5 England managers who made bold calls by dropping big-name players – and where it got them

Steve McClaren, David Beckham

After Wayne Rooney was left out of the latest Three Lions squad by Gareth Southgate, Declan Warrington recalls other significant moves made by former bosses

Even with Wayne Rooney omitted from the latest squad for this week's fixtures against Germany and Lithuania, it would seem premature to assume he will never play for England again.

The Manchester United man arguably remains one of the 23 best English players, and if he was to again play regular football in a competitive league there seems little reason why he wouldn't be recalled.

Regardless, Rooney's decline and plans to retire from the international game after Russia 2018 will pose Gareth Southgate a longer-term question. The 31-year-old will no longer be available for selection after the next major tournament, so should Southgate prepare for his eventual retirement by building a team that excludes him? Or will another 12 months in which he could slip further, while younger alternatives are simultaneously making progress, mean he will no longer have a place in his plans anyway?

Gareth Southgate, Wayne Rooney

Rooney has already said he'll retire after the 2018 World Cup

Whenever it comes to pass, Southgate will almost certainly be the manager who oversees the end of Rooney's international career; given that he's England's record goalscorer and second-highest appearance-maker, the manager's decision surrounding Rooney could prove his biggest in the job.

To that end, FourFourTwo has revisited five other big personnel calls made by Southgate's predecessors...

1. Steve McClaren boots out Becks

I told David I was looking to change things, to go in a different direction, and he wasn't included within that

- Steve McClaren

After succeeding Sven-Goran Eriksson as England boss following the 2006 World Cup, McClaren dropped Beckham altogether for his first match in charge, a friendly with Greece.

The then-31-year-old had already resigned as captain at the end of that tournament, but there was little question he remained a quality player, as he consistently demonstrated when winning La Liga with Real Madrid the following year.

“I told David I was looking to change things, to go in a different direction, and he wasn't included within that,” said McClaren, whose recent sacking at Derby was his second at Pride Park in less than 21 months. 

David Beckham, Steve McClaren

McClaren was presumably aiming to assert his authority by dropping Beckham

He also spoke of his desire for England to play with “pace and penetration”, but quite why he felt Shaun Wright-Phillips was a superior option as a squad player – particularly when Steven Gerrard started McClaren's first games on the right – was anyone's guess.

Observers felt McClaren was attempting to make a statement, which he certainly succeeded in doing, but England's performances and results began to decline after the 4-0 win against Greece, while the manager undermined the authority he'd tried to exert by recalling Beckham just nine months later.

McClaren was sacked in November 2007 after failing to reach Euro 2008; Beckham then remained a regular throughout qualification for the 2010 World Cup, often impressing under Fabio Capello.