Wayne Rooney says England have the fear factor again
Last Updated: 30/03/15 11:43am
Wayne Rooney says England are at last starting to strike fear into opponents.
The fear factor was not apparent in Brazil last summer when Roy Hodgson's men became the first England side since 1958 to exit at the group stage of a World Cup and returned home with their lowest ever points tally.
Since then though, England have improved markedly, and they face Italy on Tuesday aiming for their an eighth straight win, having adopted a more aggressive approach - the kind of "streetwise" football Rooney called for after the World Cup.
Italy will be very good on the ball and there will be times when they are able to play out so we have to make sure we pick our moments right and not get picked off.
"The players are so quick and when we lose the ball we want to be aggressive and win it back quickly," the England captain said.
"I am sure you have heard the manager talk about those little 'furies' – that when we lose the ball we have to win it back as quickly as possible.
"There are times when you go and don't get it, but that is where the defence probably doesn't get the credit it deserves because they are pushing in right behind us to close the space off.
"With the players we have got, we have to play like that."
England cannot always employ the same tactics, but Rooney believes they are getting better at judging when to put teams in "uncomfortable positions".
"You don't want to go into games and teams enjoy playing against you," the 29-year-old said.
"You want teams to look at England and think, 'we know we have a tough game, it is going to physically hard against them, we are going to have to defend and we are going to have to be good on the ball to keep the ball'.
"That is what we want teams to feel when they come up against us. Certainly since the World Cup we have done that."
As impressive as England's post-Brazil performances have been, the level of opposition has not been the ideal yardsticks with which to measure success.
Tuesday's match in Italy is therefore an intriguing acid test for Hodgson's men, little over nine months since the Azzurri triumphed 2-1 in their group opener deep in the Amazon.
"Obviously it will be a different game again on Tuesday," Rooney said.
"Italy will be very good on the ball and there will be times when they are able to play out so we have to make sure we pick our moments right and not get picked off.
"There will be times when we go, times when we sit off. It is moving in a good direction. We are learning with every game since the World Cup. We are getting better and there is an excitement back about England.”