England, land of hope and no glory

I admit I am just adding my opinion to England’s most recent failings at the World Cup, but I felt I needed to get it off my chest! Please note though, I have respect for these athletes for reaching the top of their game.

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I hate personal player attacks. When one man is made the scape goat, when in fact a few were not good enough. So with that in mind lets go through them all, starting with Leighton Baines. The Everton left back made it clear that he lacks big game experience. He wasn’t helped by Wayne Rooney in the first match against Italy who offered no cover. In the second game, he should have been sweeping round and aware of Suarez’s movement behind Jagielka. He had little chance to do his famous over lapping runs, but when he did get in the final third more often than not his delivery was poor, and even worse from set pieces.

Now, I am one of Steven Gerrard’s biggest fans. I have read his book and have nothing but respect for him. For the way he has rose through Liverpool’s ranks, his angst at being rejected from Lilleshall and his tenacity to become one of Liverpool and England’s greatest midfielders. Yet in this World Cup he has failed to turn up. I don’t think he had a particularly bad game against Italy spraying some great 40 yard passes, but that was about it. In games like that our experienced and main players need to step up. Against Uruguay he was sadly very poor. I was worried from the moment he was barged off the ball by Suarez,  as he was more preoccupied with watching Suarez than the ball. I really feel for him as this will be his last World Cup, and he has to go back to Merseyside after a gut wrenching 3 months. I wouldn’t blame him for Suarez’s second goal however, he was doing his best to win a difficult header. Jagielka and Cahill were at fault for that…

That brings me on to our central defenders. Jagielka is simply not good enough, and that is not his fault. It’s the fault of whoever’s decision it was not to ask/beg John Terry to come back for us. Don’t get me wrong, from what I know of him, I wouldn’t like to spend 2 months away from home with a man that cheats with his team-mates wife, but he had the captaincy revoked, so I think most England fans would have been glad of his stability at the back. Instead we had Jagielka who was slow, quite immobile and clueless as to where his partner at the back, Cahill was. Cahill made some great tackles in the two matches, but again should have been more aware as that long punt down field resulted in Suarez’s winner. Also, Johnson was weak defensively, he did what I called a “fairy jump” in an attempt to block a cross, which was a little flutter of the legs as he jumped in the air and needless to say the ball ended up in the middle.

And what of our forwards? Sterling, a good first game Vs Italy, not afraid to run at people and scare them with his pace. Yet the English media got very over excited, and in the second game he was non-existent in a wider role. Welbeck put a shift in during the first game, winning the ball back countless times, but I couldn’t tell you what he did Vs Uruguay. I thought Sturridge’s goal was superbly taken in the Italy game, it is extremely difficult to control that type of cross and he could easily have ballooned it over! In the second game he was perhaps a little selfish with pot shots and losing the ball.

Everyone was obsessed with Rooney. Leave the man alone! I was pleased to see him tap home his first World Cup goal, he is certainly better in a central position. He also created our other goal, so all in all he did a lot more than many of our other players.

That leaves Jordan Henderson. Not much has been said about him, there has been some criticism that him and Gerrard didn’t manage to keep the ball against Uruguay, but we had 62% possession? He worked hard, did a hell of a lot of closing down and played simple passes. He needs more experience but that comes with big games. He is only 24, then again saying that Ozil is 25! Having said that, who would have thought the so called “flop” from Sunderland would be a pivotal player for Liverpool’s title charge and a starter at the World Cup? If he can develop that much in a year, I am sure by the Euros in 2016 he can and will be more assured.

I wish Llanana had started instead of Welbeck, he offers more attacking flair. He looked great in the friendlies and must have been disappointed not to start either game. The same goes for Barkley, but then the only space was further back in Henderson’s roll which probably would not have suited his attacking flair which he demonstrated when he came on. It was nice to see Lambert get a World Cup appearance against Uruguay but he is not the future. So what is the future?

At the next World Cup in Russia in 2018 it will have been 52 years of hurt, yes, 52! You’d imagine Sterling, Barkley, Lallana and Shaw will have had more big game experience. I would love to see Roy give all of them a start V Costa Rica on Tuesday. Shaw deserves to start, Baines has been lackluster. For what it’s worth (which is nothing) this would be my team: Foster (sentimental, give him a World Cup appearance, and Joe Hart has done nothing spectacular), Johnson (because Jones is not a right back) Smalling (has to be better than Jagielka) Cahill, Shaw. Then in midfield, Wilshere, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain (what a shame he has not been fit, imagine him and Walcott, things may have been different) Sterling, Barkley, Sturridge or Rooney.

A player who should have gone, Ashley Cole. Yet despite all this, Roy could not have made a better call than leaving Tom not so Cleverly out.

Euro 2016, we are coming for you, well, stumbling, hopefully…Hope. England fans always have it and are always dogged by it, even if there are “no expectations.” It never goes away.

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