Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog


Rob Green makes the second biggest Anglo-American spill of the summer
June 13, 2010, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags:

Calm down everyone.

Yes England’s first round result was not what most of the readers here wanted, or predicted. The game seemed to sum up every English international campaign in living memory: strong start, overexpectations before an outrageous clanger exposes the true problems blighting the team.

But we didn’t lose and we played OK. We could have won the game comfortably if we reneged on the national hobby of conceding metnal goals.

However, there is no way to sugar-coat it: a 1-1 draw with America is starting with a limp. If the next game goes badly the whole campaign will already be crippled.

Going into the Algeria match this is the team I hope Capello will play.

James
Johnson – Terry – Upson – Cole
Lennon – Barry – Lampard – Gerrard
Heskey – Rooney

From first choice to bottom of the pile - poor old Robbie Green.

Rob Green will rightly receive the majority of the criticism. I hope he doesn’t start against Algeria, and not just for the mistake. I’ve always thought David James deserves that. How mental though that our keepers come from teams that finished bottom, 17th and 10th.

Although Green’s performance was otherwise good, that is not a mistake one would expect to come from a World Cup winner.  Similarly, although Heskey’s performance was outstanding, his inability to finish the one-on-one is not what you would expect from a World Cup winner.

This all sums up what is generally the case: England are probably just not good enough to really challenge the top teams.

But that doesn’t mean we have no chance. Football is a mental game and, with a bit of luck, momentum can come to any team’s fortunes around. Conceivably a dozen teams could win this tournament.

From now on, England should have a proper holding midfielder when Gareth Barry returns. Although Barry himself is not amazing, his role is vital. Although Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are both better footballers, playing the two of them in the middle clearly does not work.

There is an argument that if he was closing down on the American midfield they would have been unable to pepper Rob Green with so many long-range efforts in the first half.

The Gerrard-Lampard midfield partnership was the same as it was way back in 2004 and 2006. Although both played well individually (Gerrard, especially), as a combination it just doesn’t work.

It may seem harsh to push Gerrard back onto the wing when Barry returns, but that is what I hope to see happen. Lampard is too valuable to drop and, although it is a dis-service to remove Gerrard from his best position, it does make sense for the overall benefit of the team.

Also, if things need changing you can always put Joe Cole on for Lampard, and push Stevie G into the middle.

Anything but Shaun Wright-Phillips, please.

Fabio has a jigsaw puzzle to solve

With Ledley King likely out for the next game (surprise, surprise!) another headache is in central defence. As seems to be the case with England, we may have to drop the more talented player (Jamie Carragher) for the more functional one (Matt Upson).

Although Carragher has excellent decision making ability, so too does John Terry. More worryingly, Carragher is also as flat-footed these days as JT. The two looked creaky against the Yanks and if Jozi Altidore can skin past them it doesn’t bear thinking what a more talented forward would do.

For that reason, I’d partner the brick-wall of Terry with the more athletic Upson.

As is the recurring and frankly boring argument regarding Emile Heskey, I think the most important thing is to play the best players to fit your tactics, rather than creating tactics to focus around the best players. Again, it’s the reason why the likes of Kleberson and Stephan Guivarc’h were regulars in World Cup winning teams.

The major difference though is that Kleberson could rely on Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, and Guivarc’h had Zinedine Zidane.

Let’s just hope that our one genuinely incredible player – Wayne Rooney – turns up for the next game. That way we have a better chance of maximising our extremely talented ones – Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard.