Capello: 'Rooney is playing well, he is having a magic time'

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The Independent Football

If Zagreb belonged to Theo Walcott, then, for Fabio Capello, Wayne Rooney was the main man in Minsk, with the England manager describing the striker's performance as "magic". Rooney himself, after his two goals, showed the belief that is coursing through England by stating that he did not see "any reason why we can't win all the qualifiers now" after four games, four victories and 14 goals. In Group Six England are five points clear.

Capello added of Rooney: "He's a very important player for us and is playing very well at the moment. He is having a magic time. But not only Rooney. [Emile] Heskey and [Steven] Gerrard played very well. This night we played like a team. We suffered some times and Belarus played well and it's not easy against them. But we were compact.

"Tonight I saw one team, which was very important. There is no secret, we have worked to create a group and to create a mentality of confidence.

"It wasn't about one or two players creating something," he added. "It was a team and that was important for us. I think it's a very important victory. Three points. But it's only one step further. This, for me, must be remembered. The next game is in April [at home to Ukraine]."

Capello praised the partnership of Rooney and Heskey – "they know how to play good football together" – but said that he had had to make adjustments to nullify the threat of the Belarusians, with Gerrard's role altered in the second-half. "The movement helped us," he said.

While admitting the Belarusians had been difficult opponents, Rooney added: "We have got that belief to win now. They had a lot of bodies in midfield and it was difficult to get round them, so the manager told us to keep possession and that helped us.

"We are going to games now believing we can win them with a lot of confidence. We have worked really hard to be in the position we are in and now we've got to keep working hard.

"It would be nice to win all the qualifiers. The two most difficult games, in Belarus and Croatia, we have got out of the way and we have managed to come out with maximum points."

The captain, Rio Ferdinand, said that England were now in a "good position" to qualify for the next World Cup. "We want to keep going in the right direction and winning games," he said. "We made sure we were a tight unit and not easy to get through. The one time they got the ball behind us they scored. We are disappointed in that aspect but we managed to score some good goals."

Ferdinand added that he was pleased that Gerrard scored. "Maybe he was a little over-critical of himself," the defender said of Gerrard who has admitted he is under pressure to keep his place in the team. "You can't always be superman for every game you play. He does it a lot for Liverpool and he has done it a couple of times for England. He is his own worst critic because you want to do it all the time for England. Tonight was a step in the right direction, it was a great finish."

Gerrard said: "Playing for England you always have a point to prove. You are fighting for the shirt every game and it's always nice to score and win. A lot of people have been talking about me and Frank Lampard and where I'm going to play all week but as long as I am in this team and we are winning football matches then I'm happy. We have got a couple of friendlies before the next match where we can try different things and by the time the next qualifier comes around I'm sure we'll be even better again."

England managers: Opening records

The last five England managers' opening four competitive games:


Glenn Hoddle 4/3/0/1

Kevin Keegan 4/2/2/0

Sven Goran Eriksson 4/4/0/0

Steve McClaren 4/2/1/1

Fabio Capello 4/4/0/0

* Last night Fabio Capello set a new record, leading England to four opening wins in a World Cup qualifying campaign for the first time.