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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London

Here in the UK, we’re all still stuck in the mire of what has inevitably been dubbed ‘BridgeGate’. You might think that weeks of press speculation, pages of gossip, one sacking, one resignation and one very publicly snubbed handshake would be enough to satiate the English love for scandal, but apparently not. Wayne Rooney stepped up in front of journalists on Monday expecting questions on the forthcoming World Cup and was met instead by a barrage of nonsense and piffle.

For what it’s worth, Rooney thinks that John Terry is, “a great player,” and that he hopes no-one boos him. He thinks that Wayne Bridge is, “a fantastic player,” and that his decision to make himself unavailable for England is, “unfortunate.” He even waded into the swiftly-flowing waters of ShawcrossGate to say that the Stoke defender was, “not that type of player.” Fascinating stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.

It’s all so dull. With just 99 days left until the start of the World Cup, you might think people would have moved on to more important matters. What will the development of Rooney as an out-and-out striker do to Fabio Capello’s Emile Heskey-led formation? Will the Italian consider a return to 4-4-2 with two old-fashioned wingers. Is there is any concern about the paucity of English goalkeepers? Ah, but no. The most pressing issue here is whether or not the paying public will jeer the former England captain. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a football correspondent or a soap opera columnist.


Thanks for asking! Capello likes to deploy a big striker, usually Heskey, up front with three players running in behind him. A quick right-winger, usually Aaron Lennon, opens up a flank, while two creative-types, Steven Gerrard and Rooney, dovetail on the left of centre, picking up Heskey’s knock-downs and working the space. The full-backs push up in support, Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry provide a base camp in the middle and the centre-backs stay deep. But will that work now that Rooney is so comfortable further up in front of goal? With the form that he’s in, it’s a waste to have him cutting in from the left, but to shift him would wreck the balance. Gerrard can’t simply drop to left-wing in a 4-4-2 because he isn’t disciplined enough to provide any defensive protection. You could tell Gerrard to go and change the bulbs in the floodlights, turn your back for a moment and then spot him running in behind the strikers looking for a snapshot on the edge of the box. He’s got the attention span of a Labrador puppy. Capello could put Rooney up front, Gerrard in the centre and then edge Barry out to the left, but you know what that leaves us with, don’t you? Gerrard and Lampard together in the middle. We’ve been here before. Capello’s office must be littered with screwed up diagrams. Still, it’s more interesting than Terry’s lovelife, isn’t it?


David James is in good form, but he doesn’t always inspire confidence in the ranks. Then there’s Rob Green who always looks good in highlight packages, but whose movement can really let him down. Joe Hart is the third choice, but he’s ever so young. You suspect that Capello will go for the experience of James, but it’s impossible to make a conclusive decision. The Portsmouth stopper is only ever one cataclysmic error away from sending everyone back to the drawing board. Where did all the good goalkeepers go?