Rooney’s Back

It was reported just before the international week that England manager Fabio Capello wanted to make Wayne Rooney the goal machine they hoped could fire them to the world cup. Rooney, after a prolific start to his international career has found goals harder to come by in the last few years. That all changed this week with Rooney firing in four goals in two games. Added to that the goals he has scored for Manchester United in the last three club games the forward is on a prolific run.

Rooney has tended to get his club goals in bursts, followed by a dry spell, and then another burst. However his international goals have not really coincided with any club bursts. That all changed this week with the ease he is now finding the net.

Sir Alex stated that Rooney has sacrificed himself for the team for much of his career, being played out of position, doing a lot of tracking back, and not getting the chances that a true forward needs. What Rooney showed this week, and in the last couple of weeks counting his United goals, is that he is a striker and given the chance to score he will take it. Whereas he has tended to be the player doing the dirty work and letting someone else take the goal scoring glory, Ronaldo at club level, Rooney showed that if you put him upfront, increase his supply, and he will score.

It is perhaps no coincidence that the reinvention of Rooney as a scoring threat has come with Capello partnering him with Heskey. Heskey has a terrible goal scoring record for his country, but critics look to far into that. You don’t pick Heskey to score you goals – he won’t. You pick him to get your team, and his partner goals. Englands best strike partnership of the last decade has been Owen and Heskey. Heskey spent the last three years out of the international fold and Rooney’s goals dried up. He came back and Rooney can’t stop scoring. What England have missed is not the Rooney isn’t a goal scorer, he is, it’s that he needs the right partner. A big man like Heskey works for England, with the little and large formula that worked with Owen suiting Rooney as well. Not to say that Rooney is only effective in this way, his partnership with Tevez, both small men similar in style, shows that he is not a one trick pony.

England, and Rooney, under Capello are a far different side to any we have seen in the recent past. They have their problems, the Lampard, Gerrard partnership still doesn’t work, they don’t always impress in performance, but they are winning. Four wins from four in the World Cup qualifying is testament to that. There is a belief there that has seldom been seen in England and they may have just found the right man to take them to within a realistic chance of glory at a major tournament.

Rooney and Capello could take England all the way in South Africa in 2010.

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