England barely looked like scoring against France on Wednesday night. They may have had a few half-chances but it was hardly the sort of attacking performance that will be expected, nay demanded, from the fans. It’s early days in the Fabio Capello regime with the Italian keen on pursuing a 4-5-1 formation, utilising Wayne Rooney as the front man and Steven Gerrard in a supporting role.
The two didn’t exactly hit it off in the Stade de France, with The Guardian reporting a little bit of frustration coming from the Liverpool captain as he saw the Manchester United striker continually try and come deep to collect the ball. Indeed, Rooney has been culpable of this before at international level, carelessly giving away a penalty against Russia during a Euro 2008 qualifier.
“I think Wayne slightly has to adapt his game as well,” said Gerrard, “because for me to get space in there and for it to work, he has to play a lot higher and stretch the defence. I think that is why myself and Torres are having a lot of joy – because he is so direct and plays high up. With two holding midfielders behind us, the team are a lot more secure when they lose the ball. Wayne will have to adapt, but if anyone can do it it is Wayne.
“I’ve seen him do it with Manchester United. He destroyed us at the weekend [in a 3-0 defeat for Liverpool], with his direct running making it difficult for defenders. I am sure both of us can make it work. We’ve had two games together, four or five training sessions. It is a brand-new setup, not just the manager but the whole coaching side, so it will take time for us to adapt to each other. But I think there are signs of improvement there.”
It’s always been England’s problem that they have several top-class players but an inability to gel them into a world-class team. Will Capello succeed in moving these millionaires out of their club comfort zone by encouraging them to play a different style of football? Only time will tell.