Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gerrard To lead the attack

Sir Geoff Hurst reckons Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney could be the most effective partnership for England.

Having decided on his final squad yesterday, manager Fabio Capello now has 10 days to decide on his starting XI before England take on the USA in Phokeng on June 12.

For the majority of his time in charge, the Italian has chosen to adopt a 4-4-2 formation with Rooney being partnered by a targetman usually in the shape of either Emile Heskey or Peter Crouch.

Capello has tinkered with his formation at times though by choosing to employ a 4-5-1 formation with an attacking midfielder positioned just behind Manchester United striker Rooney.

Gerrard is familiar with that role having played there all season supporting the Reds talisman Fernando Torres, making him an ideal candidate for the role at international level according to 1966 World Cup hero Hurst.
"I am convinced that 4-5-1 is the formation he should play," he said.

"I think that our best combination up front to compete with the best would be Rooney and Gerrard - they would arguably be the best partnership in world football.

"Wayne has played well on his own up front. If you had asked me two years ago then I would've told you he wouldn't be able to do it. He has had a magnificent season though and for a lot of the games he has played up front alone in that system.

"I think Steven Gerrard's best position is where he plays for Liverpool - just off Fernando Torres.

"He and Wayne already have a tremendous working relationship. I've seen that when they play for England. They haven't played too many games up front together but when they have there have been instances where they have shown a good understanding and together I think they can be a very dangerous pairing, certainly towards the latter part of the tournament."

Fears about Rooney's participation in the tournament were raised when the Manchester United striker picked up ankle and groin injuries towards the end of the Barclays Premier League season.

United's top scorer has also struggled with his form for England recently, failing to find the net in his last six internationals.

That is not a worry to Hurst, however, who believes that the 24 year old can end the tournament as top scorer if he stays fit and gets the support he needs from the rest of the team.

"I'm not worried about his form, not at all," said Hurst.

"Overall he has been fine. He is capable of scoring goals. A good player doesn't lose his form overnight.
"He's up there with the best, then and now. He will perform when it matters and I think in the bigger games we will see what he is capable of producing.

"The last few games have been friendlies and it's hard to get yourself up for these matches. If he stays fit he will be successful.

"He can be top goalscorer if England perform well then he is quite capable of having a run, it depends on the team.

"The strikers get the benefits of the football that the team is playing and the chances that they create. If we do that then he will knock in his fair percentage. I don't know what odds he is but you wouldn't back against him."

Hurst believes that this summer's tournament will be the last shot at World Cup glory for some members of the England squad.

He said: "This is the last chance that England will have to win it for a while because you have key players in there who could be playing their last World Cup - players like John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and maybe Ashley Cole. They will be hard to replace.

"I'm optimistic though. I think that had the team been managed better they could have won it last time. We have a real chance of making at least the semi-finals."

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