Saturday, 19 June 2010

And we thought France were bad

Oh dear.

The worst England performance since Steve McClaren let Terry Venables have his wicked way with the formation in Croatia.

I said a couple of days ago that all I wanted was a good performance, and that is really all I, and most people, want from England. If we lose in the quarter final having given our best and lost to a better side, then that's fine. What I do have a problem with are performances like yesterday. Against the USA we were unlucky, we would have won that game without a freak mistake, but last night was just appalling. When I was talking about France's defeat to Mexico, I criticised Raymond Domenech for his team selection and his substitutions. It's only fair to do the same to Capello.

I am genuinely surprised he dropped Robert Green, if he was his best keeper a week ago, then has he suddenly become rubbish? He presumably wouldn't drop Wayne Rooney if he missed an open goal, so why get rid of Green? In any case, if we start dropping players for one mistake we'll need a whole new squad after last night. As for the subs, we still seem to have this unwritten rule that says Rooney, Gerrard and Lampard have to play all game every game. Lampard and Rooney in particular were terrible last night, there's nothing wrong with deciding after 70 minutes that we need to try something different. I would have liked to see a midfield of Cole - Gerrard - Barry - Lennon behind Crouch and Defoe by the end. We need to get out of this ridiculous mentality that big players can't be substituted. On top of that, as much as the media might want us to think otherwise, we have no genuine world class players (except probably at left back). We do not have a Messi or Ronaldo who can win games on their own, Rooney is not anywhere near that standard. I'm not saying he's not very good or anything ridiculous like that, he's still England's best player (excluding, again, Ashley Cole) but he's not good enough to warrant being kept on if he's had a bad game and there are different options on the bench. We've learnt that Defoe and Rooney can't play together, but Defoe can play with Peter Crouch, so try it out if we need a goal! Capello decided to do it far too late last night, and then inexplicably kept Rooney on and played him on the left wing.

After slagging off the whole team, I would still only make a couple of changes for the Slovenia game. Joe Cole ahead of Heskey and a change to 4-2-3-1, then Dawson for the suspended Carragher at the back. It wasn't really the starting 11 that was the problem. Obviously to an extent we didn't win because most of the team played extremely badly, but the substitutions didn't change anything. As an example to back up how important they can be if used well; two Mexican subs scored against France, and the third won a penalty.

Dragging myself away from England for a second, a couple of other games took place yesterday. I imagine both the Germans and the Americans are also very angry this morning. Miroslav Klose was sent off for very, very little whilst Maurice Edu had a goal disallowed seemingly for the offence of 'all his teammates being fouled'. Really it was some careless defending in the first half that cost the USA the win, but they still deserved victory in the end. As for Germany, it's been 36 years since they last missed a penalty in regulation play, so pencil in the next one for the 2046 World Cup. This little blip probably won't cost them because they should beat Ghana and their hammering of Australia might well win them the group. I can't see Ghana taking the Socceroos apart in quite the same way today, so if it comes down to goal difference - which it probably will - Germany qualify.

Finally, Fabio Capello did an interview on Five Live today, and used an interpreter. The Daily Mail is gonna have a field day with that.

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