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Rooney central to euro success

FABIO Capello had a revelation at Old Trafford. Like me, he saw Wayne Rooney play a role which nobody had predicted, expected or considered and I'm positive he liked what he saw. I know I did.

In fact, I suspect Fabio got down on his hands and knees when he got home after Wednesday night's Champions League game to thank the stars for handing him a way to turn England into a team that might buck the trend and do well at the Euro 2012 finals.

Rooney's conversion to a playmaker in midfield was a necessity for Alex Ferguson brought about by circumstances and a mistake, but for Capello it could be the key to something remarkable in Poland and the Ukraine next summer.

The circumstances were the retirement of Paul Scholes and the mistake the fact that Ferguson has never got to grips with his midfield, stretching back to his attempt to replace the irreplaceable Roy Keane.

It's not as if he has a blind spot. He has tried to find players for midfield but from Veron all the way through to Anderson, none of them have been a success.


He could see the day coming when Scholes would no longer be an option and I believe his effort to sign Wesley Sneijder was the solution he had in mind.

When that didn't work, he leaned on young Tom Cleverly and when he went down with an injury, he had nothing in reserve.

But now, hiding within his own squad, Ferguson has found the answer to his prayers. Rooney can replace Scholes. He won't be the same but he can do the job.

Of course, this creates a dilemma for Ferguson. If he plays Rooney in midfield for the rest of the season, he will lose the enormous impact he has as an attacking force.

He would have to scratch around to find another option alongside Javier Hernandez but, on balance, I think this would be more manageable within his squad than continuing to play without any creativity in the centre of the pitch.


I'm absolutely convinced that Rooney can be a full-on, run-a-match midfielder doing the kind of things I see the lads at Barcelona do in every game.

He is the only player of his generation in England with the football brain to do it and, I must say, even going back to my day, it is hard to think of anyone who had the necessary range to switch from attack to midfield.

I saw Puskas first-hand, Denis Law and even Kenny Dalglish, but I'm not sure any one of them would have been able to make that transition -- even Dalglish who ghosted between attack and midfield for much of his career.

But Rooney can and with a good run of games under his belt in the role, I'm sure he would prove me right.

If Ferguson made a decision to run with his new arrangement for the foreseeable future, I firmly believe we would see Rooney grow into the position very quickly.

As things stand, if Ferguson continues to lean on players like Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick, Manchester United can carry on the way they have been and still win enough games to stay right in the middle of the title race and even win the Premier League again, there is no doubt about that.

Beating Barcelona or even Manchester City with David Silva pulling the strings is a different matter altogether, however, and to do that, he must find something different.

Even if Rooney played in midfield until the transfer window in January, Ferguson would see a marked improvement in performances.

At that point and if Ferguson has the money available, he will make another effort to sign Sneijder.

Capello, of course, can't buy a player to fill gaps and although Ferguson can look at the move as a temporary option, the England manager should just make up his mind now and pick Rooney in midfield for every friendly in the run-up to Euro 2012.

I believe Capello should bring Rooney to the Euro 2012 finals regardless of his three game suspension, and if England move out of the group phase, he should be parachuted straight into the team no matter how well anyone else has played up to that point.

He is England's most talented footballer and, oddly enough, Capello will find it easier to come up with other options up front than Ferguson.

Mind you, if such a formation did gather momentum and England went on to actually win Euro 2012, Ferguson, as a proud Scotsman, would never be able to forgive himself for showing Capello the way forward.