The gloves are off
Paul Merson says Fabio Capello HAS to axe Robert Green as he runs the rule over England's performance.
Last Updated: 13/06/10 4:25pm
Well Fabio Capello paid the price, didn't he? It's as simple as that.
As soon as I saw the team I thought he'd picked the wrong goalkeeper in Robert Green, I really did. That's not being wise after the event either.
I don't know what the extent of David James' injury is or was, but would it have really stopped him saving that shot from Clint Dempsey? And even if James wasn't fit, I haven't seen Joe Hart make too many mistakes this season.
Then again, I'm worried about all of England's keepers and always have been. All three of them play for teams where they are going to get 10 to 15 shots a game to deal with; they are used to being kept busy but what happens when, like last night, they have one or two shots in an entire game?
What happened against USA was an absolute joke. I see people this morning saying Capello has to stick with Green... but how can he? As players you can't go out and play knowing your goalie could drop a clanger at any moment. And I don't care how poor Algeria or Slovenia are, they will just be thinking 'shoot, shoot, shoot' whenever they can. I feel sorry for Robert Green, but we can't run that risk again.
Forget that talk of Green redeeming himself as well, with that save from Jozy Altidore; how did he redeem himself? By not getting beat at his near post? That's his job. That's why he's there. Goalies are there to make saves - and vital saves - just as centre-forwards are there to score goals. Take that basic function away and I'm sorry, it's not good enough.
Which brings me nicely on to Emile Heskey. Yes, he did well and he was probably England's best player, but we are not going to win the World Cup with him up front. That chance when he was through one-on-one he should've scored, just rolled or slotted it past Tim Howard. Not just put his boot through it to make sure it was on target.
Every time opposition defenders see him on that England team-sheet, they will think they've had a right result. They know the other centre-half can squeeze up on Wayne Rooney and Heskey is not going to burn them for pace, or snap up a half-chance that comes his way. If it was Michael Owen, you wouldn't do that because he can be a one-chance-one-goal striker; with Heskey, you know he needs three or four. Defenders would fear Darren Bent more, believe me.
Rooney was also a problem for me, because he barely seemed to touch the ball. The same goes for Frank Lampard. To be fair to the USA, they did a job on England and deserve credit for that, but the players we have should be able to deal with that. If Rooney can't get on the ball against USA, what chance has he got against Spain or Brazil?
You can't accuse Rooney of not looking for it, but it's the others around him. Capello should be telling them the first thing they do when they get the ball is look for him. He is our No 10, the man that makes things happen, and we should always try to go through him. If he's not on, then give it to someone else.
Lampard is another one that apart from that one shot, didn't do anything. This is a world-class midfielder we are talking about here and for me, no other player in world football could have done what he has at Chelsea over the last five years. But for England, he goes missing. If we don't play to his strengths, then I don't see what he does.
People have been telling me it worked between him and Gerrard in the middle but I disagree. Gerrard did really well and that goal was special but the sooner Gareth Barry comes back the better.
As for the rest of it, well why Joe Cole wasn't in there is beyond me. Everyone could see he is the man for England from the moment he came on against Japan and made things happen. I think Milner could do a job against Brazil, when it comes to stopping someone like Maicon or Dani Alves bombing on, but he's solid at best and I am not sure what else he brings to the side.
Mind you, I have no idea why Shaun Wright-Phillips replaced him, either. Capello loves pace, we can see that, but I'm sorry; you need more than pace at this level - you need a bit of craft, a bit of guile. That chance he had summed it all up. He should have been looking to bend it in the far corner, not just get it on target. If he'd have missed, we'd all have understood what he was trying to do.
Bringing him on was a strange decision from Capello. Then again, there were a lot of strange things from the manager that we haven't seen before to be fair to him. It was almost as if was saying 'this is my way'. Fair enough, but it reminded me a bit of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. Everyone knew for years he needed a centre-half, but he refused to buy one, because he will only do it 'his way'.
We all know the keepers were dodgy, we all know Ledley King's fitness is a worry, we all know Joe Cole is our best bet down the left and we all know that Lampard and Gerrard never really do that well together. I suppose now at least Capello knows exactly what it's like to be an England manager.
Yes, USA are the strongest side we'll play in the group, but going 1-0 up after five minutes we should have buried them. Yet somehow England always manage to fall over themselves when it's there for the taking. I sat there before the game genuinely thinking we would win this quite easily because not one of those American players would get anywhere near our team. In fact with the exception of maybe Landon Donovan, we could pick another squad of 23 and I don't think they would get in that either.
We could've and should've won by five, but at the end of the day had Altidore not bottled out of that header or panicked with that second-half chance, we could have just as easily lost.
Now here we are, one fluke and some bad finishing away from going out of the World Cup. It sounds dramatic, but that's the reality. Another game like that and we could be coming home before the knockout stages.
All that 'at least we didn't lose' is a load of rubbish as well and if anyone is sat in the team hotel this morning giving off that vibe, I would seriously be worried. That's OK if you are USA or Algeria and your aim is to get out of the group.But we are talking about England winning the World Cup here. And if Capello doesn't change his keeper, pick Joe Cole and possibly even Michael Dawson next time, that ain't going to happen.
|I'm sorry but I can't give him a mark, I really can't. That for me was unforgivable. And if he "redeemed himself" by not getting beat at his near post, then we're in trouble. I'm not being horrible, but he can't play against Algeria.||0|
|I'm not sure what he did to be honest. He's great at bombing forward but when he does that it leaves us exposed at the back. He put a couple of decent balls in, but nothing to write home about.||6|
|I think the Americans did a job on him. They made sure he didn't get forward and set out their team shape to do that, but at this level you really should be able to come up with something to get round that.||6|
|Didn't do anything wrong and even for the goal, you would be happy as a defender letting Dempsey shoot from there, you really would. He was reliable as always and if he gets injured then it could be curtains for England.||7|
|I know it was only 45 minutes, but he didn't do badly. I am a huge fan of Ledley's but don't forget, his knee has gone and he played some big, big games for Spurs at the end of the season - and they have clearly taken their toll.||6|
|One of the few success stories for England and just the sort of performance you want from your captain first up. That finish was world-class, it really was. Had Lionel Messi scored it, we'd be talking about it for days.||8|
|Disappointing again. I can barely remember him doing a thing, other than that one shot. If Capello is going to stick with him, then England need to find a way of playing to his strengths - or he'll just be anonymous.||5|
|Booked, ill, injured, take your pick! I don't know why he was on the left of midfield to start with. He will do a good containing job down the left against better sides, but this was USA. I can't see that he offers much at this level.||4|
|Seemed to get into some great positions but the final ball didn't quite come off. He ripped his full-back the first time, so what does he do when he gets it again? Knocks it back to Johnson. Still takes the easy way out too often.||6|
|Probably England's best player. Held the ball up, got it out wide and won everything in the air. But you are a centre-forward, you need to score goals. That chance he hit straight at Tim Howard showed us what we all knew.||8|
|The lad is top-drawer, but was clearly squeezed out of the game. He did a couple of decent things, but this is a player we are touting to be the best in the world here. He's always going to suffer because we expect so much.||5||SUBSTITUTES|
|I was surprised when he came on. His pace will tear up defences in the bottom half of the Premier League, but you need more than that to win a World Cup. The chance he wasted said it all: not enough guile.||4|
|Put some good tackles in, as always, but got exposed for pace by Altidore. He'd be better in a game against a top side where we have to be compact, organised and defend. But when we're controlling games? Not for me.||6|
|He'll have been gutted not to have started - and I can understand why. He didn't get enough time to make any impact but I would play him next up, just because his goals record is better than Heskey's.||5|
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