By The Pugilist
June 20, 2010
For a start a few certainties have been answered since England‘s draw in their World Cup opener against the USA. Rob Green’s World Cup is over and so potentially is his England career. Jamie Carragher’s brief return to the international stage and it was brief is also over after picking up a second yellow card against Algeria and so it would seem is Ledley Kings’, the permanently injured Tottenham defender who rarely plays two games on a spin for his club side is, yes you have guessed it, injured!
Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any worse England line up against Algeria on Friday night with 20 million English fans back home watching, in anticipation for Rooney and co to finally stamp their intentions on these finals and deliver a true English winning performance only to do what England do best, blow it beyond the realms of belief.
However, believe it or not there are still two positives intact, England are still unbeaten at these finals and a win over Slovenia on Wednesday will see the three lions qualify, where if all goes to plan I believe they will end up playing Serbia.
Looking back over the inept performance over Algeria it is plain to see that not all is right in the England camp. People have highlighted Frances’ obvious disharmony among the ranks well I believe England are not to dissimilar. Put aside the obvious and by that I mean team selection, players out of form etc and focus on the body language of the players themselves.
Wayne Rooney was supposed to be the talisman, the player that would roar England through each stage of the competition with his work-rate, desire, heart and passion and show the World what a wonderfully gifted player he is. Thus far he has been arguably England’s worst performer and looks a mere shadow of the player that puts on the red of Manchester Utd every week.
Then like a petulant child he had the nerve and audacity to complain about the England fans booing the team off after having personally offered nothing in 90 minutes football against the Algerians. Hard working, good honest people who paid thousands of pounds and travelled thousands of miles deserve better.
The players have 90 minutes in a game to impose themselves, take their frustrations out on the opposition and vent their anger on the ball. When the fans see such an incompetent, timid display then the only way they can express their despair and frustrations is by booing.
Rooney is quite clearly not fit and it could quite possibly run even deeper then that. Fabio Capello is being paid an incredible salary by the FA, now he has to justify that investment by making some very ballsy decisions in England’s final game against the Slovenians.
The reason England flop is that they are actually afraid that they might. Memories of so many depressing tournaments combine with the crushing weight of expectation and suffocate the players. That was only too evident again against the Algerians. Capello correctly identified fear as the core of the difficulties and remarked that it was similar to when he took over. Exactly. So why is fear still choking ambitions?
Capello can’t be blamed for Green’s calamitous blunder against the USA and had that not happened then England may have been a completely different animal, but he must be questioned for his stubborn selection of Heskey and his decision to exclude Theo Walcott, Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor when those who survived the cull are no better.
Capello now has three days before the circus shifts to Port Elizabeth, one last throw of the dice in which to prove he can still be the ringmaster and conjure a formula from the wreckage of what is so far a dismal English display.
Where he starts to unravel the mess in my opinion is quite easy and straight forward. David James was the one good thing to come out of the Algerian match, he had a good presence and kept competently. The back four obviously needs to change again with Carragher out suspended. Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson should remain full backs with Michael Dawson being given the opportunity to partner John Terry (his third different pairing). Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole should head up the three in midfield with Steven Gerrard playing behind the striking partnership of Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch.
4-3-1-2 is the last throw in my opinion and he has to play Joe Cole on the left side of the three in the middle and Gerrard behind Rooney and Crouch.
England’s World cup bid is now dangling by a thread, defeat against Slovenia will spell the end for Capello and a number of so called super stars. However victory over the Slovakians matched with a good solid team performance will not fix what are quite clearly a number of on going problems but it will go towards restoring a little faith and belief among the loyal supporters desperate for England to do well.
The players and Capello owe it the country, the supporters and more importantly to themselves.