England predictably thrashed San Marino with Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck both scoring twice on Friday, getting their first goals of the season as a result. Both on another day could have bagged a hat-trick, but they will no doubt both go home pleased their performances.
Rooney led out England for the first-time last night and despite England’s performance being lacklustre at times skippered the side well. Shortly after heading wide from close-range he kept his nerve to open the scoring on 35 minutes from the penalty-spot after Welbeck was fouled by San Marino’s keeper Aldo Simoncini
It may have only been against San Marino but it was Rooney’s first goal of the season and he was no doubt glad to have got that monkey off his back. He dropped deep and looked comfortable in the so-called ‘half-half’ role in which he’s playing both as a forward and as an attacking midfielder.
The way he finished his second and England’s third of the night was good to see. More importantly his movement all night showed that his all-round game is getting back to where it was in Rooney’s pomp back in 2009/10 when but for injury who knows what United could have won. And finally yes, he handled the responsibility of being captain as well as he could.
Welbeck, England’s man-of-the-match will be happy with his performance although at times he still looks a bit rusty. His first-touch still lets him down and his passing does let him down as sometimes he will dribble or try and hold onto the ball for a second longer than he needs to and his pass will go astray as a result.
The one thing Welbeck always gives you is is commitment. He doesn’t disappear in games and is always looking to interact in the game, whether that’s by making a run that creates space for a team-mate or looking to receive the ball himself. He doesn’t let a bad miss get to him and he isn’t scared to try something ‘different’ if it’s worth the risk.
His finish for his first of the night was exceptional. In his post-match interview with ITV’s Gabriel Clarke, Welbeck admitted practicing the flick in training and the fact he has the confidence to pull it off in matches when other strikers would just try and tap shots home normally, says a lot for his ability and confidence.
As a complete striker he’s not quite there yet. Both Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Hodgson will know that. However he’s only 21 years old and shouldn’t really be getting into his peak until he’s 26-28, but he has all the tools to become a great forward for both club and country. He just needs to keep on working hard in training.
With experience and more playing-time in big games, he is only going to get better. Then consider the fact that he will probably bulk up a bit as well becoming that bit harder for defenders to deal with and you only have to wonder how good a player he can be 4-5 years down the line. Let's just hope he can improve his finishing from close-range.
By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87