Rooney Tunes Up
First of all, the new kit. Why the hell do we need a new kit? Times are hard, cash is strapped but never mind let's get a million schoolboys (and girls) across the country to give their mums a right flippin' earache 'cos their England shirts are 'so last year'.
Fortunately the new design, with some input from Capello apparently, is no problem to fake. Buy your kid an average white collared T-shirt, stick some badges on it and even the savviest fashionista brat might struggle to tell the difference.
Trouble is I quite like the new style. If they could only stop making stuff in a material that I can only describe as InstantHum polyester that'd really help
When you gather (or in the Riverside's case, clump) together on the terraces these days, the scent of man wafts over the seats like a fetid burger van. Fortunately, the odour has been well repressed at the home fans' end at our place 'cos there's been very little reason to raise our arms above the horizontal for weeks now. Besides, as my missus puts it, what's wrong with breathable cotton?
Becks's 109th cap passed by with not too much more than a murmur - great cross for Rooney's first, mind - and his place in the squad looks sealed 'til 2010 now. Alan Green is one of them who can barely suppress his low opinion of Beckham. Me, I'm of the opposite bent.
True, he's two-paced (slow and standing). True, he's an advertising hoarding. True, his trip to LA has been laughable. But the lad has always put in the effort on the pitch, he's the best crosser of a football the British game's seen, and all his managers can testify to his commitment (not least NCO Capello).
I wouldn't bother comparing him to Bobby Moore like some folk seem forced to. Moore lifted the World Cup, played 90 minutes of every game, never got sent off, and was the best central defender we ever had.
Just 'cos Beckham's not quite as legendary doesn't mean he hasn't earned them caps. Capello's no mug and as a late sub, with more space to work in and tired defenders around, Beckham can still do a good and dangerous job.
As John Terry rightly pointed out, Wayne Rooney will probably overtake the clothes-horse on the right as the most-capped England international. Despite the 'crazy man' tag, the national game seems to be back in love with Shrek. Clive Tyldesley summons up Wazza love-songs every time the little welterweight (or 'worth-the-wait' if it were down to Clive) thunders on to the pitch.
Rooney has had his detractors, mind. Probably the same oafs who were roaring their approval when he appeared like a fearless Scouse bear and terrified defences in 2004. It's hard to live up to that. But me, I'm glad Capello has urged him to rein it in a bit. I think there's a lot of all cack talked about Rooney's temper.
First of all, he's miles better than he has been (unless you ask the odd hospitalised corner-flag).
Second of all, there's no reason for anyone to defend the type of gob-smattering toilet-mouthed outburst that Wazza is prone to. Becks and JT have referred to the lad's 'passion'. Clearly in footballer-speak passion = rage. Next time the wife has a pop at us for not being passionate I'll remind her how recently it was that I wagged me finger in her face and bawled me head off at her.
Nah, that's not passion. It's just Wayne losing it. And it's a cartoon rage, is Rooney's. You can see the snarl playing on his lips, the eyes narrowing to pinpricks, the steam coming out his ears and the crown of his cropped head rattling like a pan lid on top of boiling potatoes, as he chases after some full-back who has foolishly just robbed him of possession.
And the point is that when he loses it, he tends to tread on defenders' delicates and then spends the next hour taking it out on the Radox in a lonely bath.
It's garbage to say if you took away Rooney's anger, you'd get half the player. The lad's at his best when he's calm and happy, as he was on Saturday night. Part of being a good pro is to curb the bits of you that don't help yourself or the team (if only Heskey could curb his natural ability to head it over from three yards, eh?).
Capello's done brilliant with Rooney thus far - and he reckons Wazza can play anywhere. Well anywhere except left back, if I remember rightly. Just keep him away from there.
The team looked pretty comfy, though. I'm still not sure whether Gerrard on the left is the way forward. He roams around and when the opposition break Cashley's left looking like a lion cub in a wildebeest stampede. But Johnson looks good at right-back and Lennon should start again if he can just measure his crosses a bit. While Becks can put the ball on a plate for a forward, Aaron seems to be happy enough if he can land in the same canteen.
Still, he's good to watch with the ball at his feet. There's a fascination in the way he wafts that rather camp right hand of his, like he's not only burning off the defender but doodling a little caricature of the chump on an imaginary sketchpad at the same time. It must be like being nutmegged by Rolf Harris ('Can you tell where it is yet?')
Things are looking good for the Ukraine game. Especially as Capello has said that he won't be looking to use Owen after 20 minutes of footy and there was a straight 'no' for Kevin Davies. Thank the Lord. It's hard to believe now but do you realise that once upon a time John Fashanu actually played for England. Twice. You tell the kids of today that and they'd never believe you.