Wayne Rooney shined in England’s opening Euro 2016 qualifier last night, leading his team to victory and earning the plaudits of his manager.
The new captain ensured England took a two-nil victory against highly-rated Switzerland in Basel, and Roy Hodgson was clearly delighted with Rooney’s performance.
Danny Welbeck scored both goals in the second half, but his former Manchester United team mate impressed with his contribution to England’s attack.
Hodgson said: “I was very impressed with Wayne. He learned a long time ago that, if you’re going to have a big career as an England player, it comes with criticism and enormous scrutiny.
“He’s been very anxious to show how good he is and anxious to show he can do this job and I’m glad he could marry these things together.
“He’s been doing the absolute maximum to do the best he can, but forwards play with small margins.”
Rooney was integral to the move that brought about England’s 58th minute opener after he, Welbeck and Raheem Sterling broke up the pitch ruthlessly.
Injury to Daniel Sturridge meant Rooney played up front, partnering double-goalscorer Welbeck.
“A few goal chances are missed and you’re criticised. It was nice for Wayne and also for Danny Welbeck, not only with his goals but the work he put in,” added Hodgson.
“Both did a spectacular job with the way they won the ball so far up the field.”
England’s win already puts them in a comfortable position in Group E, with Switzerland away being the toughest fixture in what should be a straightforward qualifying campaign.
Rooney’s men don’t play again until October, when they face part-timers San Marino at home before travelling to Estonia.
Hodgson knows there is a long way to go after his side’s abject World Cup performance though, but he’s confident his players are on the road to recovery.
“I asked a lot of these players, but only because, if it’s going to work in the future, if this group of players is to become any good, we’ve got to do it from the start (of the qualifying campaign),” added Hodgson.
“We had to go from the start as we mean to continue and luckily we got the start which will help us.”
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