Wayne Rooney has declared he is happy to operate in a midfield role for England under new manager Sam Allardyce.
The 30-year-old featured in a deeper role during both the latter stages of the 2015/16 season and Euro 2016, before taking up the role of N0.10 under Jose Mourinho.
Rooney, who announced last week that he would retire from international football after the 2018 World Cup in Russia, was reinstated as a deep lying midfielder by Allardyce for England’s 1-0 win over Slovakia and cut a frustrated figure all evening, losing the ball and spraying stray passes on a frequent basis.
However, speaking after the game, Rooney insisted he was happy playing in a deeper midfield role for his national side.
“That’s where Sam wanted me to play, we worked on it through the week,” he said.
“Once the team was announced, a lot of people thought I was going to play higher, but I think it suits me for this team, for the way we play.
“I have no problem playing there and I thought I contributed to the game.
“I put pressure on myself to score goals and I knew it was only a matter of time.
“[The one that hit the post] was a great effort, but it was just unlucky and we kept plugging away.
“Coming anywhere away from home in World Cup qualifiers is going to be tough and I thought we were very disciplined at times. As the game went on, and they were down to 10 men, we did create our chances.”
The question surrounding Rooney’s best position has always sparked animated debate amongst Manchester United and England supporters, and yesterday’s display against Slovakia shed light on the issue once more.
In an interview with Gabriel Clarke prior to England’s visit to Trivana, Allardyce emphatically dismissed the idea of Rooney playing as a midfielder for the national side. And yet, there he was, playing from deep in the 61-year-old’s first game as England manager.
With Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson both acting as holding midfielders, Rooney’s presence in the same area made little sense; his decision to drop deeper, rather than occupying the No.10 role, led to an enormous dissonance between midfield and attack, giving rise to a disjointed, uninspiring display.
The solution: either Rooney changes his way of playing, or England alter their shape to *once again* accommodate the captain.