London (AFP) – New England manager Sam Allardyce admitted Wayne Rooney has a significant part to play in his plans but refused to give assurances about the player’s future as captain.
Rooney recently expressed a desire to continue as skipper, despite criticism following England’s disastrous campaign at the 2016 European Championship in France.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho last week promised the 30-year-old that he would keep the armband at club level.
But Allardyce, speaking at his first press conference since taking over from Roy Hodgson, did not follow suit.
Instead England’s record goalscorer will have a nervous wait until September when Allardyce will meet his players for the first time ahead of their World Cup qualifier with Slovakia.
“I don’t want to put myself out in the open just yet. It’s a decision that I’ll make once I’ve got my feet under the table,” Allardyce said, when asked if Rooney would retain the captaincy.
“I have got to leave that until we reach all the players and get the coaching staff together and plan for the internationals in September.
“Will I wait until I meet the players? I think so. Put it this way – I still think Wayne Rooney still has a massive place to play in the England side. I don’t think there is any doubt about that.”
Allardyce would not be drawn on whether he thinks Rooney is more suited to a midfield or striking role, and plans to follow Mourinho’s lead on where to deploy the player.
“What’s Rooney’s best position? I’m not saying! I think Jose will determine that,” added Allardyce.
“Because if Jose says he is not going to play him in centre midfield and he is playing up front and scoring goals for Manchester United then it would be pointless me bringing him into England and playing him in centre midfield.”
– ‘Fun’ environment –
Allardyce, 61, acknowledged it is inevitable there will be occasions when he clashes with Premier League managers now he has crossed over into international management.
He said: “The demands on Premier League managers and demand on me as England manager is bound to cause some conflict down the line because the pressures are far greater than ever before.
“I think we suffered more sackings than ever before. So they are bound to want to protect their players and that is what I have to try and overcome with a little bit of give and take, hopefully.”
Allardyce, who signed a two-year contract to manage England, has promised his players that they will work in a “fun” environment while he is in charge.
“We don’t have to make it too monotonous when we are actually together,” he explained.
“My style is very much in terms of man-management having a good relationship with the players. Not being distant. That’s not my style. I like to be in amongst the banter.”
Martin Glenn, the Football Association’s chief executive, claimed that Allardyce was the only candidate that was offered the England job.
And the former Blackburn, Bolton, Newcastle and Sunderland boss received a positive endorsement from legendary Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who was consulted over the appointment.
“The single biggest thing (Ferguson said) was he’s a winner. He’s got the edge. Winners can sometimes be a bit awkward. That was his phrase. He’s a winner,” Glenn said.
Sammy Lee, Allardyce’s former assistant at Bolton Wanderers, will be part of England’s backroom staff while Glenn also confirmed that the FA are holding talks with Bayern Munich assistant coach Paul Clement over a part-time role.
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