Sam Allardyce may have kept Wayne Rooney waiting but he insists it was an “easy decision” to keep him on as England captain.
Rooney will continue in the role he has held for the past two years after Allardyce reappointed the Manchester United forward on Monday evening, following his squad’s first get-together at St George’s Park.
Though Allardyce declined to make the announcement at the start of his tenure as manager, that is not to say it was a call he was wrestling with.
“Wayne has been an excellent captain for England and the manner in which he has fulfilled the role made it an easy decision for me to ask him to continue,” said Allardyce, who is preparing for his first game in charge in Slovakia on Sunday.
“Wayne’s record speaks for itself, he is the most senior member of the squad and he is hugely respected by his peers. All of these factors point towards him being the right choice to lead the team.”
The 61-year-old might also have mentioned the lack of obvious alternatives, with Joe Hart and Chris Smalling currently out-of-favour at their clubs, while the likes of Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier and Harry Kane are still making their way with England.
Rooney, who was advised to retire from England duty on Monday by Alan Shearer, might also have been criticised for his lax showing in the defeat to Iceland this summer, but with 115 caps to his name and a national record 53 goals there is nobody else who can match his stature in the set-up.
And, more importantly, Allardyce sees a man who can bear the burden of leadership.
“It’s all about the personality. Can you handle the responsibility of being captain? We’ve seen some fabulous players in cricket who couldn’t handle the captaincy,” he said.
“That’s the last thing you want to do, name a captain and they be so uncomfortable with it their performance is diminished. We’ve seen that in cricket a few times.
“I think he (Rooney) has enjoyed the responsibility. Some players don’t want that responsibility.
“It’s a big responsibility at club level and even more so at international level: first and foremost lead by example.”
Dele Alli frustrations?
One player who might find frustration as a result of Rooney’s retention is Tottenham’s Dele Alli.
The 20-year-old is one of the country’s brightest emerging talents and started three games out of four in the Euros, playing alongside Rooney in a midfield three.
But his favourite position is in the hole behind the striker, the very role Rooney has been enjoying under Jose Mourinho at United.
Presuming Rooney starts, Alli would have to make do with substitute appearances or a more withdrawn position.
“Wayne is playing behind the front man at Manchester United…Dele Alli has started well too, so that makes it a difficult choice,” mused Allardyce.
“We’ll wait and see, but we are looking at balance of positions. We want to have two players in each position and not leave ourselves short. Hopefully we make that selection after this (training camp) and we know the best XI to start with.”