Wayne Rooney: How England Can Get Best out of Manchester United Star at Euros
The English team have done what they do best: taken their patriotic fans on a roller-coaster journey in as little as two games.
They've also achieved something no other English team has managed: emerge victorious in a competitive battle with Sweden.
So with four points in the bank already, a draw against co-hosts Ukraine will secure passage to the quarterfinals—the stage Roy Hodgson must reach to be considered a relative success in this tournament.
Hodgson will be gunning for the win, though, as a draw would likely see them go through second and face world champions Spain.
He's done all this without star man Wayne Rooney, who is now available for selection following the end of his two-match ban.
So how will Rooney fit into this England lineup?
What is Rooney's best position? There are three slots in Roy Hodgson's lineup that he can fill and don't doubt he'll walk straight into one of them.
The first is the pure striker role. He could line up alongside Andy Carroll or teammate Danny Welbeck as the front pairing in a 4-4-2.
The space target man Carroll would create could award Rooney plenty of the ball, but Welbeck's club-level understanding with Rooney could see the Manchester United duo take to the field.
He could also play a slightly unorthodox role as a central midfielder, allowing Steven Gerrard to push forward into an advanced playmaker role.
The most likely, and potentially most effective role for him to fulfill, however, is the deep-lying forward that Hodgson tasked Ashley Young with during the warm-up and France games.
Rooney won't have to do much in order to outshine Young in this position, as during the opener against France Young was abysmal.
Given freedom to flit between attack and midfield, Young was asked to mediate between the two lines and help his midfield duo in possession.
However, as the would-be instrumental player in the team, he failed in his tasks. He made just 12 successful passes, having received only 21 in the first place.
Andriy Voronin's performance against Sweden, utilising a similar role Young played against France, is an excellent example of how it can be done.
Voronin played as a deep striker, dropping off Andriy Shevchenko and helping out his midfielders Anatoliy Tymoschuk and Serhiy Nazarenko.
Although he only completed 78 percent of his passes, he made 28 in total and received a large tally of 37 from his colleagues. Ukraine knew were to find him, how useful he'd be and treasured his reprieve.
From the diagram, you can also note he drew five fouls and made one interception high up the pitch. This is the sort of performance Young should have put in.
How Rooney Can Do It
Rooney's game is built around this role and his comfort is a product of the extreme versatility tests Sir Alex Ferguson has subjected him to over the past five years.
He has the tactical nous of a 30-year-old utility player despite being just 26. Playing as the linking striker is a tough job, but he can do it.
He will need to drop deeper than Young did to help Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker in possession. He'll also need to take responsibility of the ball and carry the team up the pitch.
Theo Walcott's performance against Sweden serves as an important example of how a player carrying the ball can drag a team out from a deep position.
Rooney will be relied upon to provide relief, incisive attacking guile and assistance in the passing game.
Lastly, he may be required to drift wide-of-centre to create overloads. For great examples of that, see Wesley Sneijder and Mesut Ozil's respective performances in Germany's 2-1 win over Netherlands.
Rooney is a world-class player who can improve any side in the world with his presence. Certain previous England managers have been guilty of not using him correctly, though, so Hodgson will have to hit it right on the money to unlock his impact potential.
He has the tenacity to get stuck in and provide extra bite in England's midfield, whilst still possessing the technical prowess to grab England a much-needed goal.
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