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Capello's balancing act

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Phil McNulty | 09:14 UK time, Friday, 27 March 2009

Fabio Capello's light-hearted jibe at "crazy man" Wayne Rooney was undoubtedly laced with enough of a hint of menace to get an unequivocal message across to England's players about the dangers of indiscipline.

And having addressed events arising from Rooney's red card at Fulham - which included an impromptu punch-up with a defenceless corner flag - and Ashley Cole's arrest in London earlier this month on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly, Capello can now focus on the football.

The Italian's mind will be on discipline of different kind, namely tactical, and ensuring England's currently flawless progress towards next summer's World Cup in South Africa gathers further momentum in Saturday's friendly against Slovakia and the qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley on Wednesday.

England's 2-0 defeat against Spain in February acted as both a reality check on the increasing - and mostly justified - optimism surrounding Capello's progress and a lesson in what will be required to win the World Cup.

England can take another giant stride towards South Africa in the next few days - and the Slovakia friendly will prove a vital exercise as Capello puts his plans into place.

Rooney will play such a major part in South Africa, should England get there, that Capello is right to make it his business to know what switches on this brilliant, but hot-headed genius.

If Capello can perform the balancing act of retaining the untamed streak that makes Rooney such a unique talent while at the same time curbing the sort of excesses we saw on his way off at Craven Cottage, he will be doing himself and England a massive service.

Wayne Rooney gets sent off at Fulham

There is undoubtedly huge respect from Rooney for the Italian, so no-one should be in any doubt that it will have been message received and understood. Now Rooney must prove he can act upon it.

Rooney's sending off at Fulham, in my opinion, was harsh. He was not throwing the ball AT referee Phil Dowd. The reaction, however, was unacceptable and hints at the dark side of his nature Rooney seemingly cannot eradicate.

Discipline is a key word in Rooney's England development, and while Capello may have smiled as he delivered his lecture on the foolishness of fighting inanimate wooden objects, this may well have been a case of many a true word spoken in jest.

Capello's use of Rooney in these next two games will be intriguing. Surely it is worth using him on the shoulders of defenders using all his pace and power? This might allow Steven Gerrard to finally find his natural home within the England set-up.

Mention of Gerrard and Frank Lampard's roles within England's set-up invariably see shoulders sag and eyebrows raise in both a quizzical and bored manner. But surely, on the evidence of Gerrard's brilliant link-up with Fernando Torres at Liverpool, this is a problem worth solving?

Lampard, alongside either Gareth Barry or Michael Carrick in central midfield, could be augmented by Gerrard playing in a free role in front of him - but it will also require great discipline from Rooney. If anyone can make this system work, it is Capello.

England's other conundrum, both short and long-term, is the goalkeeping position.

David James remains in prime position to start in South Africa as two of his main rivals, Manchester United's Ben Foster and Manchester City's Joe Hart, are struggling for the regular football Capello traditionally requires from his players.

England's coaching team have been suitably impressed by Foster, his talents underscored in United's Carling Cup final victory over Spurs, to make him an exception to that rule.

But it is almost impossible to see Foster breaking James' stranglehold unless he gets regular games at OId Trafford - making this summer a pivotal one in the career of this naturally-gifted keeper who turns 26 next month.

Ben Foster saves a penalty during the Carling Cup final

James is too long in the tooth to ever inspire total confidence now and West Ham's Robert Green seems destined to spend a career on the margins of international football.

So will Capello's faith in Foster persuade him to break his habit of wanting his men to be playing on a weekly basis or will he persist with James - and his associated risks - all the way to South Africa?

If Foster gets, and takes, his chance, it will provide a testing dilemma for both coach and player, unless Sir Alex Ferguson gets in first and decides he will have a new first-choice keeper at Old Trafford next season.

The other main talking point of the week was Ledley King's England hokey-cokey as first he was in the squad and then out of it in short order.

England's meticulous coach will have been well aware of King's chronic knee injury and the special circumstances of his career, but he was within his rights to call him into his squad and take a look for himself.

And all the soundings are that he is sufficiently impressed with King and his reading of the game, a style Capello sees in Italy's top defenders, that he will call on him again. He is correct to do so if he feels the occasion demands it.

Capello learned valuable lessons about his England side in the loss to Spain, namely in the difference in possession between the two sides and received timely dig in the ribs about the current level of his squad.

England, having learned those lessons, can experiment against Slovakia before putting them into practice against Ukraine - knowing a victory will make it five wins out of five and see next summer's World Cup come even more sharply into focus.


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  • Comment number 1.

    There are clubs other than Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea

  • Comment number 2.

    'Rooney's sending off at Fulham, in my opinion, was harsh.'


    I'm sorry Mr McNulty, but I cannot believe you have said that.
    The aggressive manner in which he threw the ball when already on a yellow card was petulant and stupid. His behaviour on leaving the field simply compounded this.

  • Comment number 3.

    Phil - I disagree that you need to calm Rooney down. If you were to calm the boy down then surely you would take away the edge that makes him so special. Never have i seen a striker chase back 50-60 yards when he loses the ball in possesion to try and win the ball back. The boy is a genius i believe that his reaction at Fulham was justified as how was throwing the ball a sending off? Now onto England I never understand why 11 English players don't just go out there and play the football that they play every week, Fast, Hard, In Your Face, No Time On The Ball? Similar to when the big four play in the Champions League away from home.

  • Comment number 4.

    And having addressed events arising from Rooney's red card at Fulham - which included an impromptu punch-up with a defenceless corner flag - and Ashley Cole's arrest in London earlier this month on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly, Capello can now focus on the football.

    And Gerrard's arrest and subsequent charging with affray aren't issues?
    Or is this another continuation of the BBC-Liverpool love-in.

  • Comment number 5.

    Lots of people (including Harry Redknapp) questioned Capello calling up King to the squad... making it sound like he was wrong to do so because King, basically, will never be fit enough to be able to play for Engalnd. Instead of questioning Capello/England for calling the player up - surely the issue is that King clearly WANTED to go to the England squad - otherwise (like Carragher, Scholes, Shearer and all the others) he would have just said "no thanks i can't be bothered / i'm not interested. I really admire Ledley King for this - to play for your country is in many peoples minds an honour and King clearly wants to represent England despite his injury problems... following on from this - if he wants to be involved then Capello and England should decide if he is worth a look - if he is - then they only have the option of calling him to the squad to see him....

    I think King and Engalnd should be commended for exploring the option of giving this class player a chance to somehow feature in the England set-up!

    I can see exactly where Redknapp and Spurs are coming from - but Harry is bright enough - and enough of a football man/fan - to acknowledge that playing for England at a world cup would be the pinnacle of Kings (unfortunatley injury prone) career... and he should therefore support King and England to explore this.

  • Comment number 6.

    Dhimmi (post1): this is about England - i.e. the England national team. It just so happens that a couple of the major players in that team, e.g. Rooney and Gerrard, come from Manchester United and Liverpool respectively. Your comment has no constructive value so why air it? It is meaningless.

    Anyway, the goalkeeper argument is a very tricky one, personally I don't think Robert Green will ever make it - Capello is not a biased manager I believe, so obviously he has seen something which leads him to believe that Robert Green is not a candidate for a regular number 1 jersey for England. As for the Foster question, I do wonder what Alex Ferguson has up his sleeve. van der Sar only has a season or two more left I believe - but will Ferguson allow him to run the course of his career there, or risk losing Foster in his quest for an England berth?

    As for Ledley King, well - it seems he would never manage to be ever-present for a tournament, so it would seem that his future with England is virtually non-existent, after all the key to a defence is stability - every team knows that having changes on a regular basis in defence is usually not a good idea, the central defenders need an understanding between themselves as well as with the full backs and keeper, and if this changes abruptly it leads to confusion and mistakes.

  • Comment number 7.

    Better to hit a inanimate object than to swing a punch at a player or official. Sure he needs to calm down we all know and this year he has in truth not received many cards.

    The season is coming to its close and everyone is desperate to win points. To receive a booking for throwing a ball hastily towards the freekick spot in the dying minutes of a match, surely that can be understood. And to a point i think it has in only a 1 match ban.

    If only Berbatov had Rooney's passion and determination.

  • Comment number 8.

    Finally. A Semblance of common sense from a BBC Sport journalist. Thank you Phil! You have restored my faith in the BBC Sport website, so much so I felt compelled to register on 606!

  • Comment number 9.

    Good article but i desagree with your comments about Lampard. He like Gerrard does not play as a centeral midfielder in Chelsea's side. He plays as part of a 3 which allows him to have the freedom which you dont usually get in the midfield as he does not have to track a man.... this is why i think he is inaffective for England.
    I also think he drifts in and out of games far to much for internation standards. I would much prefer a midfield of Carrick and Barry as there both good players with a good work ethic also and they are actual centeral midfielders what play ther for there club side !

  • Comment number 10.

    Phil, don't you think this player hasn't improved since he first came to the international stage 5 years ago?

    He seems to have lost pace, haven't seen any improvement, at all in his skills, his goal scoring ratio is quite lacklustre and unimproved either, and while many people praise another intangibles, the only thing i can see as a player already in decline at the age of 23, that's without mentioning his pathetic and aggressive behaviour.

    Can you find another example in the world football where a player will be encouraged to be violent not to lose his edge?
    I think this can only happen in England. Cantona was excluded from the French team, and rightly so, for his violent behaviour, and he wasn’t really a big loss to be honest.

    If he is the big hope of England in South Africa, how does he come he is never a contender for the player of the year while some of his teammates they are?
    That's talking about the PL, where he is vastly overrated, is he ever, even remotely, a candidate for the ballon d'or or FIFA player of the year?

    Hope you can explain these contradictions.

    P.S. reading the comments from Busby1991, you have to wonder whether he has ever watched any sort of international football at all. Rooney = Genius?
    your standards of genius must be very low.

  • Comment number 11.

    Inspite of my supreme faith in the appointment of capello and this england squads ability to qulaify for the world cup with relative ease, i still have big concerns about our striking options for the world cup in 2010.

    I don't agree with phil's belief that gerrard and rooney is the answer up front. Rooney has never shown much sign of being able to produce his best football as the main striker and unless they play with alot of displine it's not hard to see both gerrard and rooney dropping far too deep.

    As for the rest, heskey (despite having a soft spot for him as a leicester city fan) can 't keep getting selected when i (sitting in my armchair watching the match on tv) have more chance of scoring than he does. Crouch isn't good enough, carlton cole certainly isn't, neither is defoe etc etc

    Unless someone new comes on the scene (or owen has a miraculous return to form and fitness) the striker position is going to be our downfall at the world cup.

    Really, it so bizarre that england is in this position, i mean when ur a kid everyone plays as a striker, in some games there are 10 strikers and a goalie on the pitch. It's the position that offers the most glory, can't understand why we don't produce any anymore...

  • Comment number 12.

    this talk of gerrard in front of the midfield ignores the way capello has structured his attack up till now. his system plays a big man (heskey) in the middle, to hassle and win headers. then you have a lightning fast winger (walcott/lennon/swp) and a classic number 10 (rooney) in the baggio/bergkamp kind of mould, getting into the hole.
    the reason it is such a good system is that it is almost unplayable! the defense has two options. the first is to defend deep, to deal with the quick winger and make sure heskey's flick-ons don't go in to space in behind. this gives rooney (and gerrard or lampard) acres of space between midfield and defense, which is goal-dust for england. or, you can step up and pressure rooney and the ball - this gives loads of space for the winger to dart in to (and against croatia, led to a hattrick for theo.)
    the only way to play this is to have 2 anchor-men in midfield - one to track rooney, the other any midfielders breaking forward, and the back four sit deep to deal with heskey/walcott. this gives the attacking team time on the ball, and the defending team few options however - all hail cappello and his footballing genius.

  • Comment number 13.


    I think a distinction needs to be made between passion in playing the game and unacceptable reactions to referees decisions.
    Rooneys throwing the ball back warranted a yellow card (it wasnt a straight red) as does kicking the ball away or throwing the ball down at the floor in anger as many players do in response to decisions they are unhappy with.
    In short, Rooney showed a lack of respect as he does in many games, the only difference here being the referee having the bottle to do something about it.
    Tevez has passion and determination, but he doesnt commit sending off worthy tackles when trying to in back possession or consistently verbally abuse referees like Rooney does..

  • Comment number 14.

    If the worst thing Wayne Rooney has done in his life is to tell an official that their decision was not the best, allied to demonstrating the limited ability for pendulum motion of a corner flag, then he's really not too bad a role model for poor working class boys growing up.

    He didn't go to Eton, he wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth and he seems to have made the most of what he was given in life.

    I don't think he's abandoned his parents now he's rich and I've not seen stories of him having had an affair with one of his team-mates' girlfriends/partners/wives either.

    Apparently he's the first to training every morning and the stats show that he delivers what he is paid to do. I'm sure the fact that he's lippy in a respectful manner to his OWN hierarchy is something which endears him to his manager of Man Utd and if part of winning a World Cup is standing your ground and giving as good as you get in a verbal joust with Germans, Italians or Spaniards after a questionable tackle, decision or piece of gamesmanship, then I don't have any problem with that either.

    What I don't want from an England striker next summer is an analytical acceptance of why they are 2-0 down with 15 minutes to go. I want a striker telling his team-mates to pull their 'flaming' fingers out, demanding the ball and belting in an unstoppable shot from 20 yards. And then telling them that if HE can do it, why the 'flaming' hell can't THEY do it too? Because that might be the sort of never-say-die spirit that helps to win tournaments, mightn't it?

    And if he had that kind of spirit in THAT kind of situation, maybe he'd have sufficient spirit at the START of the game so they'd be 2-0 UP with 15 to go, eh?

    Having said all that, my advice to Mr Rooney right now is: 'Mr Capello, I understand what you've said and respect where you're coming from. I want to win the World Cup as much as you do, but my greatest strength is my free spirit, so please let's work together to harness it for the benefit of the team, not to tame it so I become lethargic and depressed, eh?'

    The apostrophe's around the word 'flaming' are required to overcome the profanity censor........

  • Comment number 15.

    Rooney's second booking was totally fair enough. He lost his temper at the ref's decision to make Giggs retake the free kick and expressed his dissent by hurling the ball back in an aggressive manner. You don't have to physically attack a match official to get a yellow card.

    Frankly I think he was pretty lucky not to get disciplined further for his aggressive attitude after he was sent off - if this had happened a year ago when the respect campaign was in fashion there would have been an outcry about it in the media.

    Rooney needs to learn to control his aggression. He turns 24 this year, yet people still seem to see him as a precocious, occasionally wayward teenager. Chances are sooner or later he'll do something really stupid in a really important match - I just hope he's wearing a United shirt when it happens.

  • Comment number 16.

    We will win NOTHING with Wayne Rooney in the side.

    Far from being the Great White Hope of English football, the player has steadily deteriorated in quality AND temperament to the point where he is a liability.

    Never mind that he is surplus to requirements, what with the emergence of Gerrard as the obvious choice for the second striker role and Rooney's inability to score enough goals as a CF. So with a midfield of (take your pick on the right), Lampard and Barry/Hargreaves/Carrick in the middle and Cole on the left, where does that leave Rooney?

    Warming the bench, where he belongs.

  • Comment number 17.

    Post #3 - I was wondering how long it would take for that mantra to crop up. It's as if people think he'll be fed sedatives. If Rooney cannot differentiate between playing with 'fair' passion and agression (i.e. the chasing back you have mentioned) and that passion/agression that sees him placed firmly in the spotlight as he was at Fulham, then many more red cards (harsh or otherwise) will come his way.

    There are plenty of footballers who chase down opponents just as much as Rooney does, but know when not to cross the line.

  • Comment number 18.

    unfortunately rooney and ronaldo's reputation will forever be before them - a fulham player kicks the ball away after the whistle has gone and doesn't even get a talking to, ronaldo protestest and gets a dressing down, rooney throws the balls back to where a the referee demands a free-kick be taken from and he gets a yellow card.

    any other players and i'm sure the referee would have ignored both incidents

    if you are suggesting that rooney plays the lone striker for england, phil, then you either have amnesia from the last 4 years or you are ever the eternal optimist

    similarly, the suggestion that gerrard and lampard can play together in any formation (other than gerrard on the left wing where he is half the player) suggests some 'cross wiring' shall we say

    as such, i do hope i have mis-read the second half of your blog

  • Comment number 19.

    nice picture of Rooney pointing at the referee there. well done.

  • Comment number 20.

    To comment Number 1: Well .... Not Really.

  • Comment number 21.

    Just one small point about the Rooney sending off. I don't think he deserved to go and this is why. Throwing the ball in a tantrum like he did - fair enough, that's a booking, no arguments from me on that one.

    However - his first yellow was NEVER a booking! A slight tug of the Fulham player's shorts - not even his shirt for goodness sake, his shorts - deep inside the Fulham half. I completely fail to see how that's a booking. Surely it's just a case of free-kick, move on, no fuss? I think Rooney was very harshly done by with that booking.

    Of course, in fairness, having received that yellow he was then stupid to do what he did, but still I think he can count himself unfortunate.

  • Comment number 22.


    In nearly 80 years of World Cup history England have managed just one world cup final. And in 40 years of European history England have yet to manage a single final.

    That's a pretty abysmal record.

    It can't just be that each set of players or the manager or the formation is not good enough. Needs a little tweak or whatever.

    It suggests that something deeper than that is at fault; something is fundamentally wrong with the England psyche.

    Be nice to see that addressed at some time....

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm surprised that the in all the furore surrounding the call up of Ledley King and the issues over his fitness have not raised the question is Michael Owen's England career over. I thought the Capello's decision not to select him was mainly motivated by his questionable fitness record? I'm not English so i really don't care either way but it stinks of double standards, especially so as i think Owen would thrive with Steven Gerrard playing in behind him. Maybe he'll stay fit long enough to highlight this next season.

  • Comment number 24.

    England have played well without Gerrard under capello, would it be that crazy to not pick him.

  • Comment number 25.

    Nobody has mentioned that Kings injury is very mysterious. Perhaps Capello just didn't understand it the same way that I don't. So many players have bad knees - they go and get it treated by a specialist in California who uses a golden scalpel no doubt - why does King keep going in this odd, no training, play once a week manner?

  • Comment number 26.

    Dhimmi, in every blog post you come in and bemoan the fact that, in your opinion, every blog is about the "big four" in England. You need to give it a rest. Anyway, this article is about England, not about a club in particular.

  • Comment number 27.

    10. At 10:22am on 27 Mar 2009, angelthejam wrote:

    Phil, don't you think this player hasn't improved since he first came to the international stage 5 years ago?

    He seems to have lost pace, haven't seen any improvement, at all in his skills, his goal scoring ratio is quite lacklustre and unimproved either, and while many people praise another intangibles, the only thing i can see as a player already in decline at the age of 23, that's without mentioning his pathetic and aggressive behaviour.


    Mate you are totally wrong in some of your comments here, an international goal scoring rate of scoring in 40% of your games, while may not be prolific is still pretty decent at the age of 23. His ability to run from deep and take on defenders is exceptional and he creates space for other players ala gerrard, walcott or lampard to run into by pulling 2 or 3 defenders out of poisition. He has an incrediably accurate and hard shot as well as the vision to spot a pass. His assist rate is pretty good also as is his control of the ball, remeber how he plucked it out of the air to set walcott up for his 3rd against croatia?

    I do agree that he does need to stay in control of his temper but he needs to learn to use it more constructivly rather than lose it all together or he wouldn't be as good a player IMO.

    The best thing about Rooney though is the fact he actually wants to be there for england and shows every game his determination to win, I can think of quite a few england regulars who look like they cant be bothered most of the time.

    I'd rather take a hot head with raw talent and a will to win over an over paid primadonna who thinks playing for his country in a friendly is below him.

  • Comment number 28.

    Serious Question Phil, why have you not mentioned Steven Gerrard's arrest if speaking about ill-discipline? You mention Rooney's red card and Ashley Cole's arrest, but almost deliberatly avoid Gerrard's arrest? Is there a reason for this, or indeed a reason why the 606 mods will not let anyone speak of his arrest? This is not a wind up, it is a genuine question and I'd appreciate a reply.

    On footballing matters I really cannot see Rooney as a lone striker, personally I think it's got to be Gerrard or Lampard, but with Gerrards new position behind the striker surely we'll soon be saying Rooney or Gerrard? My personal opinion is that the one thing McLaren got right was playing Gerrard on the Right Flank, I felt that worked well and he racked up quite a few assists from there, and was able to play freely.

  • Comment number 29.

    "We will win NOTHING with Wayne Rooney in the side.

    Far from being the Great White Hope of English football, the player has steadily deteriorated in quality AND temperament to the point where he is a liability."

    utterly, utterly stupid post about a european, world and domestic champion. you, sir, know nothing.

  • Comment number 30.

    Rooney doesn't have an edge, and he's not special. He is an average player with a bad attitude who contributes very little to England.

    Unfortunately he was over hyped at a young age, and has never become the player that the media talked him up to be. As a result, he believes that he is a superstar, and he's developed an arrogance that overshadows any footballing ability he has.

    I wouldn't pick him.

  • Comment number 31.

    Come on, let's not start up about this fantasy story that somehow Rooney is critical to the England team. I remember the Wolrd Cup of 2006. I remember that Wayne Rooney was out injured before the World Cup started... and day after day, there was national mourning in the newspapers and media outlets! What are England to do?? Wayne Ronney is injured! Will he make it back in time to save England's World Cup ambitions?

    The wonder kid! Wayne Rooney!!

    He did make it back from injury (unfortunately) and do we remember the impact he had on the England team? I for one will never forget how he contributed to England's World Cup ambition.

    Having missed the first game against Paraquay, he then featured in the remaining games. Phew! England is saved! (or so the media claimed).

    Wayne Rooney failed to score a single goal... !!! (wow, what a contribution as our star striker!) and then, in the crucial knockout game against Portugal, he got himself sent off in the 62nd minute for his utter stupidity.

    Rooney's only impact on the World Cup was to mess it all up at the crucial moment. Tell me why do we want him in the England team? He is a liability. You can talk him up all you like, but then when it comes to South Africa, what if again - he fails to score, and messes it all up through another of his childish tantrums? (just as we saw only a few days ago)

    Leave him out. He's not worth it.

    ..and frankly, he doesn't deserve to wear the shirt.

  • Comment number 32.

    More defending of Rooney, absolute disgrace. I've heard too many pundits this week claim that it wasn't a sending off offence. No, but it was worth a booking. He has got away with it so many times in the past, and btw, Rio's reacation was just as disgraceful.

  • Comment number 33.

    I don't think it should be a given that James should be number 1. Perhaps giving Foster a chance will inspire James to perform at a higher level instead of being dozey now and then...

    To be honest Rooney HAS calmed his temper down alot this season unlike last year. There have been numerous times when challenges have been made against him and he hasnt responded to them as he would have done last season. I have watched him play for united and given the poor run of form united are in (and results), i think it was merely out of frustration that Rooney had his outburst.

  • Comment number 34.

    Once again, half an hour to moderate comments!

    Phil - as the "big cheese" as you put in your intro, PLEASE can you sort this out. Surely you too are noticing a drop of interaction on these blogs?

    Anyway, I am very bored at work so here goes:

    Unlike David Beckham and a host of other players and pundits (ex-players) I don't buy into this "lose the aggression and you have half the player" nonsense. What Rooney has to do, and what countless other top athletes have done in the past, notably Bjorn Borg, is channel this aggression. I am no Sigmund Freud, or even Frasier Crane, but speak to Rooney about how he felt when he channelled it and smashed in that volley against Newcastle and how he felt when he threw the ball in a show of childish petulance. Probably very different.

    I believe this is how to deal with it - not take it away or let him self combust but to channel this aggression. However, the problem is, I fear, that talking sports psychiatry with a childish, petulant, rude thug who may well be in jail if he wasn't good at kicking a football, may well fall on deaf ears.

  • Comment number 35.

    England, having learned those lessons, can experiment against Slovakia before putting them into practice against Ukraine -

    How have England learnt that lesson yet? They may have recognised there was a lesson but what are they going to do about it? Learn to pass better in a weekend?

    England is same old, same old for me. Sure we look more competent, confident and organised but when players of the level of Stewart Downing get in the side ahead of more threaten players, we still lack the ability to go to the step stage.

  • Comment number 36.

    Why do poeple think Rooney shouldn't channel his aggressive instincts in th right way? He would be so much better if he keeps his temper and lets the red mist disappear. Now here me out......

    It's humand nature that you can get to a certain point and then you are behond reasoning, its had plenty of names in history the Danes/ Saxons used to call it "Blood Lust, Sword Fury", warriors used to get themselves into that mindset by putting themselves into a "frenzy"!!!! This "frenzy" means they don't think just attack, don't know what is going on and cannot hear anything other than their own thoughts....

    But the point is that on a football field you have to channel it in the right way, if it makes you a better player then learn to use it Internally. You are no good to your team if you are sent off. You can be the best player in the world but if you keep ending up sitting in the dressing room for the majority of games, you are no good to anyone.

  • Comment number 37.

    Rooney WILL learn from Mr Capella's words of warning or he will be benched.
    IF England had any other really talented options in Rooney's position he would already be a sub, but we don't.
    Having had a red or two in my days, they usually came from being kicked remorselessly without referee's protection or from being pretty angry at my lot's lack of effort / application or nouse. I am sure Rooney was in the same boat last weekend ( ie second point ).I genuinely feel that if England can qualify and stay free of serious injuries over the next 12 months they have a decent chance of going far in the World Cup, especially when Hargreaves is fit again.
    Unlike Liverpool RED # 16 , I thinks Rooney IS an asset to this team and any other he suits up for.
    Good luck for the upcoming games.

  • Comment number 38.

    As far as England goes it's quite simply, No Rooney = No chance.

    In the last 5 years Rooney's undoubted skill, power and tenacity has become allied to a far greater tactical awareness that comes from playing and winning in a world class team like United.

    Obviously, just like Ferdinand and Beckham before him, Rooney will be scapegoated whenever things go wrong, his every mistake highlighted and his every word analysed. They are Manchester United players, and it goes with the territory.

    Hated. Adored. Never ignored.

  • Comment number 39.

    1) Rooney's sending-off was justified, and only Man U fans are defending him.

    2) Rooney is not a genius.

    3) Why this talk about Man U have to make Foster no.1 next season or lose him?

    Didn't he used to go on loan for whole seasons at a time to gain experience?

    Why can't they just send him out on loan to a Premier League/ Championship club?

  • Comment number 40.

    To me, international football is all about quality of possession and taking your chances, so why not set the team up to reflect this (like Spain do)? A sound base built around defensive midfielders and lots of creative midfielders in front.

    Something like the below team would make the most of our best players and keep the opposition guessing whilst not giving too much away:

    GK - James /Foster/Green
    DL - Cole /Baines
    DC - Terry /Upson
    DC - Ferdinand /Jagielka/Lescott
    DR - Johnson (why is there only 1 DR in the squad and lots of DC's?)
    DMC - Barry /Gerrard
    DMC - Carrick /Beckham
    AML - Rooney /Downing/(J Cole)
    AMC - Lampard /Gerrard/Rooney
    AMR - Gerrard /Beckham/SWP/Lennon
    FC - Heskey /Crouch/Defoe/Cole

    I'd personally go with Heskey up front for the friendly and Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney all running in from deep as well as switching positions as and when, with Barry & Carrick sweeping up.

  • Comment number 41.

    In reference to bobbieflowers - "Crouch isn't good enough, carlton cole certainly isn't, neither is defoe etc etc"

    How do you come to the conclusion that Crouch and Defoe aren't good enough? Both Crouch and Defoe are top class strikers who are both more than capable of performing at international level. I don't understand why people doubt Crouch's ability so frequently when he continues to prove his worth in the premiership.

  • Comment number 42.

    Red Sam - Typical anti-United diarrhea from a petty Pool fan. zzzzzzz When was Gerrard's last great performance for England? Thought i'd ask a Pool fan as they are great at bleating on about history. Anyway, its a shame but not surprising that a Pool fan says something like that about a United player, when the thread is about England. Typical
    angelthejam - Very very very limited point about Rooney not being a genuine contender for awards. Gerrard is a top player but i haven't seen him be a genuine contender for Ballon D'Or or WPOTY, oh so according to your logic, that makes him 'vastly overrated'. Amazing logic(!)

  • Comment number 43.

    'surely the issue is that King clearly WANTED to go to the England squad - otherwise (like Carragher, Scholes, Shearer and all the others) he would have just said "no thanks i can't be bothered / i'm not interested'.

    A bit harsh, Shearer and Scholes both gave England years of loyal service, then retired when into their 30's in order to prolong their club careers. Carragher retired because England messed him about, fair enough that he was behind the likes of Terry and Ferdinand in the pecking order, but to then be overlooked for players who have achieved considerably less (King, Upson, Lescott etc) showed that he was never really in England's plans so why carry on getting the odd call up to sit on the bench. He is a Champions League winner, and he's been the key defender in a team that has had one of the best defensive records in the league for years.

    Re curbing Rooney's aggression, I think it should be curbed if possible, he's a striker not a defender or defensive midfielder, and thus he's at his best when he's on the ball or firing a volley in, overly aggressive tackles and shouting at referees are not the parts of his game we want to keep.

    Furthermore, this is yet another Phil McNulty blog that merely highlights the obvious and tells us what certain managers are like in interviews. Amatuer psychoanalysis of Fabio Capello, or reminding us that England's defeat to Spain was a reality check are not of interest, please make some predictions about the upcoming games or the long-term, or give us some detailed tactical analysis after the games.

  • Comment number 44.

    Since when do you have to throw or kick the ball at the referee for it to be considered "dissent", Phil?
    There are so many occasions when paid journalists and pundits commenting on the game, make inaccurate references to rulings. Not just yourself, Phil, in fact this is the first one I have seen. Two weeks ago, during the Vidic sending off, Paddy Crerand who was co-commentating on the game for MUTV, stated that since Rio Ferdinand was closer to the goal he was the "last man", hence Vidic shouldnt have been sent off. Even a cursory inspection of the rules would have revealed that there is no mention of last man, and it is merely the prevention "of a scoring opportunity" that the referee has to determine.
    Time and again referees are abused and criticised for making "wrong" decisions, while highly paid former footballers, managers and journalists misinform the average fan by not bothering to read the rules.
    Incidentally, on the subject of rules, can you explain why Vidic received only a two match ban for the sending off when it is his third red of the season, one having come in the "world cup" final. Now if that game doesnt count for disciplinary purposes, then what does that tell you about, how much the title counts...

  • Comment number 45.

    at 28 - the importance of being didier

    Totall agree mate, was thinking the exact same thing myself. Any comments that are made against Lord gerrard are deleted, its ridiculous!

  • Comment number 46.

    Here we go, the usual anti-United/England diarrhea

  • Comment number 47.

    Such is the desperation for English football to have an iconic player in the ilk of Pele, Maradona, Zidane etc. etc. we have the absurdity of Wayne Rooney being labelled as a genius.

    Outside of the English media, who actually rates Rooney as a player to warrant such a title?
    It's interesting to note that when a cashed up club comes looking for players, the usual suspects such as Gerrard, Torres, Lampard, Ronaldo etc are often linked but very little mention of Rooney.....tells its own story.

    Since the 60's there are three players who stand out in a generation form these shores (in my opinion) 60's +70's - Best; 70's + 80's - Dalglish, 90's - 2000s - Giggs. If Rooney is a genius, what title for those above?

  • Comment number 48.

    Every time I read McNulty's blog I am completely distracted by his namesake in The Wire - I'm sure this is a superb blog but I can never concentrate!

  • Comment number 49.


    I can't believe that you think that it should be Lampard and AN Other (ie Carrick or Barry)as the central midfield pairing. The last 18 months have proved that England are more effective when Gareth Barry plays in the middle whether it be alongside Gerrard or Lampard. As an experiment then by all means have Gerrard playing behind a lone striker, however changing a system that has been working in the current qualification campaign just does not make sense. This means that either Lampard or Gerrard will have to miss out so that England have a balanced team rather than two players who can't play alongside each other.

  • Comment number 50.

    What exactly has Rooney done for England that makes him so compelling?

  • Comment number 51.

    I think that Rooney is a very good player and he brings a lot to the England team. The stale cliche that if you 'take away his aggression' you take away something from his game is very frustrating though, because the problem is with indiscipline, not aggression.

    There is nothing wrong with controlled aggression during the game that you focus into chasing down the opposition, winning the ball back, and general work rate.

    But when you lose control of that aggression and start stamping on opposition players, throwing the ball away, constantly swearing at the ref, and punching the corner flay your indiscipline is not only unsightly, but it is detrimental to the interests of your team.

    The majority of top players in the world have controlled aggression and will to win, but they don't let that slip over into indiscipline as often as Rooney does, (which is basically whenever his team are losing).

  • Comment number 52.

    It's funny how every fan thinks the BBC is biased against them...

  • Comment number 53.

    "utterly, utterly stupid post about a european, world and domestic champion. you, sir, know nothing."

    Isn't Darren Fletcher a european, world and domestic champion, too?

    You, sir, are out of your depth.

  • Comment number 54.

    There's been a lot of criticism and praise directed at Wayne Rooney in this blog, to an extent rightly so. But what most fail to take into account is England's abject lack of suitable alternatives?

    When a teams first choice goal keeper is David James and the next best hope frustrated by lack of opportunities at the club level, says much about the national setup doesn't it? England are blessed with quality defenders (with the likes of Ferdinand, Terry, Jagielka, Johnson and Lescott) and in the midfield but the lack of options among strikers and keepers is painfully obvious. A team may pass the ball for all that it may care, they may take the ball with regularity off the opposing attack, but to win matches- a. You need to SCORE GOALS and b. you need to SAVE GOALS and unfortunately England are severely challenged in both these aspects. None of the English strikers and keepers (with the exception of ... yes Wayne Rooney) are anywhere near the starting lineups of the top club sides in the world including the top six in the premier league. All the home nations seemed to be blessed with better keepers than good ol' England, even across the pond where football means running down the field with a ball in hand, there are better keepers than those decorating the English setup. World cup?? Can England even win a hypothetical four (or five including Irish) nations tournament??

  • Comment number 55.

    "Messages on our boards are checked by a team of trained moderators."

    Why does this crack (sorry, "trained") team take over an hour to decide if a post has broken any rules? Why does Mr McNulty's blogs in particular need to be subject to such scrutiny? Posts to "Robbo" Gavin Strachan or Chris Jardine appear instantly. I would like to contribute to the pro/anti Rooney debate but by the time my comment appears the debate may well have switched to the goalkeeping worries or the choice of pre-match meal.
    What a mess.

  • Comment number 56.

    #4: "And Gerrard's arrest and subsequent charging with affray aren't issues?
    Or is this another continuation of the BBC-Liverpool love-in."
    That's history already. If you cared to read the news, you'd have learned that charges were dropped.
    And don't worry, if the story was still tepid, Mr. McN would still be threshing at it.

    Agree with #16. THat has long been my view.
    Rooney's no.1 problem is his lack of intelligence. The rest are just a function of this + his obvious talent.

  • Comment number 57.

    It bothers me a bit that Rooney must keep that dark side to be a better player, and that Beckham insists that he wants to play for his beloved England.

    Remember fans international referees are not going to tolerate childish behaviours. England might be kicked out early because of animalistic behaviour by Rooney and the false saviour of England Beckham.

    In previous WCs we have seen England did not produce any trophy with Beckham although he produced free kicks and crosses, other wise he is almost static.

    In my opinion another way of expressing his love for England should be stepping aside to Lennon and others. The clubs Milan, Real Madrid, MU & LA Galaxy at some point have been disrupted. Nice guy BUT NO LONGER USEFUL FOR TROPHIES. I do not see England winning the WC in SA, but one happy Beckham interested in records and appearances. England must be desperate for players.

  • Comment number 58.

    Capello has set his stall out and unequivocally told the players what he expects. When you look at what Wayne Rooney has done for England prior to Capello, he has been more trouble than he has been worth. When he got sent off against Portugal for footing on the guys genitalia, Rooney expected everyone to believe it was an accident? the guy's an idiot. Anyone who saw the Fulham incident and believes that was harsh, equally knows that far less will get you sent off in an international game. Well done Capello, this issue needed addressing and players left in no doubt what is expected from them.

    Wayne Rooney is without doubt a talent England require, but not at any expense. Recently he has been ranting and raving if things are not going his way and as such is a liability. When ever that testosterone fuelled effort is let loose it ends up getting booked, sent off, giving away penalties or free kicks in areas he should have no involvement in. Rooney's value lie in the creative aspects in the opponents half of the field but he has to control the frustration to be able to perform. Some of Rooney's more impressive performances came when he was still guarding his metatarsal injury, where he showed he could use his head and look far more a balanced player for England.

  • Comment number 59.

    What a lot of rubbish

    "Leave him out. He's not worth it.

    ..and frankly, he doesn't deserve to wear the shirt."

    If Rooney isn't the best player in England, I presume you probably think Lampard is a great player with a wide and incisive range of passing. Gerrard has played below his high level in nearly every England game he's been in. Lampard is a midfielder who likes to shoot rather than feed his strikers. The best teams in the world know how to build and play as a team. There is something about English stars that makes them think they have to do it all, like they're still playing on the park.

    Gerrard has to be the top dog in the team so he can do his Roy of the Rovers act.

    Lampard has to be the top dog in the team, shooting when ever he sees a glimpse of net, and no pass to his better placed strikers (and is third only in the "human scum" current footballer ratings to Cole and Barton).

    Rooney may prefer to be the top dog, but he has demonstrated that he's able to be part of the team (see his role in United success last term). He is also the most naturally talented player of the three, with everything the other two have but more.

    The only one of the three who is completely selfish and cannot play with another is Lampard. Gerrard has moved to the wing for the cause, as has Rooney. And when ever they have for England, Lampard has convincingly failed to make it worth while marginalising them. It is HIS presence that weakens the team. With Gerrard and Rooney running at a defense pushed back by Lennon's pace and Heskey's strength, with cover from the likes of Barry and (my preference over Carrick) Beckham, goals galore would doubtless come.

    Lampard has never deserved his place in the team. He sidelined two of the best midfielders England has produced in 10 years in Scholes (who he effectively retired) and Gerrard, and completely negated Rooney's game by playing in the same area of the pitch. And in return has completely failed to inspire. If anyone should be dropped, it is Lampard.

  • Comment number 60.

    1. At 09:03am on 27 Mar 2009, dhimmi wrote:
    There are clubs other than Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea


    i only skimmed through the article but i noticed coments on David James and Ledley King

    Neither of those play for the 'big 4'

    Stop spewing out age old arguments that im sure enter your head before you even open the article

  • Comment number 61.

    Rooney's a tough
    He'll get over it easily
    but its certainly worrying that he's not keeping his cool
    a problem for Capello & England !

  • Comment number 62.

    It seems like a lot of people, really have it in for Rooney because he has failed to singlehandedly win us the world cup yet. I do agree that Rooney has a discipline problem and no one is asking to drug him into a passionless carboard cut-out but just to control his anger. Passion does not necessarily equal violence and swearing, see Zola, Lineker, Zidane (bar the headbutt.) However I still believe Rooney is a great player and you can tell that he'll strike fear into other teams in a way which the likes of Crouch, Defoe and Bent do not.
    Gerrard is also a player similr to Rooney in that he works best as a Second Striker where he is far more efective than in CM (view Liverpool's results in the last two seasons to see how much better he is as a SS than CM.)
    In my opinion what this Englnd team has lacked since the injury of Owen is a really superb out and out striker. Not just that, we've also lacked really quality central midfielders. Lampard and Gerrard are not naturally out and out CM's, they are more valued for their driving attacking qualities rather than intellect, tackling and dribbling. The role of CM needs all of these features in order to operate effectively (with perhaps one dribbler and another more defence orientated.) Where are the English Iniesta and Xavi's? The nasri's? These are the sort of player's we've so badly lacked.

  • Comment number 63.

    For those of you who are saying that Rooney shouldnt be in the England side i would like to know who you would play in Englands front line ahead of him

    Now i'm not saying he should or shouldnt be in the team, to be honest i'm not really that much of an england fan and wont be watching saturday or wednesday's game but i'm interested to know who people think should be in, in Rooney's place.

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.


    Any moderators out there. Comments posted almost 2 hours ago haven't been looked at.

  • Comment number 66.

    The only way to get the best out of Rooney, Lamps and Gerrard, in the same line-up, is to play 5-4-1.

    Rio Right CB
    JT Central CB
    Jags Left CB
    Becks Right WB
    A Cole Left WB

    Carrick DM
    Barry DM
    SteveG AM
    Lamps AM

    Rooney ST

    This team is full of confident ball playing ability (well JT is there to stick his head in where it hurts) but the key is the 2 DM’s, both with controlled creativity - but by playing Carrick and Barry here ... because they both stay put within a 40/50 yard area... avoids the conundrum of who goes up and who stays (one that has been built up with the Gerrard Lampard partnership in a 4-4-2 over the years). This would allow the “almost front 3” to be given free attacking reign without leaving Rooney to look stranded up front on his own (One of the causes of his frustrations, leading to ill tempered outbursts).

    I guess the main prob is it looks vulnerable against an oppo playing 4-4-2 with attacking full-backs

  • Comment number 67.

    To post number 1!

    You clearly didnt read the whole blog. Players from Spurs, West Ham and Pompey are mentioned in Phil's post.

    Why bother saying anything if you will do is moan and make yourself look silly.

  • Comment number 68.

    Tomohitman - quite a few actually rate Rooney outside the English media/England if you actually have the cells to look beyond England, such as Lippi. But i guess you are one of those people who think he is English so he must be overrated. Original thinking(!)

  • Comment number 69.


    Just to add some pressure, by re-enforcing points already made by three of four previous posts, many of us would be very interested to know why you consider the situation with Gerrard any different that that of Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney.

    One feels the BBC would sooner use JT's mum as an example of ill discipline in the England squad, rather than the events and circumstances surrounding Steven Gerrard.

  • Comment number 70.

    In the case of Wayne Rooney, anyone who cannot see he is a class footballer is deluded. Man Utd are never the same time without him, he is the one who drives them forward, consistantly getting on the ball, especially this season where Ronaldo has been under-whelming to say the least. People have such short memories, if he can produce the sort of form he had in Euro 2004 England will come very close to winning the world cup, England need Rooney at his best. In terms of where to play him, I personally would be a fan of a 4-2-3-1 with Rooney, Gerrard and for tomorrow at least aaron lennon playing just off of Heskey, that way they can all rotate and show for the ball and importantly keep it.

    The goalkeeper situation is one that definately needs to be addressed, I cannot believe for the life of me that Chris Kirkland has not been mentioned, he is an outstanding goalkeeper, has put all his injury problems behind him and for me is the best in the country. Foster, and Joe Hart for that matter need to be playing first team football, I don't mind if he goes on loan for a season just because it is a world cup year, either way he needs games, goalkeeping is about reflexes, positioning and anticipation, the last two only come about by playing.

  • Comment number 71.

    RuleBritaniaRule - You could say that about most players that played for England in the last few years. What has Stevie G, Lampard, Cole, SWP, Terry, James, etc, the list is endless!

  • Comment number 72.

    Red_Sam_ThisYearHonest! - That was a lame limited comment, considering Rooney isn't exactly like David May or O'Shea, Rooney did play in actually a lot of games last season, a first choice player, so he must've had a lot of positive input in United's success last season.

  • Comment number 73.

    KingArthuronice - i think they were on their lunch break, hence the delay after 1pm lol

  • Comment number 74.

    Wot Kuyt 'e did,

    That post refers to the affray charge, which has not been dropped.

  • Comment number 75.

    @ 41

    In response to your support of crouch and defoe (i will post this now and it will probably appear about an hour before i go home so if you want to come back at me on it you'll have to be quick!)

    Defoe hasn't proven himself at international level despite numerous opportunities. He doesn't contribute anything if he doesn't score and hes not (or hasn't until now) been clinical enough when chances have been presented to him at international level.

    crouch imo is completely useless in englands starting 11. Rooney can't play with him (and rooney is going to start up front for england, period) as crouch, despite being a target man, hasn't got the pace to lead the line so constantly drops deep to get possession. Imo he gives away far too many fouls at international level (not his fault entirely, the refs are very picky at international) drops too deep (and stifles the play as a result) and is too easy (because of his lack of pace and light weight frame) for international defenders (the good ones, not litchenstien and the like who crouch had some joy against) to defend.

  • Comment number 76.

    Rooney's sending off was harsh was it? I often have doubts about some of your bizarre comments. This one takes the biscuit! One rule for thugs like Rooney and one for others eh? You ought to get a job with Ferguson. He'd love you fella. What a load of tosh.

  • Comment number 77.

    Rooney's poor discipline and attitude would not be such an issue with England supporters if he performed better for the national team.

    The truth of the matter is, he doesn't make much of an impact for his country so why take the risk of selecting a player who is such a liability to the rest of the team?

    I think a lot of his frustration comes from the expectation put upon him matched with his own lack of ability.

  • Comment number 78.

    to all those scousers having a go at rooney, well atleast he is not like a certain jamie carragher"losing with england never hurt as much as losing with england did".Rooney gives his all to your country each time he plays so stop having a go at him.I would be ashamed of myself if i had been english.

  • Comment number 79.

    firstly i must say that i admire ledley king's determination and drive to continue playing football at the highest level. However, to pick him was a wrong decision. Talented yes, but with the inability to play twice in a week, he surely cannot cope with the demands of the world cup. His position in the squad should be given to a younger player who could learn from the experience and thus develop to provide a future for england. The same has to be said with david beckham. How long will this shambles continue? Its a disgrace that he continually gets given a five minute runout just to exceed bobby moore's caps record. Capello was seen to be a fresh start for england, yet we are stuck with david beckham. With no major tournament, and a relatively straight forward qualifying group, younger talented players should have been given the opportunity to progress. Players such as ashley young, gabby agbonlahor, aaron lennon. Who knows, david bentley could still be playing good football had he been given the chance to cement his place when playing at his best last season.

    England also lack a world class striker, and no wayne rooney is not that. All this talk over playing him as a lone striker is a load of rubbish!! He does not have the goal scoring credentials to justify this. That combined with his determination to somehow find trouble is why we cannot build the team around him. I personally would adopt the liverpool formation (and yes i am a liverpool fan, but hear me out) with crouch as the lone striker/target man. Heskey may win more in the air, and bully the defenders more, but crouchs touch and control, his vision and awarness, and his goal scoring ability are far superior. Gerrard playing behind in the free role in which he excells, ashley young or a fit joe cole on the left, with aaron lennon/theo walcott/or even wayne rooney on the right. Carrick and Barry playing the holding roles will provide the solid foundations for the front five to attack freely. This formation does meen dropping frank lampard, but why play a player who subsequently forces others to play out of position, thus compramising the balance of the team. He is however a worthy replacement if gerrard was to suffer an injury.

    Lastly, i feel that ben foster should not be in contention to be first choice goalkeeper. Its clear he is talented, but, having played just 4 games this season and conceding 6 goals, he is hardly showing the credentials to be englands number 1. Yes james is flawed and will always cause the momentary heart stopping moment, but he has to be the first choice simply as we have left it too late for the younger keepers to gain sufficient experience to play in the world cup. Scott Carson was the only one given the chance, but at totally the wrong time and in the wrong game, and now his international career is all but over.

    I have very little faith in the England set-up, and the game against spain highlighted just how far we are from competing against the best. Yes we are top of our group with maximum points, but should it not be what we expect???

  • Comment number 80.

    Lets keep things real. Rooney deserves his place in the England side but he is no genius.
    The real problem is the other sack of spuds who plays alongside him - its always a big guy who is pretty one-dimensional. This robs us of a useful player in the last third where we need him - making passes, finishing moves and linking with other players. What we normally have is a guy who can make a nuisence of himself against the 2nd division national sides but wont have any impact against the best teams.

    England need to give-up on this system.
    We need to play with the ball and make posession and being clever the priority. We shouldnt be interested in flick-ons. That wont win anything. Ever.

  • Comment number 81.


    Just for the record Peter Crouch has the post-war record for most engalnd goals in 1 calender year (2006)

    Cant be that useless at international level me thinks !

  • Comment number 82.

    Is it just me or did Rooney get off lightly when he got sent off in the World Cup for England?
    Beckham received 4 years of hate mail, Rooney is as revered as ever...
    There are certain players that, as good as they are, I would not want to depend on in a World Cup final. David James is obviously at the top of that list, and unfortunately, Rooney is there too...
    However, he is a world class act, and we have no other strikers until someone magically appears. In Rooney we MUST trust!

  • Comment number 83.

    Why can't Man Utd fans accept Rooney's sending off? He was on a yellow, he threw the ball away. That's another yellow. Simple as that.

    I don't think it's that big a deal in the grand scheme of things really. These types of players, Rooneys and Keanes, they need that edge to be great. All players have off days, it's just unfortunate that an off day for an aggressive player means fireworks.I don't see the big deal. Fergie can handle it, Rooney will do his penance and will then get back to the business of being an outstanding player.

  • Comment number 84.

    Re: Lampard & Gerrard. Drop Lampard. He is older, slower, less dynamic. Most pundits choose Gerrard in this debate.

    If you want to make an omelette you have to break a few eggs. Lampard has to go.

  • Comment number 85.


    that may be true but statistics don't tell the whole story. As i mentioned in my previous post, crouch tends to score against the minnows of international football (although he did score against croatia to be fair, although we lost the game so...)

    I would ask everyone who would see crouch playing for england regularly - if he is so good why is heskey (who scores every leap year) keeping him out of the side. If he is effective, why isn't he the first name on every england mangers team sheet. The answer, i think, lies in the points i have made about his limitations in the context of international football.

  • Comment number 86.

    going back to the original points in the blog.
    of course he needs to control himself - in a big match we cannot have players being sent-off - hardly needs to be debated really

    secondly, the other point about him playing alone maybe worth exploring because we dont have a better option

    it would be good to see a midfield which maybe able to hold onto the ball - that would be so good to see England bossing a game for long periods against a top side instead of trying to steal a goal

    the other point to make is that Gerrard is by far the best and most respected player we have - he needs to be the focus

  • Comment number 87.

    Some very unfounded criticism being aimed at Rooney here. His discipline has improved over the years and while his behaviour at Fulham was unfortunate and he deserved to be sent off, his frustration was hardly surprising given the result that day and the previous week. It's clearly part of his personality that he has to work hard to keep in check, but unless he acts like a thug (which slapping a flag really isn't!) he does not deserve to be vilified.

    Can't say I'm that delighted to see the Lampard / Gerrard debate crop up again. I can't help feeling that when there's a big gap between England games we forget the past and convince ourselves they are an effective midfield partnership, which they are not. Quite simply play whichever one is showing superior form at the time, currently Gerrard, end of.

    I agree with a number of the posts here that we have some serious issues with strikers at the moment. Apart from Rooney there is no-one who stands out at international level. I would love to see Owen get back to his best but this continues to look increasingly unlikely. Walcott and Agbonlahor have the pace to give any defence the heebie jeebies but have never exactly been banging them in. Welbeck has shown the potential to be a quality player, hope that continues and we start to see some more out-and-out strikers coming through.

  • Comment number 88.

    Why would people even bother posting things like Rooney isn't a great player, or that he shouldn't really bother turning out for England? Pure comedy - in a I'm laughing at you type of way. What are you doing on a football thread?

    torontored, the Vidic red card in the World Club Cup doesn't count because it is a Fifa competition. similarly, disciplinary points from the Uefa competitions do not count in the Premiership and FA Cup. I realise you live a long way away, but there's no excuse for you repeating this question over and over and over again without ever making the effort to find out.

    red sam, Fletcher is a World Champion that's correct (he came on as a sub). He is also a League Champion, that's correct. He didn't appear in the European Cup final though so you're wrong there. Rooney scored the winner in Tokyo by the way. Always nice to score. Seem to remember Liverpool trying their little hearts out to have the honour of becoming the first ever English Club World Champions. Came up short though. Oh dear. Let's hope it's a pattern eh.

  • Comment number 89.

    As has been pointed out we have a dearth of attacking options. We lack a fit & in form natural striker who can lead the line. It definitely isn't Rooney's strength and actually causes problems if you try to play him there. Why? Well first off if you're leading the line you can't be running back 60yds to try and win the ball because if you get it there's no one at home up front when we counter attack. Secondly if he does maintain his positional disipline and stay up that's when he gets frustrated because he can't influence a game that's getting away from us. Also top international defenders will do their best to wind him up and he won't be able to get away from their attentions by dropping deep. You then have a frustrated and wound up Rooney which is a disaster waiting to happen. I don't claim to have the answers but then I'm not paid £5m a year. It's these kind of conundrums that Capello gets paid to sort out!

  • Comment number 90.

    I assume Phil you must have been softened up by a glass of Fergies famous red wine if you think the yellow card was harsh. The mandatory sending off for two yellow cards is another matter.
    Sending's off are a severe punishment and should only be served up for severe offences. I think the ref should be given the discretion to sin bin players for say 10 or 15 minutes if the two offences are minor rule infringements.

  • Comment number 91.

    Rooeny's uncontrollable behaviour is too big a liability for England. He is quick and able to force and take advantage of defensive mistakes, but he's more likely to be yellow carded or worse, leaving his team mates with more to do. Sadly there is little choice when it comes to competition for his place

    The England tragedy will continue until he aspires to be more like Gary Lineker.

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    The last big performance gerrard put in for england was the last time he played for england against belaraus! he an rooney where are best performers by some distance

  • Comment number 94.

    rooney and heskey should be up front, though c.cole should be given a chance as he could be a good target man to play alongside rooney. gerrard should be attacking mid while hargreaves(when fit) would be holding and sweep up so other players can go forward. walcott should be rw(when fit again) with j.cole on the left. the defence is the normal, and maybe foster in goal, although he is still inexperienced. if foster doesnt work we obviously have a problem with goalkeepers. i also think young should be considered for lw, but hes not on top form and probably issnt ready for england yet, and lennon is another candidate(especially on current form). in the next match i would go with:
    johnson ferdinand terry cole
    beckham gerrard barry lennon
    rooney heskey

    subs: james jagielka lescott carrick lampard swp cole

  • Comment number 95.


    If you need to make an omelette, you need someone to collect,prepare and blend the ingredients, that's why Lampard must stay, and thankfully Capello knows this more than anyone.

  • Comment number 96.

    I wish someone would get the best out of Rooney. He's made virtually no progress in the last 2 or 3 seasons. I expected him to be the best player in the world by now or thereabouts. He's clearly miles short of that.

  • Comment number 97.

    Following on from aka_bluepeter's comment, the governing bodies of football seem to be the slowest of any sport to introduce innovations and review and amend existing nonsensical rules and practices. The whole card system is patently absurd; players being sent off for two petty little offences and games being ruined as competitive contests for fans who have coughed up a large chunk of their wages to watch. I hate to think what Sepp Blatter, for example, receives in wages - whatever it is, it's about time he began to earn it.
    The comment about the England players going out and palying like they do for their clubs - errrm, haven't they been doing that for the last 50 years and what exactly have they won?
    I really don't see how some posters think Rooney is in decline - have you seen some of his performances this season? Furthermore, I can see him dropping back into a midfield role when he gets older and his speed starts to go. He can pass the ball better than most other top midfielders in the league....and I don't support Man U.

  • Comment number 98.

    I think Rooney gets a lot more credit than he deserves just for being young,English and playing for Man u. He cost £30m and hasn't shown any justification for that price tag.
    If you look at the treatment shevchenko received for his form and price tag then Rooney should have been bombed out of the premier league a while ago.
    He's not a £30m player and not good enough to lead the line for England, unfortunately we don't have many alternatives otherwise we wouldn't see him in anengland shirt.
    Owen if fit is a much better player and instead of Rooney somone like Kevin Davies would be a better bet to lead the line and use the other players more effectively.

  • Comment number 99.

    Phil........Still no response to several requests from contributors for an explanation on why A.Cole and Rooney are suitable examples of ill discipline, but Gerrard is not. It's unlike you to hide.

  • Comment number 100.

    Phil, what do you believe are the reasons for Rob Green being 'destined to spend a career on the international sidelines'?

    I honestly can’t see what the guy has to do to be recognised as a candidate for the no.1 shirt. He performs consistently in the premier league for a team that doesn’t have the defensive stability of the top 4. Unlike Foster and Hart, who I think will be great keepers, he plays every single week. James will be too old for South Africa so why is he playing now?

    I am obviously missing something as I seem to be the only one that is surprised by his exclusion from international football. It has only been until the last 3 squads he has even made it into the final 23 with Jokers like Carson ahead of him in the queue!


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