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Sep 4, 2010

Capello's changes not influenced by critics

Fabio Capello insists he did not change his tactics as a result of media criticism after Wayne Rooney excelled in a deeper role in the 4-0 win over Bulgaria.

Brewin: Capello confounds critics
Capello hails Rooney-Defoe partnership

Capello was widely criticised for sticking with his 4-4-2 formation during England's World Cup campaign, but he asked Rooney to play, in his own words, "just in front of the two central midfielders and from this position to go forward and to be free". After struggling to produce his best form in recent internationals, Rooney played a key role in all four goals at Wembley.

The Italian, though, denied the media had affected his planning for the game.

"I was focused on the game, not the critics," he said in the Independent. "I think the most important thing was to win. When you lose, do you know what happens?" Asked for the answer to his question, he said: "You know. You write enough about when I lose. The most important thing is to win. The other is not so important."

Some also believe Capello erred by failing to select Joe Hart in South Africa, but he refused to be drawn on the subject.

"Now you can speak about this evening," he said. "The past is the past. I'm really happy the players did what I said before the game. The movement, the pressing and they won the ball back really quickly. Four passes by Rooney, three goals by Defoe: they are two fantastic players but I'm pleased with the whole team."

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, speaking in the Sun newspaper, believes the decision to change Rooney's position may have been his best in the job to date.

"Fabio Capello made arguably his best decision of his topsy-turvy time as England boss by giving Roo a totally free rein," he said. "He is able to play that free role to devastating effect, just as Mesut Ozil did so effectively for Germany in the World Cup.

"Capello has acknowledged he needs to play an extra man in midfield against the best teams or England will get overrun - just as they did on occasions in South Africa. If Capello sticks two up front with Defoe, England get outnumbered in the middle of the park.

"I can tell you that Defoe, my striker at Tottenham, is unable to drop deep, so that role falls to Rooney and he demonstrated just how cunning, just how cute he has become when he set up Defoe's second goal against Bulgaria.

"Rooney must have been disappointed with the boos he got in the first half when he made mistakes, but this lad never knows when to give up."

England face what could be their toughest test in the group when they face Switzerland away on Tuesday, and captain Alexander Frei believes the absence of several key players could hurt the visitors.

"England don't have Lampard, Ferdinand and Terry," he said. "All three of them are pillars of world football and England are not as strong without them - and that will help us.

"I am looking forward to playing against England. They are one of the great countries of world football. It is always fantastic to play against them. I love the special atmosphere, the number of fans that follow them and the way they sing their national anthem."

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