Fabio Capello watched his England side race off to a perfect start in the European Championship qualifiers with a 4-0 victory against Bulgaria and then revealed how he had rejuvenated Wayne Rooney.
The Manchester United striker, who has been struggling for his best form ever since his disappointment at the World Cup, made a vital contribution in all four goals as Jermain Defoe netted a hat-trick and Adam Johnson scored his first for his country.
Capello put it down to the new, freer role he had handed Rooney.
The England manager said: “I played Rooney in a position different than usual. He did very well. I spoke with him before the game.
“He had to stay just in front of the two central midfielders and from this position to go forward and to be free. The quality of Rooney was really high.”
Capello also hailed the finishing of Defoe, whose goals, the first coming after just three minutes, helped heal some of the scars of England’s shambolic World Cup defeat against Germany in South Africa.
Capello said: “Defoe is always very important for us. He can shoot with his left foot and his right and his performance was really, really good and his movement without the ball was fantastic.”
The victory gets England off to a flying start in their group, although one sour note for Capello was an injury to Michael Dawson, who was carried off in the second half with what looked a nasty knee injury which looks certain to keep him out of Tuesday’s match against Switzerland.
Capello said: “I have to wait to find out about Dawson. I am not a doctor. We have to wait for the tests, but no one else had problems, only Dawson.”
Capello also praised the contribution of goalkeeper Joe Hart who made two crucial stops and saved a Glen Johnson attempted clearance on the line.
Capello said: “Hart is playing very, very well. He made two fantastic saves. The most important thing was to win.”
Bulgaria coach Stanimir Stoilov admitted the international retirement of Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov had been a major blow for his side.
Stoilov said: “For Bulgaria it is a big loss not to have Berbatov. He will always be missed and if he had played today it would probably have been a different result. We had our chances and missed them and England scored.
“It’s Berbatov’s decision and we should respect that. England have very fast forwards and we were destroyed on counter-attacks in the last minutes. We left too much space in the middle for England.”