In Depth

Wayne Rooney earns his place on the team – as an ITV pundit

England captain charms critics as he side-steps difficult questions and reveals his son wanted a Jamie Vardy shirt

Wayne Rooney put in a solid performance as he made his debut as a TV pundit and joined the ITV commentary team for England's game against the Netherlands at Wembley.

Faced with awkward questions over his future, the injured England skipper, who is increasingly viewed as surplus to requirements by many, used all his media experience to navigate the minefield and, without a hint of arrogance, present the case for his own inclusion in Roy Hodgson's squad for Euro 2016.

It could have been a tricky night for Rooney, says Jim White of the Daily Telegraph. "ITV asking the injured England captain to comment on the next stage of his team's upward trajectory was a bit like getting Pete Best to give his critique on Rubber Soul," he writes.

But Rooney's experienced enough to choose his words carefully. "He was as likely to say something controversial as Donald Trump is to say something emollient," adds White. "Yet, even among the blandishments, there were hints that he was fully aware of the platform he had been gifted to promote his own interests."

Rooney was eager to stress the value of competition for places and also to reinforce the value of experience.

He also displayed a sense of humour and Giles Smith of The Times says he deserved his place in the ITV team.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"92838","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

He "got the audience entirely onside with a self-deprecating anecdote about his son asking him to get an England kit with Jamie Vardy's name on the back", notes the journalist. He also joked that the late Johan Cruyff was at least partly responsible for his lack of European Cup winner's medals, thanks to his influence at Barcelona.

The Dutch team may have done Rooney's international future a world of good by scoring twice in the second half, but "if he took any pleasure in this all new, brakes-off, Wazza-eclipsing England looking a bit stiff and losing, he manfully defeated the urge to show it", says Smith. "Solid enough stuff from the captain, then."

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