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.
Labels: england, fabio capello, jagielka, milner, walcott