Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney led from the front as England beat Slovenia

Wayne turns in a true skipper’s performance and matches Jimmy Greaves’ international goal tally for good measure

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The Independent Online

It was an absolutely marvellous afternoon for Wayne Rooney. On the special occasion of his 100th cap, he equalled Jimmy Greaves’ 44 England goals with a genuine captain’s performance. I am a great fan of Rooney and I always have been.

He always plays, he always turns up and takes responsibility and he always looks, to me, one of the best players on the field. You cannot do better than that. Sometimes people expect too much from him. But he is always going to fight for you.

And he is an exemplary captain, which is just what this England team needs. You could see that he was making sure his team-mates kept up their standards – even in the latter stages – and did not drop their game.

He is a motivator and an inspiration to the younger players in the side. England have got a lot of young players, and not too many of an age where they are at the top of their game – apart from the defenders – so the midfielders and forwards need the guidance of someone with the experience and quality of their captain, Rooney.

FIRST HALF NOT BAD

The first half was not great but I was never worried about England, even if they were a bit sluggish. What I liked about England in the first half was that they kept it very quiet all the way through, with good defensive concentration.

Slovenia did well to keep England always 20 yards away from their goal, forcing them to shoot from distance, and not allowing them to attack through the middle. England’s passing  was stuttering. Maybe they could have pressed Slovenia higher up the pitch, to win the ball nearer  the opposition penalty area,  but it was a familiar pattern and something that often happens at Wembley.

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Rooney equalises from the penalty spot

SECOND HALF BETTER

Even when Slovenia went 1-0 up, I was never worried, and neither were England. They did not drop their heads, they got straight back into the game, and eventually they tired Slovenia out. You just have to keep working, keep playing and just try to run them down.

And then, towards the end of the game, Slovenia were just not fresh enough anymore to stay with England’s one-twos or their dribbling, as we saw for Danny Welbeck’s excellent second goal, the third for England. In the end, England wore Slovenia down until they could not take any more, and the visitors fell apart in the final 25 minutes.

I don’t think that the tactical change at half time really mattered. When you have Rooney, Welbeck, Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana, they are all going to move about.  In the first half they could not get free, they could not shrug off the close marking of Slovenia. But as the game went on Rooney and Welbeck got better and cut them apart. Welbeck did remarkably well.

SCOTLAND NEXT

The game against Scotland on Tuesday will be really interesting. Scotland have an awful lot going for them now, they are in a good vein of form. They did very well in a difficult game against Ireland on Friday, Steven Naismith and Shaun Maloney were excellent.

I wonder if Scotland worked so hard against Ireland that it might affect them, but they will pull every stop out to win the game. It is one of the great derbies of international football and the atmosphere at Celtic Park will be electric. Roy Hodgson will most likely play Ross Barkley and maybe one or two others.

But I am feeling confident about England now. There has been a great shift forward since the World Cup. They are solid at the back, they are patient and when they smell blood they can go for the throat. They are getting a ruthless streak. Tuesday will be a great game. Both teams will want the bragging rights.

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