The value of compatible partnerships: Rooney/Heskey; Lampard/Barry; Brown/Ferdinand; Terry/Cole; Walcott/Rooney
It was a pleasure watching England play last night. And it feels great to write that sentence.
Capello picked a side yesterday of compatible partnerships across the pitch which linked together to produce a flowing team performance that simply overwhelmed Croatia on their way to a resounding 4-1 win.
Wayne Rooney said after the match that he couldn't have a better forward partner to play off than Emile Heskey. Michael Owen said the same thing last Autumn when he and Heskey combined to good effect against Russia. The much maligned Heskey now deserves to gain good sentiment from England fans - he may not score many goals but his hard work and proven ability to unsettle defenders is really appreciated by more talented forward partners. In my view Heskey should remain a starter: any player that gets the best out of the explosively-talented Rooney should be an automatic selection in the team.
Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard were a joy to watch yesterday in the way they seamlessly worked off each other in the centre of midfield. Barry now must be a fixture in the team like Marcos Senna is for Spain - he gives excellent balance and stability to the team. I would also prefer Lampard to stay in the team when Steven Gerrard comes back from injury - he is a more 'mature' player in the way he operates on the pitch and I think the degree of calm and composure he brings to the team is preferable to the more frentic play of Gerrard.
I noted yesterday how the defence had three well-grooved partnerships. No one can doubt that Ferdinand and Terry is a superb centre-back combination. Add to this on the right side of defence there is the combo of Brown and Ferdinand which works very well at Man Utd and on the left side of defence is the regular Chelsea combo Terry and Cole. This defence is strong and can get better because across the board there are well-honed partnerships.
Add to these complementary partnerships were the selection of two superb wild-card players on the wings. On the left hand side we had the excellent technical ability and 'football-intelligent' Joe Cole who knows how to score and assist. And then on the right is the 19 year old who has the temperament allied to talent to become a superstar: Theo Walcott. So happy for him to get a hat-trick and I also really liked the way he and Rooney linked-up together - we all may have seen yesterday in Zagreb the start of a massively exciting partnership.
Fabio Capello has shown his ability in his work and team selection for yesterday's match. Now lets keep it going for the next games against Kazakhstan and Belarus.