Capello believes patience will help Rooney shine
Fabio Capello believes patience is the key to Wayne Rooney becoming a truly world class star.
Rooney took man-of-the-match accolades with his two-goal haul in England's 5-1 win over Kazakhstan at Wembley.
It extended a hot streak that has seen the Manchester United man find the net in four successive games and confirmed his status as number one marksman in an England side where Emile Heskey's lack of striking prowess is made up for by an unselfish attitude that gets the most from men around him.
But to get the most from his own immense talent, Rooney needs to be in slightly less of a hurry to find the target.
"Wayne Rooney is in fantastic form at the moment,'' said Capello. "He is scoring a lot of goals, and his movement and pace are excellent. He runs; he comes back to win the ball. He does everything. He is an example to the other players.
"But it is possible for him to be better. I spoke with him when I first became England manager and told him technically he was very good.
"There are no problems with the head or feet. But when he arrives in front of the goal, sometimes he shoots too quickly. He has to be more patient, take things more slowly and understand what is happening around him. Then he will get more goals.''
Rooney is also benefiting from Dimitar Berbatov's arrival at Manchester United.
With Berbatov for club and Heskey for country, Rooney has a continuity of strike partner - in both cases allowing him to operate in the slightly withdrawn role he prefers.
Sir Alex Ferguson feels he is now "being fair'' to the 22-year-old by not switching him about so much - although, as Capello noted when Rooney was introduced as a substitute during the recent home win over Bolton, he is not exclusively used in an orthodox striking role.
"Wayne is an extraordinary player,'' said Capello. "He can play left or right and still scores goals. He got a good one against Bolton when he played on the left wing. Not many people can do that.''
As time passes, Capello's reign can be viewed more as an evolution than revolution.
With the notable exception of Theo Walcott, who has emerged from two years in the wilderness to show why he ended up at the last World Cup, the Italian is working with exactly the same players Steve McClaren had at his disposal during the abysmal Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.
The key difference seems to be one of belief. Time and advice is obviously spent on addressing weaknesses - but also stressing the 'positives'.
We have always known Heskey to be a bulwark. Yet that ability, so much in demand by the likes of Rooney and, temporarily at least, the discarded Michael Owen, has been overlooked as his dire goalscoring record is assessed.
Heskey met with failure in his attempts to register a first international goal since 2003. But Capello just laughed it off.
"Emile is not very lucky,'' smiled the England coach. "The goalkeeper made two incredible saves from him, and on another occasion the ball got stuck under his legs.
"But he is very important to our team. If you see the movement and everything else he did during the game you would understand why.
"Certainly Rooney is better when he plays with him.''
If that assessment is pretty straightforward, less convincing was Capello's argument that Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are an effective midfield partnership.
Against Kazakhstan, it is easy to ditch Gareth Barry as a holding player and still disguise deficiencies. But Barry will surely be needed against stronger opposition in Belarus on Wednesday, whether captain John Terry makes a miraculous recovery from his back injury or not.
England will create a bit of history by opening a World Cup campaign with four straight wins if they are triumphant in Minsk.
They are expected to. But with the Three Lions, life is never quite so straightforward.
Even if injury doubt Alexander Hleb does not play, Capello knows his side must be wary.
"They are not conservative at all,'' he said, dismissing the theory with some exaggerated hand movements. "They move all over, like Arsenal, and pass the ball a lot.
"Belarus are a very dangerous side, and this game will not be easy.'