Allardyce hedges his bets on Rooney remaining as England captain
New England manager says it’s ‘far too early’ to decide on who will be skipper under his reign
Although new England manager Sam Allardyce will take his time before deciding if Wayne Rooney continues as captain, he already has a clearer idea of how he wants the national team to play.
Rooney, England’s all-time leading scorer, led England at the recent European Championship in France, where they lost 2-1 to Iceland in the last 16. The humiliating defeat prompted Roy Hodgson to resign as coach.
Having helped Sunderland avoid relegation from the English Premier League last season the 61-year-old Allardyce quit the club to replace Hodgson, and he held his first news conference on Monday.
Asked if Rooney would be his captain, Allardyce said it was “far too early” to decide. He added that he first needs to meet his players and staff before England’s qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup begins in September.
England looked dispirited and disjointed against Iceland in a new low for the national team and the loss was met with scathing criticism back home. England’s Premier League stars were accused of being pampered and technically deficient at the highest level.
Allardyce, a vastly experienced coach at club level with Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn Rovers and West Ham, has earned a reputation as a shrewd tactician but primarily as a great motivator.
Although he reminded England’s players not to lose sight that playing for their country is as good as it gets, he urged them to relax more.
“I think the bonding of the team is exceptionally important and trying to create a good team spirit [also is],” he said. “And have some fun, the game of football is to be enjoyed and I’ve enjoyed my life in the game for many years.”
At club level, Allardyce’s sides threatened on the counter-attack with creativity mostly restricted to the final third of play, and he hinted that he will adapt England’s tactics with respect to the opposition, rather than imposing a certain playing style.
England’s first World Cup qualifier in group F is away to Slovakia on September 4. They will also face Scotland, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta.