Roy Hodgson thinks Wayne Rooney proved in England’s 2-0 win over Switzerland that he is more than capable of combining the roles of captain and deadly frontman.
England began their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a bang on Monday night.
Although Danny Welbeck grabbed the headlines with his brace, Rooney played an important part in the win too, helping set up his former Manchester United team-mate for England’s first goal.
The England captain led by example throughout, tearing around the pitch with a typically tenacious display that left Hodgson delighted.
The England manager was particularly pleased for Rooney given all the criticism his star striker has been subjected to this summer.
“I was very impressed with Wayne. He learned a long time ago that, if you’re going to have a big career as an England player, it comes with criticism and enormous scrutiny,” Hodgson said.
“He’s been very anxious to show how good he is and anxious to show he can do this job and I’m glad he could marry these things together.
“He’s been doing the absolute maximum to do the best he can, but forwards play with small margins.
“A few goal chances are missed and you’re criticised. It was nice for Wayne and also for Danny Welbeck, not only with his goals but the work he put in.
“Both did a spectacular job with the way they won the ball so far up the field.”
Hodgson silenced his own critics with the win over the Swiss, who are England’s only major obstacle to topping Group E.
An inexperienced team containing full debutant Fabian Delph and 20-year-old defender John Stones looked threatening throughout the game at St Jakob-Park, where Hodgson sent England out in a 4-4-2 diamond formation.
Hodgson also picked out Raheem Sterling, Delph and Jack Wilshere for praise after the win.
“Raheem played well and there is more to come from him,” the boss said.
“The same applies to Jack Wilshere. These are our talented players. This is the way forward, we’ve got to back them. I’m pleased we adopted a bold approach.
“The inclusion of Delph could be regarded as a bolder move given he’s inexperienced, but I was very pleased with his performance.
“I asked a lot of these players, but only because, if it’s going to work in the future, if this group of players is to become any good, we’ve got to do it from the start (of the qualifying campaign).
“We had to go from the start as we mean to continue and luckily we got the start which will help us.”
Given that 24 teams will contest Euro 2016, it would take a huge collapse for England to fail to qualify for France, even if they had been defeated in Basle.
But Monday’s win dented the pride of new Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic.
“It’s a good lesson we’ve been taught tonight,” Petkovic said.
“We started nervously and committed costly errors.”