Will Allardyce select either Wayne Rooney or Dele Alli as a number 10 against Slovakia ?
It will be fascinating to see what formation Sam Allardyce goes with when he selects his first England line-up for the match against Slovakia. If the new England manager opts to play a number 10, it is likely to be Wayne Rooney or Dele Alli occupying that role.
Neither player excelled in the summer during England’s ill-fated Euro 2016 bid. Rooney was used in a deeper midfield role, while Alli wasn’t given the chance to shine in his natural role.
However, there is no guarantee that Big Sam will go with a number 10 and he got a bit prickly when asked about Rooney’s likely starting position.
Of the two, Rooney has made the better start to the new domestic season, as clearly indicated in the Oulala infographic below.
However, both players face huge challenges in the season ahead, if they are to secure regular first team football.
José Mourinho is adamant that he will only play Rooney as a number 10 or centre-forward and there has been a clamour for either Henrikh Mikhtaryan or Juan Mata to be deployed in the number 10 role, so that the burgeoning talent of Marcus Rashford can come to the fore. There is also a strong belief, that to get the best out of Paul Pogba, the world’s most expensive player, Manchester United will need to switch to a 4-3-3 formation. It would be difficult to see Rooney fitting into such a system and question marks like these, make it difficult for fantasy managers to include him in their selections.
Rooney will be keen to defy his critics once again before he calls time on a distinguished international career.
It’s a big season for Dele Alli. Mauricio Pochettino’s team pretty much picked itself in 2015/16 but that is no longer the case. The arrival of Vincent Janssen gives the Spurs’ manager another option up front, with Harry Kane already having been used as a ‘10’ behind the Dutch striker. However, it was the deadline day moves that are likely to impact the most, with Kevin Nkoudou and Moussa Sissoko joining the club to strengthen the midfield zone.
Victor Wanyama arrived form Southampton earlier in the summer, while Mousa Dembélé will also be back in action soon, following is prolonged suspension, giving Pochetttino an abundance of midfield options.
Squad rotation looks likely but whether Sissoko, in particular, can establish himself as a first team regular is open to debate. The French midfielder performed admirably at Euro 2016 and certainly has the pace to add a new dimension to Spurs’ play. However, Newcastle United raked in over £60m from the sales of Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum and Andros Townsend, which is some accomplishment when you consider that the trio weren’t good enough to enable the Magpies to preserve their top-flight status.
One thing is clear, though, selecting one of Alli, Christian Eriksen or Érik Lamela in those fantasy teams is suddenly fraught with added risk.
It’s a big season for Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli, as one looks to write more records, while the other looks to fulfill his undoubted potential.