Thinking Cap on
There are plenty of questions, but does Fabio Capello have the answers? Jamie Redknapp hopes so...
Last Updated: 18/06/10 8:52am
There were so many question raised by England's opening game. And right now there are not enough answers, I'm afraid.
As a nation we've spent all week trying to work out what went wrong against the USA and where we go from here, but the first thing to say is there is no need to panic.
We've all watched the opening round of games in the World Cup and apart from maybe Germany, everyone has played pretty poorly. Yes you've got to include England in that as well, but I really don't think there is anyone out there to be worried about.
If Fabio Capello can get his side settled we'll be alright. As long as we can get that defence sorted out, get our forwards firing and generally find some rhythm, build up some momentum, England will be OK. I know it's easier said than done in this country, but everyone just needs to be patient.
Let's be honest, no-one who knows anything about football really expected us to go out and smash the USA. They are a decent side, they beat Spain last summer and they are always well-organised and hard to break down. It will get better for England because I sat and watched Algeria and Slovenia and there really is nothing to worry about there.
That said, it's impossible to sit here and pretend everything is rosy because there are some major concerns that Capello now faces; some of them not his fault, some of them completely his own doing.
For a start, I think he has handled the goalkeeping situation badly - even before Rob Green's error against the States. Here we were, going into a major tournament not knowing who our first-choice keeper was. David James was given the number one jersey - which usually gives you a fair idea - then all of a sudden Green is in.
Admittedly Capello is unlike other England managers in as much that he doesn't really have an established number one, a keeper we know is going to be one of the first names on the teamsheet. I've played with David James and he is fantastic but unfortunately he has made mistakes for England; I don't know Joe Hart but he is a little untested; I suppose Green is a bit of both!
For me, the uncertainty meant the manager had to clear it up sooner rather than later. I don't mind players not being told they're in the team until two hours before kick-off, because that happens all the time - it used to happen to us at Liverpool. But in club football, you know who the number one keeper is and although I'm no goalkeeping expert, they are a different breed. They probably do need more time to prepare themselves.
Capello should have come out and said to Green 'you are my number one - unless something drastic happens'. We're not talking about Gordon Banks or Peter Shilton here, these guys are much of muchness in terms of ability - but you need to have a main man, I think. Now he has a situation on his hands and we, like the players, can only guess what he does next.
Does he stick with Green and hope that he proves to be a world-beater when in all honesty, the lad's confidence must be in bits? Does he bring in James and immediately put him under more pressure? If he does that, we will lose Green to England forever. It's no time to worry about people's feelings, but I think he has to stick with the lad now.
The Ledley King situation is also a sad state of affairs - and a decision that backfired on the manager. I love Ledley and was so pleased for him when he made the squad; but I was also worried. With Ledley and his injury you cannot build on patterns of play in training, you can't have sessions with the defence and that must be a nightmare for the back four - and the keeper, whoever he is.
It also left Jamie Carragher coming on at half-time in a big, big game and struggling to adjust to the pace. I have no problems with Carra and do think he will start against Algeria - and have no problem with that at all. He defends properly, he is a good talker and while people say he lacks pace, it doesn't matter because he reads the game so well.
And that defence will have the added insurance of Gareth Barry back in front of them. That was always going to happen as soon as he was fit, but sadly I really don't think it will make any difference to the way England line up. Capello is a 4-4-2 man, as he has showed, and I don't see that changing.
My dad thinks we should go 4-4-2 because this group is there for the taking, but I would love to see something different. Frank Lampard is at his best when he's playing off Didier Drogba; Steven Gerrard at his best when he's playing in and around Fernando Torres; Joe Cole has played left-hand side for England and Chelsea for a while now and knows the role. And Wayne Rooney has just had the season of his life playing up front for Manchester United - on his own.
I would love to see these players playing where they are happiest for England, but can't see that being the case. I think it's an absolute banker that Capello will stick with Emile Heskey and Wayne up top - and probably move Stevie out to the left. I know Stevie and I know he won't be happy there; of course he'll do it and do it well, but I would love to see him down the middle with licence to get beyond Rooney - that happened once against the USA and he scored.
I just wish we could see these players in the positions they play week in, week out for their clubs. Imagine Barry sitting in there, letting Lampard and Gerrard go forward knowing they're covered. Imagine Joe Cole coming in from the left to join in as well, knowing Ashley Cole can attack down that flank. We've got Aaron Lennon and Glen Johnson forming a decent partnership down the right as well. And five across the middle would allow us to do one thing England can never seem to do - keep the ball.
Thankfully I don't think it will be a huge concern against Algeria though, because they really have nothing to worry England. I think the best they can hope for is to stay compact, frustrate and close down - and hope their keeper doesn't make another howler. The longer they keep it goalless the better, because there is real pressure on England here.
See Jamie Redknapp's latest batch of Red-Hot Tips
We drew the first game of Euro 96 against the Swiss and it does change things, straight away. You know you have to go out and win the next game or that's likely to be the end of your tournament before it's even begun. The players will have seen the reaction back here; I know for a fact that they only have a few TV channels out there and one of them is Sky Sports News, so they will know the mood of the country.
But that's how it is with England; there are very rarely any grey areas with the media. It's black or white; we are either going to win the World Cup or be on the first plane home, end of story. Capello will know that now, but I really don't think he's helped himself so far.
England win - They have to for a start, but in all honesty Algeria are nothing to worry about. The USA were a decent side, the other two in this group are not. And we should be happy with a win because from now it is all about building momentum and a solid performance will give England a platform to build on as they move on. A clean sheet, whoever it is against, will get that defence settled and a win will get the confidence flowing through their veins again. The last thing we need is more bookings and injuries, so a comfortable, routine win will do me fine. I'll say 2-0 - because if we score any more the press will have us down as world-beaters again!
Wayne Rooney - He'll have seen the criticism from the USA game and it will have hurt him. He's always desperate to do well for England, but this time he will be itching to make a proper impact on the World Cup. I only hope he doesn't try too hard because I think he was guilty of that at times against the USA - and when he gets frustrated, we all know what can happen. We have enough quality in other places not to rely solely on Wayne, but we need him scoring goals again at this level and the sooner the better. He is that good, it only takes one second, one flash of brilliance. Let's hope we get one on Friday.