Who to Replace Rooney? Capello's Dilemma After Red Mist

Mike.

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Who to Replace Rooney? Capello's Dilemma After Red Mist

by Paul McKinnon at Tuesday, Oct 11 2011 12:40



Last week saw WhoScored focus our attentions on possible strike partners for Wayne Rooney ahead of the game in Montenegro. Friday’s show of petulance and subsequent red card, however, sparks a shift in our approach to England’s dilemma, with Fabio Capello determined to draw up a masterplan in his star striker’s absence. While England await to hear the length of Rooney’s ban on Thursday, Capello has acted swiftly and admitted Rooney will play no part in next month’s friendly with Spain as he gets to work on a new strategy ahead of next year’s tournament in Poland and the Ukraine:

"I need to find the solution for the first game or two games that Rooney would have played. And then if we find a solution he needs to work to return to the first XI. In my life as a manager I have put a lot of good players on the bench."

Last year’s hammering at the hands of Germany in the last sixteen of the World Cup gave Capello plenty of food for thought. England’s standard 4-4-2 looked out-dated and their ponderous players were swept aside by their opponents’ fluid 4-2-3-1 and to his credit, the Italian has moved with the times, mirroring Joachim Low’s formation in most of the subsequent games.

Rather than go over the same ground that we covered in last week’s article Who to Partner Rooney?: Capello's Issue in Crucial Qualifier, WhoScored will take a look at alternatives to play behind a lone striker for next summer’s European Championships and how that could influence the overall feel of the team. Weighing up the characteristic required for the role, there are, perhaps, three stand-out contenders, with a wild card thrown in for good measure:



Ashley Young
Man United’s new summer signing has an adaptability to his game. Playing wide left in the champions’ 4-4-2, Young has been a sensation so far this season but last year under Gerard Houllier, he fitted seamlessly into the role behind Darren Bent at Aston Villa, as well as starring out wide when called upon. Able to play right across the attacking midfield three, Young’s inclusion in an England starting XI allows Capello plenty of tactical options and he’s proved himself a key member of the squad in the Euro qualifiers, with 3 goals from 7 appearances.

So far this season, he’s produced 2.7 key passes per game- not far off Rooney’s 3- which have returned 5 assists already. Young’s eye for goal is highlighted by 2.3 shots per game and he’s found the net 2 times as a result. Strong in possession (86% pass accuracy) too, he’s averaged 7.60 in WhoScored’s match ratings and his arrival at Old Trafford has also afforded him crucial experience in the Champions League- he scored on his debut in the 3-3 home draw with Basel.

If Theo Walcott stays fit, a move to the middle for Young would allow the likes of Stewart Downing or even Adam Johnson a possible chance in the space vacated wide left.

Steven Gerrard
Perhaps the favourite for the role, if he can prove his fitness. Gerrard has struggled since March with a groin problem and has mustered just 3 sub appearances in all competitions as he continues his lengthy recovery. 19 goals in 89 international appearances highlights his pedigree and it may even be that a fully-fit Gerrard could be first-choice for the role, with Rooney playing as the furthest forward. His success when playing in tandem with Fernando Torres under Rafa Benitez demonstrates just what an on-form Gerrard can produce in the role.

He played just 21 times for Liverpool last season but the stats are still indicative of his capabilities- 4 goals and 5 assists despite being hampered with that groin strain. An average of 2.4 shots and an impressive 2.5 key passes per game highlights the Anfield skipper’s goal and creative threat, though his pass accuracy -80%- is sometimes caused by a tendency to try the spectacular. Nevertheless, a WhoScored rating of 7.48 sums up his consistency in a turbulent season under Roy Hodgson- Gerrard played only briefly under Kenny Dalglish before the aforementioned injury put paid to his campaign.

His attacking sensibilities lend weight to the argument that Gerrard would be wasted and unsuitable in the double pivot- the likes of Scott Parker, Gareth Barry, Jack Wilshere and, if he’s fit, Owen Hargreaves would surely be better qualified. Wide right, Capello is likely to utilise the pace of Theo Walcott, which really leaves Gerrard with a role on the left as his other option. Capello has used him there before with Rooney in the middle, coming inside onto his stronger foot as the two swapped roles with ease.

Jack Wilshere
An ankle injury has sidelined the Arsenal youngster until possibly February, depriving both the Gunners and England of his class. Despite his tender years, the 19 year-old firmly established himself as a permanent fixture in Arsene Wenger’s starting XI last season, sitting alongside Alex Song in the double pivot. Wilshere, however, has an ability and –most importantly- intelligence to play further forward and is thought of by many as the natural successor to Cesc Fabregas’ crown as the Gunners number one playmaker, once fully-fit.

The PFA Young Player of the Year in 2010/11, Wilshere excelled in his breakthrough season at the Emirates and anyone who witnessed his performance in last season’s Champions League game against Barcelona knows he can hold his own in the most exalted of company.

Wilshere managed 36 appearances last term, missing just two league games for the Gunners. Playing from deep, he mustered just 0.8 shots per game, bringing only 1 goal and 3 assists, with the likes of Fabregas and Nasri the chief creators for Arsenal. His ability on the ball is highlighted by 1.7 successful dribbles and 1.7 key passes, and with an 86% pass accuracy, Wilshere is a canny operator who rarely loses the ball in the key central area.

Wilshere may be the favourite to reprise his Arsenal role of last season for England, putting Gareth Barry’s place under threat, with Scott Parker offering more grit and will-to-win in the central midfield area. How he is used this season by Arsene Wenger will be intriguing, though; if Wilshere does, indeed, move further up the pitch once he returns to action, Capello will have lots to think about.

Joe Cole
Even just a couple of months ago, the idea would have been seen as far-fetched but a loan move to Lille has afforded Cole a new lease of life on the continent.

His talent has never been in question- it’s Cole’s consistency and application that has fuelled the doubters’ fire and his move to Liverpool last season proved an unmitigated disaster. At Lille, however, he has established himself wide right in a 4-3-3 and his ball-playing ability has instantly seemed more suited in the less frantic environment of Ligue 1.

Cole’s brief substitute debut for the Ligue 1 champions produced a stunning assist and he has subsequently started every league game, scoring 1 goal and producing 2 assists –only Eden Hazard has managed more (4), with his team unbeaten every time he’s taken to the pitch. Cole has also fired off 1.6 shots per game and produced 1 key pass in addition to 0.6 successful dribbles a match. He’s also proved secure in possession, with an 84% pass accuracy, and has featured in both his side’s Champions League games.

With plenty of game time under his belt, he’s starting to return to the type of performances that saw him heralded as the next big thing at the start of his career at West Ham and if he can continue in the same vein over the rest of the campaign, it may prove premature to write Cole off just yet.

Whether Capello is brave enough to gamble is another matter entirely- he will bow out after the tournament is over and will be hoping to go out with a bang- and the selection of Cole may be seen as just a punt too far.
 

DMF

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I also did an article on this.. Read this one just after I published mine. Decent, but I feel they've left a lot of options out.
 

GodCubed

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Lolol. Young 'fitted seamlessly' in behind Bent, did he?

Obvious we need to play Carroll in the hole.

---------- Post added at 07:31 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:30 PM ----------

I also did an article on this.. Read this one just after I published mine. Decent, but I feel they've left a lot of options out.
Sometimes brevity is an article's best friend.
 

Mike.

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Lolol. Young 'fitted seamlessly' in behind Bent, did he?

Obvious we need to play Carroll in the hole.

---------- Post added at 07:31 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:30 PM ----------



Sometimes brevity is an article's best friend.
Everyone fancies Young in the middle, Got to be Gerrard or Wilshere for me
 

DMF

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They could just change formation to a 4-3-3 (Bent, Young, Walcott/Downing) with Gerrard, Parker, Barry/Wilshere/whoever else in the middle.

Or go back to the dreaded 4-4-2 (won't/shouldn't happen but this is Capello).

Or go 4-2-3-1 with Gerrard just off the lone striker with Parker and Barry/Wilshere/whoever else in the double pivot. Welbeck is capable of playing just off the striker IMO (obviously not to Rooney's level but not many are). Also got Wilshere who can do it, Lampard. Not short of options there at all in my opinion.
 

Mike.

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They could just change formation to a 4-3-3 (Bent, Young, Walcott/Downing) with Gerrard, Parker, Barry/Wilshere/whoever else in the middle.

Or go back to the dreaded 4-4-2 (won't/shouldn't happen but this is Capello).

Or go 4-2-3-1 with Gerrard just off the lone striker with Parker and Barry/Wilshere/whoever else in the double pivot. Welbeck is capable of playing just off the striker IMO (obviously not to Rooney's level but not many are). Also got Wilshere who can do it, Lampard. Not short of options there at all in my opinion.

The whole point is to play what suits us and can take us as far as possible.... thats neither the 4-3-3 or 4-4-2.

And no on Welbeck or Lampard, particularly the former.
 

DMF

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The whole point is to play what suits us and can take us as far as possible.... thats neither the 4-3-3 or 4-4-2.

And no on Welbeck or Lampard, particularly the former.
Maybe not in the long term, but for one/two game in the Euro's it should work perfectly well. Without Rooney, there is nobody capable of playing that role in the England team like him and although Gerrard/Wilshere can play there they bring different strong points to the side. Gerrard a dynamic player who likes to drive from deep and score goals. Wilshere the same but not a goalscorer. Those traits surely make the 4-3-3 formation easier to play for a few games, with Gerrard being the link man between midfield and striker with Parker and Wilshere doing the defending and passing out from defence/midfield.
 

Mike.

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Maybe not in the long term, but for one/two game in the Euro's it should work perfectly well. Without Rooney, there is nobody capable of playing that role in the England team like him and although Gerrard/Wilshere can play there they bring different strong points to the side. Gerrard a dynamic player who likes to drive from deep and score goals. Wilshere the same but not a goalscorer. Those traits surely make the 4-3-3 formation easier to play for a few games, with Gerrard being the link man between midfield and striker with Parker and Wilshere doing the defending and passing out from defence/midfield.
Rooneys role is that of a goalscoring playmaker. Gerrard is a Goalscoring playmaker, Wilshere is a playmaker. Gerrard and Wilshere can certainly get close to his game, why suddenly switch to a 4-3-3 when they are perfectly capable in a 4-2-3-1, in fact we know from club form that they both play best in that position. No need to break down the way we play for two games
 

GodCubed

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Maybe not in the long term, but for one/two game in the Euro's it should work perfectly well. Without Rooney, there is nobody capable of playing that role in the England team like him and although Gerrard/Wilshere can play there they bring different strong points to the side. Gerrard a dynamic player who likes to drive from deep and score goals. Wilshere the same but not a goalscorer. Those traits surely make the 4-3-3 formation easier to play for a few games, with Gerrard being the link man between midfield and striker with Parker and Wilshere doing the defending and passing out from defence/midfield.
Gerrard doesn't drive from deep. That's Lampard. Gerrard's better closer to the striker, playing the through-balls and working off the striker. He doesn't have Lampards timing or supreme finishing ability, but he does have a greater awareness of what is happening around him.

Also, the bolded bit is a 4-2-3-1.
 

Joss

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I think leaving Rooney out of the friendlies could go two ways... Either; it works a treat because we learn to play without him as a team and show there's more to us than two or three world-class players surrounded by several players who look like they'd have more fun cleaning a toilet than pulling on an England shirt.

OR... Without Rooney - the tactical lynch-pin of the side - the side doesn't do so well in the friendlies building up to the tournament, and goes to Poland/Ukraine low on confidence and trying too hard to change the system to accommodate Rooney's absence.

Realistically speaking, is Capello actually going to take the smart option and give players like Sturridge, Wilshere, or Gerrard a chance in the hole? Or is he just going to go back to the boring 4-4-2 with Carroll and Defoe up front and Lampard and Gerrard in midfield doing ****** all?

I agree with the principle of dropping him, but it's still a risk. I reckon Gerrard is the best option, though - drop Wilshere back a little since that's where he's been playing for Arsenal and for England.
 

sunilvk7

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Gerrard should play behind Bent. Gerrard was superb in 2008-09 season playing in that position. Once Rooney returns then Gerrard as RW, Rooney in the hole behind Bent or any other striker.

For me Wilshere is one of the most important player and key for England hopes of doing well in Euros. There isn't a better player when it comes to retaining possession in England side, he should play alongside Parker or any other strong DM.
 

Mike.

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I think leaving Rooney out of the friendlies could go two ways... Either; it works a treat because we learn to play without him as a team and show there's more to us than two or three world-class players surrounded by several players who look like they'd have more fun cleaning a toilet than pulling on an England shirt.

OR... Without Rooney - the tactical lynch-pin of the side - the side doesn't do so well in the friendlies building up to the tournament, and goes to Poland/Ukraine low on confidence and trying too hard to change the system to accommodate Rooney's absence.

Realistically speaking, is Capello actually going to take the smart option and give players like Sturridge, Wilshere, or Gerrard a chance in the hole? Or is he just going to go back to the boring 4-4-2 with Carroll and Defoe up front and Lampard and Gerrard in midfield doing ****** all?

I agree with the principle of dropping him, but it's still a risk. I reckon Gerrard is the best option, though - drop Wilshere back a little since that's where he's been playing for Arsenal and for England.
he isnt fully dropping him, just mainly stickin him on the bench. Right idea too
 

sunilvk7

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he isnt fully dropping him, just mainly stickin him on the bench. Right idea too
On bench after he serves his suspension? That would be final nail on the coffin. Its just a red card, people are just over analyzing it. Rooney is one of the very very few English players who can win the game on his own, to drop him just because of one moment of madness will be disaster.
 

Mike.

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On bench after he serves his suspension? That would be final nail on the coffin. Its just a red card, people are just over analyzing it. Rooney is one of the very very few English players who can win the game on his own, to drop him just because of one moment of madness will be disaster.
No during the upcoming friendlies
 

sunilvk7

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No during the upcoming friendlies
Lol, then that would be much better idea.

Parker Wilshere as CMs,

Gerrard in the hole, Johnson, Young as Wingers and Carroll/Bent/Defoe as striker. Would like to see Joe Cole returning to the side.
 

Mike.

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Lol, then that would be much better idea.

Parker Wilshere as CMs,

Gerrard in the hole, Johnson, Young as Wingers and Carroll/Bent/Defoe as striker. Would like to see Joe Cole returning to the side.
Thats how i'd play it, but i'd like to see Sturridge and Cleverley too
 
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