England skipper Wayne Rooney has admitted studying both Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes to help aid his switch from lethargic forward to creative midfielder.
In fairness, Rooney should have moved back into midfield a few years back, but has toiled as a paceless forward over the past seasons. Now though, Roy Hodgson has sensibly switched him to the midfield three, and he’s been good for his country during England’s opening two Euro 2016 fixtures.
“It was always going to happen. I think I said it when I was about 24 that one day I would go back into midfield and that has happened over the last couple of months,” he told ESPN.
“I have played with some of the best midfielders England has produced in Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes and I’m not so naive to play with those players and not notice what they were doing, knowing that one day I would be playing in that position.
“I have watched them when playing with them and training with them and I have tried to take bits from each of them and add my own way of playing.”
Stylistically, Gerrard in his prime was different to what Rooney’s trying to do now as he was physically far superior and would contribute all over the pitch both defensively and offensively. Rooney shares his excellent passing range, but doesn’t have the engine to break into the box consistently, and will instead control tempo from deep – more akin to Gerrard in his last few seasons at Liverpool.
It’s always been easy for Liverpool fans to hate Rooney, as he played for our two biggest rivals, celebrated like an idiot at Anfield and failed to turn up in major tournaments for England.
We reckon he deserves his spot currently though, providing Daniel Sturridge is the first choice centre-forward ahead of him.