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Monday, March 08, 2010

Whither England

Fabio Capello's England breezed through qualification with a host of genuinely world class players - Rooney, Terry, Gerrard - but now, three months ahead of the finals, the wheels have well and truly come off the England train.

Firstly, even when David James is fully fit, England have no truly world class goalkeeper - Robert Green is a pretty solid 'keeper with, crucially, a good record at saving penalties, but he's no Dino Zoff.

Secondly, if Rio Ferdinand doesn't regain both fitness and form, it looks likely that Matt Upson will partner John Terry in central defence. Upson is not really up to the job, as his showing against Egypt indicated. There is a case for promoting Everton's Phil Jagielka, but unfortunately for him, it's too late to really bed the guy into the team.

Midfield: yup, that's a problem area too. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard haven't been at their best this season, for sure, but strangely, the problem area is the right side of midfield.

I say strangely because England have all these players vying for that position: David Beckham, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon, even James Milner.

The problem is that the #1 choice, Aaron Lennon, is sidelined with a long term injury and there's no indication when he'll return. David Beckham is not going to start, so that leaves Theo 'headless chicken' Walcott and Shaun Wright-Phillips in the role of speedy winger. Neither of these players offers anything in the way of consistency and that, to my mind, represents too much of a risk when playing the better sides at the World Cup 2010.

Attack: Well, England have got Wayne Rooney. So that's something and we do have a few other players who are capable of getting goals : Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch. It's just a shame that Capello favours 'lumbering' Emile Heskey over either of this duo, isn't it.

I make no apologies for this pessemistic post, but in a world where Owen Coyle can suggest Kevin Davies as a possible England striker and be taken seriously, it needs to be clear that England aren't the team to win a World Cup.

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posted by mark_s at 10:13 AM


Blogger Neal Collins said...

Clearly you didn't see Kevin Davies play for Bolton at West Ham. He'd be a handful for most World Cup nations, particularly Algeria and Slovenia. You ARE being overly-pessimistic. England have fantastic depth in all areas, from goalkeeper (James, Green, Hart, Robinson) to left-back (Cole, Bridge, Warnock, Barry, Baines) to right midfield (Wright-Phillips, Lennon, Beckham, Milner) to name but a few. Premier League players will dominate this World Cup and despite the "foreign invasion" England has them by the bucketful. We are ranked 8th in the world, FIFA blessed us with the perfect Group C... and if you look at, you'll see preparations have been carefully laid. Don't bet against England getting to the semis... and beyond.

3:56 PM  
Blogger mark_s said...

Hi Neal,

I only saw highlights of Davies v. West Ham, so I am making my judgement on more than one game.

Personally, I actually like the player and have always enjoyed watching Bolton, both under Allardyce and Megson. I have no prejudice against Kevin Davies just because he players for the Trotters.

Indeed, I've been surprised that Matt Taylor has never got an England call up.

However, Davies is not an international class player. Being a handful against Algeria and Slovenia, he may be. But even that is unproven.

As for 'fantastic depth in all areas' - I think you are confusing having a lot of players in those positions with real depth.

Depth implies quality beyond the first eleven and England just don't have it.

You're a professional sports journalist and I would hope that you can see that comments like "premier league players will dominate this World Cup" are disingenous in the extreme.

9:05 PM  

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