Rooney: England must improve

2014-09-04 11:41
Wayne Rooney (AFP)

London - Wayne Rooney admits England will have to improve on their lacklustre performance against Norway if they are to avoid a dispiriting start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in Switzerland.

Rooney marked his first game as England's permanent captain with the winning goal as he drove home a 68th minute penalty to seal a 1-0 victory over Norway in Wednesday's friendly.

But that was virtually the Manchester United striker's only memorable contribution to a desultory England display in front of a sullen crowd at half-empty Wembley for the team's return to action after their miserable World Cup campaign.

Given the chance to chase away the World Cup blues, Roy Hodgson's side instead registered only two shots on target against a distinctly average Norway team, with Rooney often guilty of trying too hard to make something out of nothing.

It was an unconvincing dress rehearsal for the Switzerland test and Rooney conceded England will need significant improvements in all departments to avoid a defeat against their only serious Group E rivals in Basel next week.

"Yeah, we have to (step it up). We know Switzerland are a good team," Rooney said.

"We know we have to be better than we were tonight to get a good result against a good team like Switzerland.

"We have four days to prepare. We will work hard to prepare and we'll be ready. Hopefully we can come back with a victory."

- shaky performance -

With Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard now retired after the World Cup, Rooney is England's most senior player and he believes it was essential that Norway were beaten, however shaky the performance, to ensure a young and impressionable squad's already fragile morale wasn't dented any further.

"It was a big game for us coming back after such a disappointment at the World Cup. It was important to get the victory," Rooney said.

"Norway came and made it difficult for us. We played some good stuff in the first half and were unlucky not to get the goal.

"We were sloppy at the start of the second half and we were disappointed with that.

"We had to be patient and keep moving the ball but we had to do it at a high tempo. We said that before the match.

"At times we did that well and at times we could do it better.

"We are happy with the win but we know we can play better. We have to move on."

On a personal note, Rooney was delighted to cap his first game as England's official skipper with a win and the decisive goal.

"Obviously it's a big night to lead the team out. It's a great moment for me, walking out and lining up as the captain," he said.

"But I prepared for the game like it was any other game. I had to stay focused and make sure I was ready. Thankfully it ended with a victory."

England's Jordan Henderson is confident Rooney will make a fine captain and the Liverpool midfielder was impressed with the way he tried to rally the troops when spirits started to flag in the second half.

"All night he was trying to get on the ball and make things happen," Henderson said.

"Even when he wasn't captain he was a leader in the dressing room. He was always talking and helping the younger lads.

"On the pitch as well, if you look at the start of the second half, he sensed we weren't very good and he was trying to lift us and make sure we lifted the tempo, which we did."


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