and the best condition I can be in to do that.
"I am ready for it. I am excited for it. There will be no excuses this time if I don't perform. I certainly won't be looking for any excuses this time.
"I feel good. I have no issues whatsoever and I am ready for this tournament. I am going to give everything and leave everything on the pitch."
Rooney went into the 2006 World Cup recovering from a broken bone in his foot before being sent off in England's quarter-final defeat by Portugal.
His build-up to the 2010 tournament in South Africa was hampered by an ankle problem, but Rooney says his current well-being means now is the time he must produce his best form.
Furthermore, he is also conscious that this summer represents his best opportunity to make a mark at the World Cup.
"For us, as a nation, I think it is the one thing that is missing," the 28-year-old said. "And then for me personally, I feel the World Cup in 2018, I'll be a bit older then so it will obviously be difficult to impact that the way I believe I can do.
"So, I feel this is the really last big one that I feel will probably get the best out of me."
Rooney's determination - he took two fitness coaches on his pre-tournament holiday to Portugal last week - has been praised by England manager Roy Hodgson.
"He is looking very good, very good indeed," Hodgson (above) said. "He realises what a good player he is and he knows we, as a football nation, place a lot of faith in him.
"He knows the eyes of England, if not the rest of the world, are on him." - PA Sport.