Wayne Rooney backed by England manager Fabio Capello

07 September 2010 12:39
Paying attention: Rooney listens to Capello ahead of the clash against Switzerland

For a man who follows such astrict moral code, Fabio Capellowas remarkably open-mindedhere last night.

'It's England,' hesaid when asked to respond tothe question of whether he had beensurprised both by the intensity of thespotlight on his players as well as thebehaviour that had been exposed as aresult.

Not least with regard to the indiscretionsof Wayne Rooney.

But, before the Italian could be charged withaccusing English football of being alone in toooften sinking into the gutter, he qualified hisanswer by noting that other countries have had toendure such scandals.

'In France, in Germany, too,' he said, althoughhe did resist the temptation to refer to allegationsconcerning certain France internationals and an under-age prostitute.

It's not exactly 1-0 toEngland, after all.

Capello did, however, see this as a time to recognisethe distinction between a player's privateand professional lives indeed, for him to recognisethat while Rooney's professional life is amanager's concern, his personal life is not.

It could leave him open to an accusation ofdouble standards, not least because he strippedJohn Terry of the England captaincy over an issuethat concerned his private life as well, of course,as the private life of an international team-mate.

But Capello anticipated as much.'He was the captain but he still played all thegames,' he said.

'I never suspended him, never. But he was captain and for this Ichanged the captain.

'Right now Rooney is not thecaptain.'

Leading from the front: Rooney seemed focus during England's training session

Right now, it is important toCapello that Rooney remains anintegral part of the team ahead of agame of immense importance tothe England manager.

It is a gamethat could yet throw his ownprofessional life back into turmoil.This evening's match here inBasle represents England's toughestchallenge of this EuropeanChampionship qualifying campaign.

It is a game against the oneteam to beat Spain at the summer'sWorld Cup and a Swiss team whohave at times proved themselveswell organised under the guidanceof the brilliant Ottmar Hitzfeld.

This has not been a happy place for England. When the nationalteam was here last, in 1981, RonGreenwood had to be talked out ofresigning after a 2-1 defeat.

Accusations: Rooney is alleged to have had sex with prostitute Jennifer Thompson

That is why Capello needs Rooneyto be every bit as good as he wasagainst Bulgaria on Friday night;the player he was prior to sustainingthat injury in Munich lastMarch.

Having had their chat on theplane yesterday morning, whenRooney assured the Italian he wasmentally strong enough to copewith the maelstrom surroundinghis marriage and park it to one sidefor 90 minutes, the bond seemedeven stronger than usual betweenthe two men.

When Capello called the playerstogether at the start of training,Rooney was centre stage with whatlooked like a cleanly shaven head,listening intently; when the shuttleruns started, Rooney was at thefront; when training was over,Rooney stayed out longest topractise his shooting.

And while Rooney was out there,blasting balls into an empty netand, no doubt, letting off somesteam, Capello could be seen at themouth of the tunnel, watching andadmiring his finest player.

Capello knows that when Rooneyperforms, England generallyperform, and at a time when themanager is only one poor resultaway from another avalanche ofcriticism, he cannot afford to havehim performing below par.

Rooneymight be in the dock with his wifefor playing away from home, butCapello needs him to play awayhere in Basle.

'Look,' said Capello.

'You have toseparate, to divide at differentmoments the private life and thejob. You have to be strong to dividethe two. My job is the second part.The other part is his problem.'

He's in: Rooney will start for England despite the controversy over his private life

While Capello said it was part ofhis job to be 'ready' for every suchsituation, he was clearly morecomfortable talking purely aboutfootball.

He spoke of how Rooneyand Jermain Defoe were enjoying a'chemical moment' in the way theyhad clicked as a partnership, andrecognised that Rooney was notalone in being better now than hewas in South Africa.

'None of my players was at thesame standard they are at now,'he said.

Watchful: Steven Gerrard has been keeping a close eye on Rooney

The England manager also saidhe intended to make just onechange to the side that startedagainst Bulgaria; a change forcedby the injury to Michael Dawson.

Judging by training last night, whenPhil Jagielka operated in partnershipwith Gary Cahill, the Boltondefender who made his debut atWembley will start.

If so, the lack of caps between thecentre halves and goalkeeper JoeHart will be rather alarming. ButCapello adores Hart and hedescribed Jagielka as 'the driver ofthe back four the marshall'.

A strong display from Rooneywould nevertheless ease the pressureon his defenders and manager.

Steven Gerrard, growing instature with every appearance asEngland captain, provided words ofreassurance when he said: 'If youhave an issue off the pitch, you haveto park it. But sometimes footballcan be a release from it.

'Once the game's started, you'refocused on what happens on thepitch, not what's going on off it. Iplayed some of my best footballwhen I was going through the courtcase last season.

'I'm sure, once thegame starts, Wayne will be focused. I've been with him today and yesterdayand he's trained normally. Iwas speaking to him at lunch aboutthe game, and he seems ready toplay.

'I'm sure he'll put on a performance.He was one of the majorreasons why we won the game theother night and we're looking formore of the same from him here. I'dstart with him tomorrow night.'

Capello cannot afford to leavehim out.

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Source: Daily_Mail