Sir Alex Ferguson claims the weight of expectation on Wayne Rooney was to blame for the striker's below par performances at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. The Manchester United star failed to score in four matches and looked a shadow of the player who shone for the Premier League side last season as England crashed out in the second round after a 4-1 defeat to Germany.
He says Rooney will emerge better and stronger for the experience and believes the striker will impress at the next FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2014. "I think there was such expectation on him. There was talk he was going to be the player of the tournament," said Ferguson.
"Don't forget, that was the prelude to the whole thing - he was going to be the star, he was going to outshine them all - (Lionel) Messi, (Cristiano) Ronaldo. So that level of expectation comes into it. And he's not got great experience of [playing in] the World Cup really. You wait, in four years' time you'll see a different player."
The Scot admitted he was "baffled" by England's poor form in South Africa. He continued: "That is going to be one of the imponderables - what has really happened and why are they [England] not getting better form. I watched their games and I was baffled by what I saw.
"Expectation was a big thing. They qualified from a group which you'd have to say was a million to one they wouldn't qualify from. So it was an easy passage into the finals. Maybe it would have been better if England had been in a tougher [qualifying] group. They'd have earned the right to be one of the favourites and it would have helped that they'd played good teams before they got there."
Ferguson agrees with those who believe Germany are benefiting from a mid-season break, and admitted the mentality of Joachim Low's team works in their favour. The Germans followed their defeat of England with a 4-0 humbling of Argentina which put them into the last four.
Manchester United were knocked out of last season's UEFA Champions League by a German team - Bayern Munich - and the Scot said: "The history they've got (in Germany) is quite incredible. That organised mentality they have, the belief in themselves, it carries them a long way.
"None of the English teams have any experience of playing in a semi-final at a World Cup. The German mentality is 'we are always in the semi-finals'. Plus the fact they get a month's rest in January - it must help. All the England team are playing in (the Premier League) so they're all affected [by the lack of a winter break]."