There WE Said It.com
Where Are The Young Players?
England World Cup Chances
29th September 2008
An American and a Scotsman accosted yours truly with the view that England did not suffer from poor management or mentality or tactics but were just too poor a football team to win a major tournament - or at least be expected to at odds of less than 14/1 say.
I made now familiar arguments about the level our key players play at and how we had the opposite problem of a surfeit of quality. Of course the H word gets used and it is Heskey.
Now I probably rate Heskey pretty low. He does not work very hard any more. He is not that physical and his skill levels are not that high. I doubt he could have had the effect that Kevin Davies had at Bolton for instance. I doubt he'd be as useful to most clubs as Peter Crouch.
This is the problem though that whilst I can concretely point to hard facts that would see 3 or 4 England players in many sides (not you Rooney and Owen!) and Joe Cole probably in almost any squad (Brazil would probably favour flashier but poorer players) we don't have enough good players.
Theo Walcott may become a winger although again like getting the best out of Lampard I can only see it in a 433 (that would mean dropping Rooney which objectively is no great hardship on the last 4 years). Joe Cole can cover a flank but ideally would surely play off a striker in a 433 or as a 2nd striker in the previously known as Wayne Rooney role that Rooney is so inept at playing. Any Arsenal fans want to chime in on the effect of Walcott in the games they would not have won easily please do. He may develop but would you definitively take Rooney now over Rooney at 19? Really worrying for me Walcott is the only pace in hailing distance of the squad as well.
Worse we struggle to pick a goalkeeper. None are even premiership class never mind world class.
In our seemingly favored 442 it is hard to see a role for John Terry as he likes to sit too deep and is a liability when forced to turn (see the Sol Campbell/Tony Adams years of defensive folly). So he cannot be ideally picked in a team that plays team football moving up the pitch 442 as we did against Croatia.
We have already touched on how Wayne Rooney and Heskey/Crouch/ whoever you like (me Davies) is not a world class forward line. We don't have a world class forward. Rooney covers no holes and is a poor fit wide 433 (or we have better players). The others show the preference for team players over limited poacher stars like Owen but are not exactly Drogba, Torres or Villa.
Lampard is 30. Can do a role in a 442 as he showed against Croatia where he was not expected to be both attacker and defender in a 2 as pace out wide and height up top meant we could play team football. At least the impossible was not asked of him and the defense played up the field to shorten the pitch for the likes of him.
Gerrard's never been consistently a good player for England, never mind world class - his technical failings all too often shown up against packed midfields or when pushed deep.
Then we have a rag back of limited players with questionable all round qualities like Barry, Hargreaves, Jenas and Carrick.
Worse who is the next Lampard or Gerrard or Scholes? Can Capello even deploy our 2 best players in the same team? No players have Lampard's all round technical gifts nor Gerrard's immense physical presence never mind his penchant for key goals when his team is losing.
Terry and Rio are generally rated world class. I have reservations but could easily see them selected in almost any side in the world and probably as a pair. The problem as described is that they are not a pairing and I would not play Terry in a 442 IF there were alternatives. The sad truth is we do not have a genuine pairing and only 2 fringe world class players in all the back 4.
The alternatives include names like Woodgate and Brown or Joleon Lescott currently playing the clown for Everton now he does not have midfield cover. Sol Campbell was recalled not so long ago! Just horrible
Full back we scrape. Glen Johnson may be an injury to serial disappointment Wes Brown from the starting slot. Just a horrible defensive player [GJ] who is easily beaten and turned and relies on referee largesse to stay on the pitch as he disrupts opponents with cheating cynical fouling.
Ashley Cole is too short. His passing and crossing lousy. His goal and assists record not great. So he must be a good open field defender then? Average at best unfortunately. His positioning and closing down would rank low. His replacement none other than slowed down by injury club mate Wayne Bridge who is also not tall and whilst technically better does not have his pace.
Just a cluster fuck. David "Calamity" James is the best and he looks awful at present before considering his brain cramps.
In conclusion I reluctantly concur that England are not a team. That they have too many poor players and too few prospects, who are mostly unable to consistently influence football games when they are in the balance [0-0]. For all the strength of Lampard, Gerrard, Cole (Joe), Rio and Terry we lack real quality across the board. Plus 4 of those players are declining or approaching/past 30. Arguably the best 2 fit together like two head sections of a pantomime horse. Arguably even when we have good players we cannot over come the under dog mentality to hold leads and retain the ball. Walcott aside is there are classy young player yet at Premiership level who threatens to break into the national side?
I wonder if the next world cup is the last for a while where we can project to being a genuine 8 or 10 to one shot? Arguing we should be shorter, as I did, may be folly and not backed past form nor by current talent. Yes you could have felt Spain would choke again this year and drawn parallels. I say you cannot deny a team with forwards like Villa and the ability to use Torres and/or Fabregas as a functional player when it suited the team not their egos has more cutting edge than England have had in 40 years.
I hope I am wrong or Capello even better than his record.