THE nasal Brummie accent sliced through the air like a chainsaw.

"I'm telling you," he told his group of pals for at least a third time, "it was tripe, absolutely chuffing tripe."

Only maybe less of the chuffing.

Leaning over a barrier pitch-side at the National Football Centre seemed an appropriate place to be discussing the contribution of the England captain.

There were five of them enjoying the sun on their backs while watching Bradford City's reserves wilt against their Burton counterparts.

The game was on the outer end of the impressive St George's Park complex where England go through their paces before internationals.

Each of the dozen pitches in the rural Staffordshire venue is named after someone synonymous with the three lions – Sir Alf Ramsey, Lineker, Owen, Shearer and Banks among them.

Two along, on the Paul Ince pitch, Leicester's under-21s were playing the Nike Academy.

City's second string were in action on the Kelly Smith pitch – the centre's nod towards the women's game.

Burton rattled up the goals in the second half but thoughts on the touchline were on the team who had been training there four days earlier.

Rooney, in particular, was getting both barrels to general agreement.

His deeper-than-deep free role in Slovakia has bemused many – and I suspect Sam Allardyce is one of them.

I'm all for Big Sam being in charge after the debacle of the Euros and the dithering approach of Roy Hodgson.

Tough times call for tough decision-makers and there are few less likely to be swayed by reputation that Allardyce. Or so it seemed.

But his peculiar response to the question about Rooney's underwhelming efforts raised eyebrows nationwide.

Letting the captain do as he pleased sounded a very laissez-faire approach to his first game at the England helm.

I'd like to think that was a public smokescreen to what he really thought. He was hardly going to slap down Rooney in the media on day one.

Privately, I hope Allardyce has had "a word" with his skipper about playing to team instructions and not leaving Harry Kane out to dry as the lone striker.

England got away with it on this occasion – in added time against ten men. They will not always be so lucky.

Rooney has already come out and announced he will retire from the international game after Russia in 2018. No doubt his name will then adorn one of the surfaces at St George's – and rightly so as the country's record goal-scorer.

But by making his intentions clear he has, in effect, put a gun to Allardyce's head. Even if my form goes off the boil, drop me if you dare…

"He was terrible in the Iceland game and then he plays like that," bemoaned my mate on the halfway line. "He shouldn't have even been in the team."

But then Mr Birmingham is not England manager. Everyone has an opinion but only one will count.

At some point it could be the biggest decision in Big Sam's career.


IT HAD to happen.

There was an air of inevitability that Phil Parkinson would collect League One's first management accolade of the new season – and that he would pip Stuart McCall to win it.

Less predictable was the other former Bantams employee picking up a trophy yesterday. But Josh Morris has made a fantastic, goal-laden start to life at Scunthorpe.

Then again, it had started so promisingly for Morris with City a year ago – remember that spectacular strike at Swindon on opening day?

But plenty of City fans picked up on the irony that the present player of the month struggled to get a game under the manager of the month.

However, suggestions that Bolton will now be struck down by the "traditional curse" that follows the award appear wide of the mark.

Statistics suggested that the fabled fall that follows the managerial presentation doesn't actually happen.

Figures dating back to 2013 tracing the last 25 winners in League One show that 11 of them – 44 per cent – collected another three points from the next game. Only seven were beaten.

And another record to consider? The team topping the table after six games have only once won promotion in the last ten years – and that was via the play-offs.

It's a long, long season, as if it needs repeating.