from England’s opposition.
After an atrocious first half and then a not much better second half, after which England were flattered by a 3-1 scoreline against Egypt, who aren’t at the World Cup, last night, there was far too much talking up of the team and certain individuals in particular. Especially the captain and coach.
After all it may have ended well but Fabio picked that starting XI, the eleven that he thought could do the job and it gave an indication of what he’ll pick come South Africa in June. Does any England fan want to head into that first game against the US with that lineup? Hell it could even get worse with the club games certain players will have between now and then.
So lets start at the very back. Green? Why? Well Fabio said a while back he knows his #1, does this mean it’s Green. Why play him, he’s started a number of internationals lately, surely by now Fabio knows what he’s got, even if it’s very little. Green is a semi-competent ‘keeper, like last night he didn’t have much to do and what he did he was OK. But you know there’s a howler in there somewhere. His distribution last night was poor and that’s the last thing that defence needs is to be played into trouble by their own ‘keeper. Why wasn’t Hart given a look, he’s only got one cap, he needs the experience, after all Green may not be available in a few months and that leaves us with Calamity. Dear god, not again. As Robinson, having a pretty good season in a poor team looked on from above.
So that defence, man that’s grim. There’s one person on this planet that thinks Wes Brown is an international fullback and it ain’t even Wes Brown. And it’s certainly non of his team-mates as to a man throughout that game when in possession they looked up saw Brown free and immediately stopped themselves, had second thoughts and then you could almost hear them think – “oh god I have to, there’s no one else” – as their shoulders dropped. Oh and by the way it’s Fabio, he’s the only one that thinks it, in case you hadn’t guessed.
Terry, well Fabio said he thought the ex-captain’s form hadn’t dropped. Yeah right Fab, because he wasn’t skinned and embarrassed against Citeh time and time again. The power slides, yards from the ball, the running the wrong side of Tevez for the first goal – why would anyone go the non-goal side for that? – the air shots, all say he’s in tip top form. He’s slow and ponderous, only in there as the blocker, not there as a great footballer but to be the one to stop those that are. When he can’t even do that what is the point?
Now if you’ve got the Jack Charlton stopper you need the Bobby Moore player. But no, we’ve got Upson. There’s a reason he looks confused all the team, he’s trying to figure out why he’s there. A dear in the headlights, dullard who instils confidence in no one. Yes it was a slip for the Egypt goal but you know he’s going to slip at the important times, he didn’t slip when attacks were fizzling out. A decent club player, not an international, or he wouldn’t be at the club he is.
Baines, now there’s a shocker, Fabio actually picked the right player. When Milner’s name was listed among the defenders when the squad was announced, who didn’t think – “oh I see where this is going”? Now Baines didn’t disgrace himself but I’ve seen some criticism of him, all unjustified. His first cap and he’s out there on the left all on his lonesome, no help at all, well until the 73 minute. He defended OK, but we didn’t really see him get forward, mainly because he had no support out there on the left, it was him against Egypt’s right sided player and wingback. Against that on his own, I amend myself his defending was better than OK. After the 73 minute and with support we saw him finally get forward, put in a decent cross, though deflected, did result in a goal. He Also put in the only decent corner.
So what was Baines real problem, ah yes the collector of undeserved caps – that was number 78 – the captain who led by example. Gerrard. As he floated about, aimlessly in the middle of the park, Gerrard put in his standard England display. Useless. Totally exposing Baines, who he didn’t help at all throughout his time on the pitch, more interest in self-glory. Gerrard’s performance can be summed up in passage of play, somewhere during the first 45 minutes he lost the ball weakly in the Egypt half, as the Egyptian player ran forward, Gerrard sauntered behind not making any attempt to catch up never mind atone for his error. There was a little pinball and the ball luckily made it’s way back to the captain at which point he hit a standard glory ball for a Rooney run. Nobody watching could understand why Rooney bothered, there was no way he would catch it before it crossed the dead ball line for a goal kick. The pass to Barry for England’s opener was the only pass he didn’t over or under hit in those 73 minutes.
Another manager is trying to crowbar him into the team, it’s no coincidence that England looked livelier, sharper and that Baines finally got forward and attacked when Milner came on. Look at the last few games and ask yourself why is Gerrard starting and Milner only a sub? It doesn’t make sense. It’s not as if the captain is even being outstanding for his beloved club. As for having the armband, who was leading them out there? He provided nothing, as Rooney was screaming at his team mates.
Another manager finds that Gerrard and Frank don’t fit, though you may be forgiven for asking “Frank who?” Yes Lampard was playing, he was just slightly more anonymous than Gerrard and Barry. Oh yes Barry was out there for all the game, I know you only noticed him after Carrick arrived. Can a central pairing have ever done so little, bar miss one sitter, in a half of football? Well one that doesn’t include the Jenasite. Now Frank was slow last night and it was flagged up the amount of games he’s played so far, well that number ain’t gonna get any lower by the summer.
So the right flank and the starting position given to the last man standing. How else did Walcott get a starting place, hardly in his club side and certainly not in any kind of form. He was only there because he was the only one left on the list Fabio picks from. Lennon, out injured. Beckham, flitting between the geriatric day centre that is Italian football and funeral waiting room that is the MLS. Wright-Phillips, not in any sort of form. Ashley Young, discarded, even though he’s the only candidate that is playing well.
So Walcott, poor old Theo stuck between a rock and a hard place, play badly and miss out on the World Cup, play well and his club manager will punish him as he doesn’t make the bench never mind the starting XI for their next game. He had the beating of the fullback but after the first succeeded he didn’t have the footballing ability to repeat. Another English player destroyed by that club and it’s manager? Wright-Phillips came on and yes he score one lucky goal and laid on another but other than that he was as inept as Walcott. The same old SWP, has the ability to beat a player but instead of knocking the ball past him, turning him and chasing it down, he will insist in running into the player and meekly losing possession. All too predictable.
The strikers, well there was a genuine surprise, Defoe up with Rooney. Whoa actually saw that coming? Not me. Anyway we were then told the line about the two England strikers on form, well yes and no. Rooney is, Defoe well has been and hasn’t been. It’s not been a season long form , it’s been an up and and down form. A lot of peaks where scoring comes in bundles but separated by many a fallow week, after all Pavlyuchenko is the one on form. He only really had one gilt edged chance, one that he dithered over and could get a shot off in time. No real surprise seeing him replaced at half-time.
Rooney, ran about, did a lot of running, quite a bit of defending as well but didn’t really link with Defoe and neither of them got any real service in that first half. Also did a bit of shouting, told the ref to “fuck off”, did a bit more screaming and shouting at his team. Some say he had a great game, he didn’t get the service to have a great game. At the moment the way he’s playing for ManUre he’s filling the same role and therefore the same positions as Defoe. It’s a pairing that hasn’t worked before and I don’t think will work. Also how many times have we heard in the last few weeks about the number of headers Rooney has scored, how many crosses came in last night?
Crouch’s introduction changed things, surprisingly for England not for the worse. As the beanpole came on first thing you expect is an increase of long aimless humps up the park. Thankfully Rio was playing, so that was kept to a minimum. It was played to feet for both his goals as finally a striker received decent balls, which he proceeded to stick away with two excellent taken finishes. Now what does Fabio do? It worked but you feel Crouch is going to be on Spurs bench a bit from n ow on.
This was all against a team that didn’t reach the World Cup, yeah they may have won a third straight African Cup of Nations but after they went ahead they dropped back and barely got out of their half for much of the game and England huffed and puffed and struggled.
Yes the England team that finished were far better than the one that started, so Fabio made good changes but he also started that first XI and they were his first choice from those available. The first half was piss poor, the second wasn’t as great as certain TV broadcaster would have you believe and the frightening thing is it could be worse, sat on that bench was Calamity James, Beckham, Lescott and Heskey.
That’s your lot, knocking on 1800 words, most of which you’ve read here before but hey it’s the truth…