Wednesday 21 February 2018

Allardyce leaves Rooney in limbo over captaincy

Sam Allardyce was officially unveiled as England manager at St George’s Park
Sam Allardyce was officially unveiled as England manager at St George’s Park

Jeremy Wilson

Sam Allardyce has left Wayne Rooney in limbo over the England captaincy for at least another month and suggested that he will lose his midfield place unless he is playing in that role for Manchester United.

Rooney, who is England's record scorer and also within sight of Peter Shilton's all-time appearance record, captained England during the last two years under Roy Hodgson but is being offered no guarantees by Allardyce.

"It's a decision that I'll make once I've got my feet under the table," said Allardyce. "I'll wait until I meet the players. I still think Wayne Rooney has a massive place to play in the England side."

Rooney played in a deeper-lying role for England at Euro 2016 but Jose Mourinho has already made it clear that he sees him as a specialist striker for Manchester United.

The emergence of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford and Daniel Sturridge, however, has suddenly made that a competitive position for England, particularly as Allardyce is also an admirer of Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll.


Asked where Rooney would play, Allardyce said: "I think Jose will determine that. If Jose says he is not going to play him in centre midfield and he is playing up front and scoring goals for Manchester United then it would be pointless me bringing him into England and playing him centre midfield.

"He can play that role because he has proved it for Manchester United. But you've got to ask, 'What position do they really want to play in?'."

Despite the uncertainty over Rooney's starting position, there are few obvious alternatives for the captaincy.

The next most senior players in the Euro 2016 squad were Joe Hart, Gary Cahill and James Milner, who are also not certain of their starting places.

Allardyce has less than six weeks until his first competitive match - a World Cup qualifier on September 4 in Slovakia - and decided yesterday against a proposed friendly with Croatia at Wembley three days earlier.

"There is a massive problem at the moment with the England players because they will only just be joining their clubs," said Allardyce. "The first selection will be very difficult in terms of who is fully fit. There is a very small selection of English players now in the Premier League. That is a difficulty. There won't be massive changes."

Allardyce is also still finalising his staff, with Sammy Lee confirmed among the coaches and the Football Association still in talks with Paul Clement, who is back working under Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich following his spell as Derby County manager.

Allardyce expects there to be "many new staff" and is keen to retain psychiatrist Professor Steve Peters, who worked with the England team under Hodgson. Improving the fragile mentality of the players at major international tournaments has been identified as a priority for Allardyce, who repeatedly stressed yesterday that he wanted to make international football "fun".

He also intends to maximise the time spent together by sending players key pointers about their opponents well ahead of the actual matches.

Read more: Sam Allardyce reminds everyone that he learned his trade in Limerick as he is unveiled as England manager

"We can give players information before they arrive through technology," he said. "That means we don't have to make it too monotonous when we are together and we can try and work on the mentality or team spirit.

"I like to be in amongst the banter but at the right time. I want the players to feel comfortable in my presence and I have to earn their respect."

Just as he also derived motivation from setbacks in his career, Allardyce believes that the players should be strengthened rather than scarred by their Euro 2016 experience.

The FA interviewed five candidates for Allardyce's job alongside holding consultations with a range of leading football figures, including Alex Ferguson, Harry Redknapp, Gary Lineker, Glenn Hoddle and Rio Ferdinand.

Allardyce gave a presentation at the home of David Gill, the former Manchester United chief executive, and received a ringing endorsement from Ferguson.


"He said that he's a winner," said Martin Glenn, the FA chief executive.

The FA has also spoken to a selection of current England players, as well as former assistant manager Gary Neville, about what went wrong at Euro 2016 and the appointment of Allardyce. "The players thought they were well prepared," said Glenn.

The FA also intends to accelerate talks with the Premier League over the possibility of a winter break, which is something Allardyce strongly advocates, although the broadcast deal means it could not be introduced before 2020. "There is a consensus that it would be a good thing," said Glenn.

Allardyce also indicated that he would be open to extending his contract should this World Cup campaign be successful. A second ambition is to inspire more English managers.

"The England manager should always be an Englishman," he said.

To that end, Allardyce said that he would be open to allowing other English managers or former players to spend time with him or potentially join his staff. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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