Results tagged “Wayne Rooney” from Sunday Sun Blog

Given all the soul searching that has followed England's insipid stalemate with Algeria on Friday, it seems flabbergasting that no-one has pointed out the one area where vast improvement is required to avoid the unthinkable this afternoon: set pieces.

Forget the thus far unsuccessful search for the real Wayne Rooney or the infernal debate over balance in the midfield - if England don't start to deliver more of a threat in dead ball situations they're finished.

Being able to deliver a free-kick or a corner with power and pin-point accuracy has been the thing that has set England apart in recent years. It has contributed roughly a third of all of our goals in major tournaments recently - two out of the six we scored in Germany, three out of six in 2002 and three out of seven in 1998.

Rio Ferdinand's knee ligament injury is a heavy blow for England but lets not kid ourselves, it is not a mortal one for our World Cup hopes.

Despite what the shouty men (and women) of Sky Sports News might be telling you, there is only one player who would KO England's hopes if injured. And you don't need me to tell you his name.

Ferdinand is a wonderful defender capable of balletic poise and elegance on his day. But thanks to a series of crippling injuries, we haven't seen many of them this season. If anything, he has been a bit of liability on the few occasions he did play for Manchester United this term and against Japan on Sunday he looked clumsy as he groped for form, clearly still suffering for a lack of games this season.

So the verdict is in. And my over-riding worry perusing Fabio Capello's 23-man squad is that English football hasn't really moved on one jot in the last four years.

Sure, there is surprise at Theo Walcott's slightly harsh omission. But the rest? Steven Gerrard, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard... the only difference from the first XI that represented us in Germany in 2006 is that David Beckham is missing. Considering the former provided or scored 95% of England's goals in that pitiful effort, that is probably no good thing.

I don't blame Capello for going back to the tried and trusted names. They have experience in major international tournaments and most play regularly in the Champions League - a standard of football which is a couple of notches higher than the fare on offer this summer.

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