Gerrard: Don't blame Rooney for exit
The expectations placed on England striker Wayne Rooney before major tournaments are "unfair" according to national team skipper Steven Gerrard.
Rooney, 26, burst on to the international scene at Euro 2004 when his four goals in four games helped the Three Lions to the quarter-finals before defeat to Portugal.
Since then, though, the Manchester United star has struggled to sparkle at major finals, failing to score at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
He managed to break that duck in his first game of Euro 2012 against Ukraine but was otherwise off-form as England were eliminated by Italy on penalties in the last eight.
Rooney's displays attracted criticism from those who expected him to make an impact when returning to the starting line-up following a two-game suspension, however Gerrard believes his team-mate should not be made the scapegoat for England's exit.
"I just think that ever since Wayne has been around, and because of his performances in Euro 2004, there is an expectation that he comes to these tournaments and wins them all on his own," Gerrard said in The Sun Sunday.
"I just think that's unfair - especially when it goes wrong and people then point to Wayne and his performances and blame him.
"But the responsibility has to be on all 23 players. It's unfair to look at Wayne and say because he didn't play well it's the reason why we haven't won.
"I've mentioned on many occasions that at this level the biggest thing is to play without expectation, without fear. So it's only normal that at times Wayne is brought down because of that expectation, because everyone expects and wants him to do well."