Wayne Rooney: Doing For Country What He Does For Club
Much has been made of the importance of Wayne Rooney to England's success this summer. The need for him to play as a second striker, in the No. 10 role, where he can use his creativity and vision to good effect, is forever being underlined.
However, in what has definetely been his best season, albeit a season that could see United forgo their Premier League crown, Rooney has played more the role of a No. 9, notching up a goal tally that had him odds-on to usurp Ronaldo's feat of two years ago, before injury struck.
Capello and England should take note. Rooney has been exceptional in his close-range finishing, something that he is not idolised for, but has become very good at. Some of the world's best goal scorers, Lionel Messi being a prime example, are not out-and-out strikers.
Rooney may well be able to exude brilliance on occasions when playing in between the lines of attack and midfield, but he is most effective in his new role, as a cultured striker. England should bare this in mind, leave the inspiration to others—Gerrard, Lampard, and Cole—and the speed to Lennon, Johnson, Walcott, and simply tell Rooney to score goals.
The theory could also be to spread to other areas of the pitch. Gerrard's revival this season has come from him dropping deeper, where he can influence the attack at an early stage. Sure, he does not get forward as much, but it means that as a team, Liverpool gets forward more. Let him play as he used to, as Essien does now for club and country.
Allow Joe Cole to join them. His creativity has come to the fore in recent weeks, at just the right time for Chelsea and England too. Lampard is peaking alongside Cole. Out wide, England must go with pace and nimbleness, as all other nations do, in Adem Johnson and a fully fit Aaron Lennon. Johnson remains what many hoped Downing would be, a potential heir to Ryan Giggs, with both youth and fearlessness on his side.
And at the spearhead, Wayne Rooney can do what he has done all season long in the lone role, hit the back of the net, as long as the service is there.
However, even if England is cohesive and intelligent, it may not be enough to stem the flow of riches of Brazil and Spain, the favourites, and the likes of Holland and Argentina, all four of whom have something that England have always lacked....dynamism.
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