Fabio Capello applauds Louis van Gaal’s decision to deploy Wayne Rooney in midfield

Talking to John McAuley at the Dubai International Sports Conference, former England manager Fabio Capello has backed Louis van Gaal's decision to drop Wayne Rooney into midfield.
Wayne Rooney (R) celebrates after scoring against Newcastle with team-mate Radamel Falcao during their English Premier League encounter on December 26. Phil Noble/Reuters
Wayne Rooney (R) celebrates after scoring against Newcastle with team-mate Radamel Falcao during their English Premier League encounter on December 26. Phil Noble/Reuters

DUBAI // Fabio Capello, the former England manager, has backed Louis van Gaal’s decision to deploy Wayne Rooney in midfield for Manchester United.

The England captain, typically a striker, has spent the past few matches for his club in a more withdrawn role and lined up against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday again as one of Van Gaal’s two central midfielders.

Rooney excelled in a deeper position in Friday’s fixture against Newcastle United, scoring two goals and assisting the other in United’s 3-1 victory at Old Trafford. He was voted man of the match.

Speaking at the Dubai International Sports Conference at Atlantis, The Palm, Capello said he was not surprised Rooney has adapted so quickly to the new role.

The United skipper was an integral member of Capello’s squad during the Italian’s four-year reign with the England national team between 2008 and 2012, where he often played as the lead striker or in the No 10 position.

At present, Rooney sits second in England’s list of all-time scorers, with 46 goals in 101 matches. He is three short of Sir Bobby Charlton’s record.

“Rooney can play in every position,” Capello said. “He’s a fantastic player, who with me also played just behind the main forward.

“He’s very good there, because he makes runs, has good vision and in every situation he always chooses the best solution – and he scores goals.”

Capello said he believes Rooney, 29, can eventually fill the space in England’s central midfield that was recently vacated by Frank Lampard – the on-loan Manchester City star retired this summer from international football – although the Italian said he preferred the United frontman to influence matches further upfield.

“For me, with a player like Rooney it’s very important that he goes into the area,” said Capello, who is the Russia national team coach. “If he wants to score goals he needs to be there. Yes, when he arrives from deep it’s easy because technically he’s very good; he has a good shot. But if he wants to score more goals he needs to stay in the box.”

Meanwhile, Capello revealed he once recommended Diego Lopez, the AC Milan goalkeeper, to Arsene Wenger, although the Arsenal manager chose not to heed his advice.

In 2011, when England trained at the English Premier League club’s London Colney headquarters, Capello spoke to Wenger about Lopez, whom Capello had managed at Real Madrid.

Wenger instead kept faith with Wojciech Szczesny.

“I spoke with Arsene Wenger and I told him ‘buy Diego Lopez, buy Diego Lopez, because I know him very well and he is really good’,” Capello said. “But it never happened. Wenger said he did not have a problem and that his keeper was good.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 28, 2014 04:00 AM

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