Capello will go forwards if he releases Rooney from lone-star role

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The Independent Football

If football reflects society, then these days multi-culturalism is a part of it. Franco Baldini, who is apparently to be styled general manager of the England team, was only stating the obvious when he pointed out: "In England, teams play a very different style to Serie A or La Liga." So the national team will take something from Baldini, Fabio Capello and the rest, and they in turn will take something from English football. The notion of playing with two forwards would be a good start.

That was surely one of the lessons to be learnt from Wednesday's defeat of a poor Swiss team. Although more and more of the weaker Premier League teams tend to string five men across midfield and play with a lone striker, it has never suited England. Sven Goran Eriksson's attempts were not impressive, whether during his brief flirtation with David Beckham as a quarterback or at the World Cup finals against Ecuador and Portugal. In the latter two games, Wayne Rooney was the fall-guy supposed to do all the running in sweltering temperatures.

Just about the only time Steve McClaren tried it, having lost three injured strikers for the game with Croatia at Wembley, the strategy was abandoned hastily at half-time because England were two goals down.

The one success on that otherwise dismal November evening was Peter Crouch, who played valiantly without support in the first half and came alive when Jermain Defoe was thrown in alongside him for the dramatic second period. Defoe earned a penalty and Crouch equalised 10 minutes later with a superb volley. England, at that stage, were back on track for the European Championship finals.

Wednesday confirmed what those who have been around English football longer than Capello and company already knew: Rooney is not suited to a lone role and tends to become dangerously frustrated by it, and Crouch is a better hold-up player, although one who also needs support.

The Liverpool striker confirmed as much afterwards: "When you play a lot of high balls and I'm winning things in the air, you need a runner and Wayne was doing that very well," he said. "He got on the end of a few of my flick-ons and created a few things. I enjoyed playing with him. If we get the chance again, I would love it."

Rooney, of course, can only achieve that alliance if he is in touch with the main striker rather than lurking on the left, where he can easily become stranded from the action. If he happened to be unavailable, Gabriel Agbonlahor could perform the role.

But where does this leave Michael Owen? Sadly, since he lost his half-yard of pace, where he was on Wednesday night: rooted to a padded seat alongside Defoe and reflecting (if not regretting) that neither he nor Capello are in Madrid anymore.

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