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Capello's big calls backfire

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Phil McNulty | 00:39 UK time, Sunday, 13 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Rustenburg

Fabio Capello delivered assurances about the improvement England will require to progress at the World Cup - and it must come from the coach as well as his players.

Goalkeeper Robert Green stepped forward into the stocks after his dreadful error, the sort that can define a career, allowed Clint Dempsey to equalise Steven Gerrard's early goal and give the United States a point in the opening game in Group C.

And while Green must take the blame for a mistake that cost England victory, and in all likelihood the West Ham United keeper his place in the team, Capello's part in this stuttering start must not escape close scrutiny.

If England's hopes of winning the World Cup rest on Capello getting the big calls correct, then he left plenty of room for manouevre after the 1-1 draw. He made three major moves and was left with a success rate of nil.

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Highlights - England 1-1 USA
The result must be placed in context before examining the reasoning behind it. England were in a state of disappointment as opposed to despair as the team coach pulled out into the gridlocked road system late into the night in Rustenburg.

Capello, as a keen student of Italy's history, will know many World Cup campaigns have flourished into glory after faltering first steps - 1982 and 2006 to name but two.

But there is no escaping the fact England's display provided few answers to their best way forward in South Africa, and left plenty of questions to ponder.

Capello has had many great nights in his illustrious career. This was not one of them.

The common sense logic behind his selection of Green ahead of David James and Joe Hart stated that the old timer was having fitness problems and the young pretender was too callow to risk in a World Cup opener.

Sadly Green, who looked nervous and has always had the capacity to make such mistakes, saw his technique and concentration crumble in the face of the less than formidable force of Dempsey's speculative shot. Not the "terrible" World Cup balls condemned by Capello, simply terrible goalkeeping.

Capello was understandably sympathetic to Green as he addressed the media, but whether it extends to the moment when he writes out his next teamsheet is debatable. Green may find the mistake has finished his World Cup.

The error was unacceptable at this elite level, and many more levels besides, so if James is still struggling Hart should face Algeria.

Opposite number Tim Howard also offered consoling words as he told me: "As a goalkeeper I had mixed emotions about that moment. I was delighted we scored but that's never nice to see. There is nothing I can say or do to make Robert feel better.

"He made a really big save from Jozy Altidore and that showed his character. He is a top Premier League keeper and he has got broad shoulders. Life is like that as a keeper. You have to understand the criticism, the highs and lows, but he is top keeper and he will bounce back."

Capello's lack of a first-choice keeper was always a source of concern before the World Cup and it has been painfully underlined inside England's first game.

James Milner's inclusion was also a surprise, edging out Joe Cole despite suffering from illness this week. Like Capello's selection of Green, it was a failure.

Milner struggled along, out of sorts for 30 minutes, doing little to help Ashley Cole and was eventually hauled off. He was replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips, again a puzzling choice given Joe Cole's availability.

The choice of Milner ahead of Cole smacked of defensive thinking, with the focus more on subduing the excellent Landon Donovan as opposed to imposing England's will on a lively but limited United States team.

Capello's show of faith in Ledley King has come under serious examination, on fitness rather than footballing grounds. And all the old concerns came to the surface when he lasted only 45 minutes before suffering a groin injury.

He is already out of the Algeria game, and with Rio Ferdinand removed from the defensive equation, this is a worry for Capello and England.

So that made it three out three calls that went wrong for Capello. Proof, perhaps, that it can happen to the best of them and at least he has time to make amends.

As King departed, the lack of pace in England's central defence was brutally exposed as substitute Jamie Carragher was run ragged by Altidore, who saw his shot turned on to the post by Green.

England's rearguard is now pedestrian at its heart and it hard to see how Capello can remedy the flaw in South Africa. They will live in fear of teams with speed of thought and movement slicing through them should they reach the later stages.

Capello is too experienced to be panicked by events in Rustenburg on Saturday. And he will be right to maintain a measure of calm.

It would be easy to dismiss England's World Cup aspirations at this uninspiring first sight. It would also be foolish - although only the deluded would offer up this performance as evidence to support their claims.

There were some positives. Gerrard led by example, proof that he can carry the cares of captaincy while concentrating on his own game, while England also created enough chances to have won.

Emile Heskey's all-round performance showed his strengths, but his biggest weakness was also on display. Aston Villa's striker works hard, holds the ball up well and gladly takes all the weight off Wayne Rooney - but how long can England sustain a striker who does not score goals?

He cleverly set up Gerrard's goal, but when presented with a clear run on goal early in the second half - and the chance to restore England's advantage - he almost inevitably shot straight at Everton keeper Howard. The same old story.

Capello's optimistic post-match bulletin will have been shaped by the knowledge that Rooney and Frank Lampard will not remain as peripheral as they were here, while Gareth Barry's return will give England's central midfield the solid anchor he craves.

If only Capello would investigate the possibility that two talents as stellar as Rooney and Gerrard could make an attacking partnership work. The closer they are together, the more threatening England will surely be.

It would give England fluidity and allow Barry and Lampard to pair up in central midfield, reducing the temptation to bang the succession of aimless long balls that played into the United States' hands in the final stages of this game.

Capello, however, seems set against such a pattern and it would represent a seismic switch in his tactical thinking to experiment with it now.

Rooney cut a subdued figure, almost as if he was weighed down by the burden of strict discipline after he lost his cool against Platinum Stars on Monday. He must strike a delicate balance between having fire and ice in his veins - Rooney was too passive in Rustenburg and consequently his effectiveness was reduced.

If Rooney can do that and Capello - as he has done more often than not - makes the right moves, then this result can represent a false start as opposed to a longer-term problem.

ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS:

Robert Green: Desperate error for United States' goal. Hard to see him playing against Algeria. 3

Glen Johnson: Showed signs of his attacking quality, especially with one surge late in the first half. Can still be uncertain defensively. 6

Ashley Cole: Reliable as ever, despite receiving no help from James Milner. Might have done better going forward. 7

John Terry: Mixed bag. Solid defending but distribution occasionally poor. England hugely reliant on him now. 6

Ledley King: Looked uncomfortable at times and now on the sidelines injured again. 5

Aaron Lennon: Pacy but final ball too wayward. Did set up great chance which Emile Heskey missed. 6

Frank Lampard: Quiet night for Chelsea's midfield man. Struggled to make an impact and Fabio Capello will hope for a big improvement. 5

Steven Gerrard: MAN OF THE MATCH - England's captain led by example with an early goal and some razor-sharp tackling. Now push him forward Fabio. 8

James Milner: Looked off the pace after illness, failed to help Ashley Cole and picked up a booking. Off after only 30 minutes. 4

Emile Heskey: So much right about Heskey's performance. Made the goal and put himself about, but missed England's best chance in the second half. Needs goals to stay in the team - or at least he should. 6

Wayne Rooney: Quiet. Shot just off target after the break and set up a chance for Shaun Wright-Phillips, but nowhere near his best. 6.

SUBSTITUTES.

Shaun Wright-Phillips: Strange choice of replacement for Milner. Why not Joe Cole? Busy but wastes final ball too often. 5

Jamie Carragher: Was exposed for pace by Jozy Altidore and picked up a yellow card. 5

Peter Crouch: Brief cameo. Little chance to shine. 6

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Comments

Page 1 of 8

  • Comment number 1.

    Simply because he has a perennial frown, it doesnt mean Capello is the greatest tactician TM or the hard taskmaster that he is made out to be. He makes mistakes like anyone else. England played badly but you have a plum of a group. I am sure you will progress.

    On a side note,last night was surely Walcott's fault. He didnt create any chances at all. I know he wasnt on the pitch but that only goes to show how much he has stagnated under Wenger.

    If England dont progress, Walcott must shoulder all the blame.

  • Comment number 2.

    Agree in the most part, except to say I thought Glen Johnson was Englands best player, and deserved an 8.

    My man of the match was Tim Howard, made some very important stops especially in the 2nd half. If only he was English . . .

  • Comment number 3.

    i want to be positive and think that we can look after the ball, but i don't think we've ever been able to do it. everyone seemed to misplace passes - unbelievably frustrating.
    great stuff from aaron lennon, i thought we could have worked the ball to him in one-on-ones more, he always beat bocanegra and delivered some kind of cross, unlike SWP.
    Many peoples worst fear was realised seeing Carra and John Berry together in the heart of defence - what a comical sight!
    Out of our remaining centre backs, probably the least slow is Dawson but I can't see him getting a chance unfortunately. Sort out Ledleys abductor asap Doc Beasley!

  • Comment number 4.

    And of course, the English media condition comes to the fore once more. 24 hours ago, you were undeniably world champions. Now, after one 1-1 draw, you're all doomed, and it's the fault of him, him, and him over there. If it wasn't so predictable it'd be comical.

  • Comment number 5.

    Great blog Phil, I have been looking for someone that sums up my feelings after watching that last night, and you are spot on.. My only slight difference would be he made 4 decisions that back-fired in his selection.. I include Heskey in that. Yes, he battled hard (thats a given for me with Heskey anyhow) and he had a hand in the first goal.. but playing him as your furthest most forward striker presents massive problems. Firstly Rooney is forced to do most of his work in ineffective parts of the pitch (something Ferguson sorted out at Man Utd this year) and secondly more than 70% of the chances we create are going to fall to him. As he broke one on one yest I said openly to my Son.. "he wont score". Its the same old England, underperforming, over coached & handcuffed by poor team selection and tactics. Apart from banning wags, mobile phones & leaving the dinner table early what real differences are we seeing on the pitch for the vast sums of money we are paying our foreign coach ? Rob Green's error was dreadful but when you only set up to win games by the odd goal you will always leave players on a knife edge with every defensive error of chance missed being so crucial, adding to the overal pressure. Its certainly not over, our best 11/13 players can give any team in the world a game !! My team for Cape Town (and I am going down there for it).. Hart/James, Johnson, Carragher, Terry, A.Cole, J.Cole, Barry, Lampard, Lennon, Gerrard, Rooney. Key subs. Upson, Dawson, Millner, Carrick, Defoe, Crouch

  • Comment number 6.

    Now when King is out, for how many more matches can Heskey stay? I always doubted Capello's team selection where experience was preferred over current form.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'd like to stand up for Green. A performance rating of 3 is too harsh, given that he also made a fine save in the match. The reason there is no number one keeper is that none of them are outstanding. The Premier League has players of world quality, but most of them are not English. None of the top four have an English keeper.

    Like most watchers of England down the years, I scratch my head and wonder why we cannot take the energetic English game we play at Premier League level into the international arena, where we are ponderous and unimaginative. This is not new, it goes back to the days of Ron Greenwood!

  • Comment number 8.

    David James's nick name of Calamity James exists for a reason, and to say that Green, in his previous England appearances had given us clues that he was to make such a howler would be incorrect.

    And if we had started with Hart and he had made the mistake, then we would have had everyone complaining that he was too inexperienced. You can't blame Capello for this one, it is just one of these things!

    We already know our central defence lacks pace,we don't need Ledley King getting injured to tell us that, so wake up Phil, we just have to live with this fact, we don't have any good enough CB's in England with pace!

    It should be obvious why SWP was chosen ahead of Joe Cole to play on the left in place of Milner. Namely that the USA had a RB full of pace and he would have absolutely roasted Joe Cole, who let us not forget as had an ordinary season for Chelsea playing on the right side. When SWP came on that was the last we saw of the USA RB as an attacking force, so it was the right decision, although starting with Milner in the first place clearly wasn't.

    And tha Lampard/Gerrard partnership worked pretty well. One of them had to play the defensive role and that was mainly Lampard, if you play that role in a game then you are rarely going to catch the eye of the media, eg Makalele, but you play a vital role and that is what Lampard did.

    And you keep going on and on about playing Gerrard in an advanced position to support Rooney as the lone striker, and ignore the fact that we can't play that way unless we have Garteh Barry fit an available.

    The performance was not bad last night, better than anything we did in Germany 4 years ago, we should have won the game with the chances we had, and that is the main worry, not the performance.

  • Comment number 9.

    The pace question has been brought up several times regarding our defense. Hopefully Capello can look straight to Dawson. Hes an outstanding defender and Im sure is going to become one of our mainstays at the back over the next few years. Now is his chance to prove he has the international pedigree.

    Was also frustrated how long it took for him to try Crouch. Yes heskey holds the balls well but we cannot have a non scoring striker on the pitch... Crouch can hold the ball, deliver headers back across the box and score... theres no contest. (Although I would be interested to see gerrard and rooney up front like some, I think Gerrard when he got back to defend made some vital tackles so I'm not sure I want him too far up the pitch.) Gerrard was our star of the match, even if he hadnt scored a goal.

  • Comment number 10.

    Despite Heskeys relatively OK performance, you should have heard the cheers in Notts town square when he was hauled off..he doesn't score goals! What's the point of a striker if he doesn't score goals?!

  • Comment number 11.

    Frank Lampard is a beast week in week out for Chelsea but he never really turned up for the last World Cup. Hope last night wasn't a sign of things to come, thought he looked tame again.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hard to talk about the England goal I was watching on ITV1 HD !!.

    For all his hard talk about players in form , playing regularly, and being match fit, Capello has broken all his own rules, and now it has come back and bit him hard.

    Despite his amazing CV perhaps we should remember that this is his first managerial experience of major International football finals.

    Still were not out yet, we're unbeaten, and there still is time for Capello realise that this England at major finals and that our tournament is not complete without injuries, under performances,and strange team selections. All thats left is a few poor decisions from the officals against us, and a penalty shoot out!

  • Comment number 13.

    Blimey Phil your glass is definitely half empty this World Cup - seriously most of your reports are like you have lost a tenner and found a fiver.

    OK, a draw is not what we wanted, but other than Green's obvious mistake I thought we played a lot better than we had done recently. I would say it was the best game of the tournament so far and I am optimistic about our chances in the next two games.

    I know you hate Heskey so nothing is ever going to change your mind about him, but I think he deserves more than a 6. His hold up play was excellent and as a focul point for England attacks he was causing the US a lot of problems. Your continual snidey nips at Heskey are getting rather tedious now.

    Lennon showed a lot of promise down the right, but I thought he could have run at the defenders a lot more than he did - the couple of times he did, it was to great effect. Too often though he chose to come inside to an already crowded area.

    Defensively we were a bit exposed as Terry and Carragher didn't have the pace to deal with counter attacks, but that's often been a failing with England defences.

    Overall, it was not the usual below par performance that we usually start a Championship with but a draw is not a disaster yet.

    The biggest disappointment was missing the Gerrard goal due to ITV Digital showing me an advert for Hyundi instead and then switching to standard definition for the majority of the game. Wouldn't happen on the beeb!!

    Can't wait for the next game now! Phil, have a beer, cheer up and try not to sound like Victor Meldrew in every report.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    A managers choices are only as good as the players he has available. Unfortunately regardless of what so many England supporters are saying, we do not have the quality players we need in all positions.

    The players we have are overpaid premaddonas. They get paid the equivalent of 10 years wages per week (no I don't get paid a lot). If I made so many basic mistakes in my work as they made last night, I would be fired.

    Just because England won the world cup once, the English believe we have a god given right to win it all the time. We must allow our player to develop the skills needed to do the business, and make them earn realistic wages o they don't become too enamored by their own image.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Peronally, I thughCapelo seemed to have prett decent gameplan. USA was never going to be an easy game, but I felt England were the better side. A silly and clumsy error cost England and that's about it....

  • Comment number 18.

    Gerrard is the leader England have needed these last couple years. It is destiny that he doing what he was supposed to. He is a natural-born and England have a chance if they can free him. The team should be built around him.

  • Comment number 19.

    Phil, I am extremely frustrated by this blog.

    Why do people like you continue to berate Heskey, when by all accounts, and this even includes many of the tabloids, he was excellent. Certainly better than Rooney, yet you constantly fine the negatives. Why must you make such a huge deal of of the miss, when SWP and Lennon (when he should have shot) missed just as good chances. On the brief comments you make on another page, all we get is this 'same old Heskey' nonsense, when you totally ignore the brilliance of his game - could you be more biased?

    And we didn't play too badly, creating a lot, yet now everyone says we're rubbish. It's a joke how negative you lot are. Get real, and realise we have good players, played well, and can definitely get to the semis.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Not only disappointing performance but a real worry for future games and we are no clearer on a team that might beat the world. In this report the inconsistencies and contradictions of the English team are cruelly exposed

    You said you preferred Gerrard behind Rooney but said Heskey deserved to keep his place. You said Robert Green is likely to keep his place, yet you said the mistake may cost him his place. You identified James injury and Hart's lack of experience as well as lack of pace without King, who is one of a number of players carrying injuries.

    Why Capello didn't pick Joe Cole and Upson is a mystery, especially as others have clearly shown they aren't good enough against an average USA side. Also worrying is the Rooney has shown he is no Messi and at the moment his reputation is mainly based on hype.

  • Comment number 23.

    You're milking this a bit Phil. If RG had done what I was able to do in the park at the age of 4 and comfortably picked up a trickler one handed, there's a fair chance we would have picked them off as they searched for the equaliser, won comfortably, and we'd all have been saying it was satisfactory for exactly the same performance. Especially in the first half, the USA had spells and chances, but ours far outweighed the team who beat your darlings Spain last year in the Confederations Cup and who were leading Brazil 2-0 in the final. England were the better team last night against opposition I don't think we're giving enough credit to based on historical perceptions rather than contemporary realities.

    I agree RG looks nervous and am worried there are more howlers in the locker so it'll be interesting who's GK next game. The reason we didn't score more last night was as you say because of the lack of composure of EH, AL and SWP in front of goal. We always knew these are the weak parts of their games and that whether they convert or not is hit and miss. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. It's not ideal, but it's arguably the best we've got. On the other hand, I thought EH showed why he's in the team last night, and we looked the more likely team when SWP came on. I thought Glen Johnson had a great game. I was disappointed with WR, JM and FL, and Jamie Carragher looked a liability at the back.

    What do you think of the pitches and how the balls are behaving? The balls are flying the length of the pitch at times, and bouncing high and at speed. I can see a ball bouncing over a keeper's head at some stage, hopefully not the England keeper!

  • Comment number 24.

    We started with a 1-1 in 1990 and reached the semis. Italy drew 1-1 with USA in the group stage of 2006 which they won. We have an Italian manager and Italians are known to start slowly and then improve throughout the tournament. Does that give you hope? Snap out of it - we had an easy route to the semis in 1990 (and even then we were lucky to beat Cameroon in QF thanks to Lineker falling over twice) and we certainly don't have the strong, cynical mentality of the Italians. Capello can only use what is at his disposal and I'm afraid its not good enough.

  • Comment number 25.

    If Green had not made that mistake, would we not be talking about a solid 1-0 win against a team ranked 14th in the world, where we had created enough chances to have won the game 3-0, and with headlines in the press saying that we are going to win the World Cup?

  • Comment number 26.

    Enjoying that Knife sharpening ?


    The USA game was always going to be tough, some of the UK press seemed to think it was a easy 74 - 0 win and in turn the dopey car flag "fans" thought it would be easy, not giving any thought to the fact that the only team to beat Spain in 40 odd games were the US.

    Anyways, if it were not for a absolute howler we would have won the game, I am gutted but I would rather have a shocker in the opening game than later on, and a draw against the states is not the worse result in the world anyway.

  • Comment number 27.

    Why we don't have a really good goalie is because we have too many foreign players, including goalkeepers, playing premier league football. name the top ten keepers in the league and just about all of them are foreign. Added to all the previous comments my feeling is we have no flair and play cumbersome type soccer; sometimes it works but at this level I doubt it will. Compare Englands game with that of Argentina; even South Korea & Soputh Africa were more entertaining. Bye bye world cup for another 4yrs at least.

  • Comment number 28.

    To suggest that Rob Green should lose his place as a result of that one mistake is completely ridiculous. I'm not a Rob Green fan, but I know that that could have happened to anyone. Would you believe that Banks, Shilton, any world class 'keeper you dare to mention could easily have had the same experience. And I'm not suggesting the ball was to blame either. It was a mistake, and there were loads of those last night. The thing with being a 'keeper is that you are willing to take the risk of your mistake costing the game.
    England should have scored three. Every time a team goes on the pitch it should aim to score at least three goals to counter any mistakes. They only scored one and that is more the cause of the result than Rob Green.
    Faltering start, but a pretty good performance. We will qualify for the 2nd round, hopefully still 1st in the group.
    Bandwaggon journalism like this, however, should be dropped for the next game...

  • Comment number 29.

    Absolute tripe from tbe Manager to the last substitute. Even poor of Psycho looked subdued on the bench - he'd have been better off at right back!
    These guys are on £100k + per week and the manager on £6m pa.
    Where were the passing skills?e the shooting skills? the pressure? And fro Capello, where was the strategy? Ask yourself- what was the plan for this game - a game against a Championship quality side?
    Above all, where was the leadership?
    After the goal Gerrard was largely muted. The supposed great leader John Terry struggled; Jamie Carragher was miles off the pace and lucky to stay on the pitch. Lampard was perhaps the most invisible and ineffectual of all.
    James Milner is clearly unfit and Ledley King was crocked before he started - we all knew that so no surprise then that he left at half time.
    Lennon ran past his full back once in the whole game and Wright Philips not at all.
    Emile Heskey tried hard to get things going but .....
    We'll be lucky to make it out of the group stage if this is the best we can do.

  • Comment number 30.

    Big mistakes by Capello and two of the players:

    Green:
    How can the goalkeeper with the most unforced erros in the premier League be England No.1

    Milner:
    Clearly not fit. Did he selfishly pass himself fit or did Capello take the gamble himself

    King:
    Another fitness gamble that didn't come off

    Gerrard/Lampard:

    These guys have never done the business together because their natural style of play is too similar and when one is required to change this leads to a poor performance from them and the team. Each seems to resent having to make this change which is why there never seems to be a great rapport between them on the pitch.




  • Comment number 31.

    Gerrard looked interested for the first time this year, and he excelled. Aaron Lennon had an open goal and decided to try to squeeze the ball between a couple of players to get to Rooney instead of trying to beat just Tim Howard. Admittedly it would have been an angled shot, but Walcott has scored it all season. Obviously it will be upto five or six players to win for England, as the others are too scared to commit or too slow in defense. Good Luck to:

    Gerrard
    Lampard
    Rooney
    G. Johnson
    J. or A. Cole

    The defense is too slow, and the faster guys AL and SWP well that is all they canm do RUN. so what?

  • Comment number 32.

    Phil Mcnulty is right.Good article! I would add England has a mental problem with composure and also a weird combo of haughty pride or self loathing, neither of which are a winning recipe.
    I think a bit of invention and flare and an ability to throw the rulebook out would help a bit too. Its old news, a left footed striker wrong foots central defenders comprendo, so Johnson or Ashley Cole upfront, end story. If you don't believe me rewatch South Africa's first goal!
    Regarding defense, you only need two defenders both should believe the best defense is attack(NB!), they should be dispossessor's that can pass long range passes well and should NOT run back, as Carragher Terry and company did it would have been better to have Carrick in that position, better passer, tackler and more importantly forward minded. Four negative minded backtracking defenders will not inspire a goalie.
    As for Rooney going with the best Defense is attack play him as a sweeper, he loves assists and actually is more dangerous deeper in the field where he seems to naturally gravitate to.
    A coach needs to look at his team and creatively assess how he can best utilise what he has, this was sadly lacking last night despite good opportunities and an early lead, if its a goal to the opposition and ten minutes from final whistle what then? That is where Capello needs a miracle how with so much expectation can he instil composure.

  • Comment number 33.

    Lampard in open play has a fairly good game, but why does he take corners and free kicks? I watch him week in and week out do it for Chelsea, and he isn't any good at taking them!

  • Comment number 34.

    You're sounding a bit like alan green here! Just waiting for Capello to fall flat on his italian face after building him up as the Master coach. I'm surprised no England manager has committed suicide yet. Forget the money, that job is POISON.

  • Comment number 35.

    I take a look at the defenders in Capello's squad and cannot help asking, what has Sulzeer Jeremiah Campbell done to him to not deserve any consideration? Did he insult the Italian in some way?

    I admire Post No.12's points about how Capello stated clearly that to be considered players but be fit and in form. I'll be slated for this I know, but ever since rejoining the Gunners Campbell was magnificent. He provided leadership and desire to the Arsenal team, best exhibited by his terrific overlapping run to outsprint Gareth Bale at Tottenham. He still had the ability and ox-like aerial strength, and you cannot discount a man who has the experience of not 1, 2, 3, 4, or even 5, but SIX major tournaments for England. Not only was he fit and in form, but the desire he showed to get himself back among the elite after the problems at Notts County was worthy of praise, and I might add that Capello himself saw how he dismantled the threat of Carlos Tevez when Manchester City came to Ashburton Grove! Yes Capello, as Post No.12 says, broke his own rules by going in for two centre-backs with injury problems, and he even went for a guy in Jamie Carragher whose own lack of patriotism is beyond doubt and who looked slow and ordinary against he USA. Campbell should at least have been in the preliminary squad, but Capello's short-sighted nature meant that he didn't get picked, and now with no Ferdinand and No King for Algeria, his judgement calls have indeed come back to bite him. I'd rate his selections only marginally better than those of Diego Maradona with Argentina!

    I'm not watching any of the matches this time around but reading about them in the papers, and while I'd never do sensationalism, I think a little page from the Italian media's book here is appropriate. Don Fabio, if you don't make even the quarter-finals with this motley bunch, act like a gentleman and resign!! :)

  • Comment number 36.

    England has to have a keeper moment at the cup that costs them a win. I'd say be glad its over and let it be. Anyway the first game is completely different from the rest.
    There was more than enough for England to take away from the last game. The team that peaks at the right time is going to win and England is still in the mix.

  • Comment number 37.

    Decent enough match-report, but Glen Johnson was head and shoulders England's best player.

  • Comment number 38.

    I suppose the fans can only hope that England follow the pattern of previous winners and start a little slow but build and build throughout the tournament. Can't see that they'll win it though. It appeared that they were all a little jaded or something last night. Not quite up for it perhaps? Out of sorts? And why oh why can't they hang on to the ball? It's as if there is the voice of Don Howe in their head shouting "Get rid of it!", "Long ball!"
    I'm not English, but not ABE either (I reserve that for the rugby :-D), I'd like to see them do well. I'd also like the media to calm down a bit and get realistic for a change.
    I think if you are going to pick Emile 'fallenoveragain' Heskey and Shaun runs-Wright-down-a-cul-de-sac-again-Phillips over Darren Bent (his form was damn good last season) and (pains me to say it as a Spurs fan) Theo Walcott - a little rusty but his pace would be enough to frighten the opposition - then prepare for it to be "48 years of hurt" by the time the next WC rolls around.
    However, I am optimistic of being proved incorrect come this time next month.
    Can't wait to see Spain's first match.

  • Comment number 39.

    Green, has an OK game, except for a silly error, makes some good saves, get marked 3.

    Heskey, has an OK game, provides a goal, is unable to finish a simple 1 on 1 situation, get marked 6.

    to me, Heskeys howler is just as bad as Green's. Yes you expect a keeper to stop that ball, but you also expect a striker to put away that 1 on 1, or at least make the keeper work for the save...... Add that to the fact that all three cautions were received for silly (if not outright stupid) challenges, and you have a /team/ performance that is below par.

    So lets crucify Green, after all, we need a scapegoat, ant it ain't going to be the absent strikers....

  • Comment number 40.

    The lack of both pace and also fit personnel in the England defence is a problem. However the deployment of Barry as a deep lying holding midfielder (much the same position in which Mascherano played in for Argentina) would in my view be the answer by adding the necessary cover.

    This would also have the added benefit of allowing Capello to play an attack minded midfield four of Gerrard, Lampard, Lennon and Joe Cole with Rooney operating as a lone striker. England were unable to keep possession for any length of time and the extra man alternating between defence and midfield would add a bit of stabilty to an England team who were at times exposed by a very ordinary USA side.

    Heskey, as well as he played, puts too much pressure on others to make up for his basic inability to score goals. IMHO he should never have been in the final 23.

  • Comment number 41.

    Excuse me, BLAME THE KEEPER??? Just what were the other TEN men doing by allowing that ball to get anywhere near the goal posts in the first place. A World Class team? Clearly NOT!

  • Comment number 42.

    After watching several World Cup's it never fails to amaze me just how repeatable it all gets.

    First there is the extreme build up in the weeks leading up to the WC. All the talk about how England are in amongst the favorites and that this is surly there year. Now I am English and of course I want my team to win the WC but I am also realistic. It's like saying that Blackburn haven't won the Premiership for years and years but this season will be different. I know England had a good qualifying but it was hardly a tough group and they did what was expected of them.

    Then the tournament starts and its more of the same still. First group game and England start slowly. We always do. Then the press (who have to take a lot of the blame for this) get on their backs and suddenly England are crap and the manager should be fired, the team should be fired, etc. Crazy!

    Then there are specific player performances. The anti Heskey thing doesn't make sense. At least he got an assist and worked his socks off. How about Rooney going AWOL? Now I can't blame the lad as the press (and everyone else) have basically said that England = Rooney. Nothing like putting pressure on him! Lampard yet again going AWOL but stays on the pitch.

    Then there is the problem in left midfield. Always a problem for England for as long as I can remember yet we left a pretty good left footed midfielder out of the squad (Johnson). Why bring on SWP for Milner? Made no sense. Why start Milner when he was obviously sick? Why call up Carragher and leave behind other good (and better) options. Am not a fan of Carragher and he will give away a penalty, get sent off or something.

    Now what will happen is we will qualify from the group (1st spot not guaranteed though) and make it to the second round and probably the QF's. However, as soon as we get one of the better teams it will be tight, we will show spirit but probably come up short. Then the press engine will start again, Capello will move on, everyone will be down and ask themselves why they keep doing it to themselves...until Euro 2012!

    Argentina looked good last night and the best team so far. With other teams like Spain, Brazil, Holland, etc still to play it hopefully people will start to be sensible and recognise that England are not amongst the favorites, we don't have enough depth in the squad, we will give it a go but getting to the QF's should NOT be seen as a failure.

    Now come on England and beat Algeria 5-0 ;-)

  • Comment number 43.

    I agree with #25. To a large extent that England were 1 mistake away from a good start, and positive reports.

    However, Fabio did make some howlers....two players, known to be suspect, off by half time...SWP on instead of Joe Cole (unless, JC injured...not a better call, if so)...SWP on the left...a green keeper in goal...If DJ is injured, why in SA with several other crocks?....if not, is Green actually No. 1?

    So 3 major errors.....am getting Sven like flashbacks of match day tactical inadequacy aligned to selection mistakes...

    However, I remember some slow starts ('86 for e.g.) that soon got going.

    And Gerrard was good. Heskey did his job (tho' Rooney has to get further forward to maximise), and I really like Glen Johnson's runs forward.

    Go England! (but please do better)

  • Comment number 44.

    Well Heskey had agood game but as 99.9% of England know when he is one-on-one he will miss,strikers are supposed to put the ball in the back of the net I presume Capello knows this also, so it is perverse picking him. Also as 99.9% of English fans know Lennon and SWP will not put in good crosses or score goals. It is plain stupidity not to have goal scorers on the pitch, Cole should have been there and Defoe (and particularly Bent if he had been selected) would have bulged the net with Heskey's chance the same with Lennon when he bottled his shot ans SWP when he missed a one-on-one also, I presume Capello knows this also, yet more perversity. As for picking Leadley (dodgy knees) King to start, does he not know about the lads injury problems and I understand Milber had been ill before the game so was off the pace.
    So Mr Capello about 5 poor calls for the team before it started, a well as the mistake of leaving Walcott and Bent at home. All of which is so very obvious is it not!

  • Comment number 45.

    Very disappointed with the team reaction to the goal. We should have been thinking that we'll just have to work a bit harder to get a 2nd! We surely must have believed we'd create other good chances. Unfortunately for all of us we only created one clear chance that fell to Heskey and god bless him he missed (as usual).
    BUT my major observation is how on god's green earth can Wright Philips be playing for England. He can hardly control a ball, has no final delivery, can't beat a player, it's no wonder he can't get in to Man City's first team. Last night he was woeful and an embarrassment to have in the team. He gave no attacking option on the left at all at any time in his time on the pitch and lost possession almost every time he received it.
    Rant over.

  • Comment number 46.

    14. At 08:05am on 13 Jun 2010, Gordon wrote:
    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,ha, ha, ha, ha,ha, ha, ha, ha,

    20. At 08:12am on 13 Jun 2010, Gordon wrote:
    Three Lions! Three Donkeys more like
    ___________________________________________________________________

    Not sure what you get out of posting puerile stuff like this but it just goes to show that some posters who are parochial in their mindset have, through wishful thinking alone, eliminated England from the World Cup already. I wonder which home country Gordon hails. How's your team doing Gordon?
    ;)

  • Comment number 47.

    The result was undoubtedly disappointing, but the performance was only 'poor' if your expectations were too high in the first place. If Fabio was going to experiment - which, I think, he had to - then this wasn't the worst game to choose.

    There were some good individual performances - Heskey played extremely well (apart from wasting a gold-plated scoring opportunity), Glen Johnson impressed me, and Aaron Lennon's pace was an asset. I would like to have seen Joe Cole on the left, as, between them, Lennon and Cole could have really stretched the American defence. Rooney was strangely subdued, but apparently he has been playing on regular pain-killing jabs before each game since Christmas.

    As is so often the case before major tournaments, the press has over-hyped England's chances. There are some great players in this team, but there are some glaring weaknesses. Unusually for the country which produced Banks and Shilton, England does not have a world-class keeper, but the biggest worry is the lack of pace at the centre of the defence. If England were to defend like that against the likes of Torres, Villa or Messi then the result would be painful. The manager can only work with what he has.

    On the plus side, Lampard and Gerrard are obviously world class, Lennon and Cole provide attacking width, and Rooney may recover his form. And Capello is a master tactician. This isn't a World Cup winning line-up, but it's a respectable team.

  • Comment number 48.

    As I said before the tournament started, Capello has picked too many injured and out of form players but then he didn't really have much option as he wasn't really blessed with a large selection pool.

    My own thoughts on each players performance:

    Robert Green: made one mistake which allowed the goal but apart from that was pretty solid. He is a better goalkeeper than David James and more experienced than Joe Hart so I see no reason to complain about his inclusion

    Glen Johnson: looks good going forward but is just not a good enough defender at international level

    Ashley Cole: off field problems have affected his performance and he hasn't gained full fitness from his early season injury

    John Terry: as with Ashley Cole, off field problems have affected his performance. He also looks pretty slow against quick forwards

    Ledley King: again pretty slow and as predicted got injured very early on in the campaign

    Aaron Lennon: just not good enough at this level. Has the same perceived faults as Theo Walcott but got picked instead. Strange choice.

    Frank Lampard: just doesn't seem to perform in the World Cup. Don't know why - could be the Gerrard/Lampard conundrum

    Steven Gerrard: great that he scored the goal but often runs around like a headless chicken when England are not in possession. Didn't close down the USA scorer

    James Milner: just not good enough at this level whether fit or not

    Emile Heskey: made the goal but his failure to take his own scoring chances has cost England dearly again. And why oh why can he not keep onside?

    Wayne Rooney: the man is our best player but is obviously still not fit and is woefully our of form. Thank you very much Sir Alex Ferguson!

    SUBSTITUTES.

    Shaun Wright-Phillips: should never have been picked in the first place as he is just not good enough. Can't take on or beat a player so always runs down a dead end

    Jamie Carragher: too old and too slow. Should have stayed in retirement from international duty

    Peter Crouch: He is the tallest footballer I know who can't head a ball. It's a good job that he is paired up with Aaron Lennon as he can't cross one so it doesn't matter

    In conclusion, as England regularly fail to keep a clean sheet in any game they play, the last 16 is the very best that they will achieve in this World Cup.

  • Comment number 49.

    I Phil, am from Uganda and am a great admirer of all your articles, and Ugandans are great fans of the premiership. Pertaining to England's perfomance and indeed their participation in the tornament, i get the feeling that too much faith and hope is laid in Capello the manager without a critical examination of the players at his disposal. A also think that the British press has been too lenient with the Manager compared to his predecessors, much as the team has not been really perfoming to expectations, although they were grounding out results. In my view, Joe Hart should have started in goal and i expressed my fears about putting a goal keeper from a team which was almost relagated for England's games. If Hart can not be granted the opportunity to get the experience from teams like USA, Algeria, Slovenia, when will he ever get it?? All the same i vouch for England's success and i think the Kampala fans are looking forward to their premiership stars being victorious.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    No. 23 Jap Robin
    I note you posted that England looked better when SWP came on. I am astounded, can you provide a single piece of evidence to back that statement up maybe an instance of SWP getting a cross in, having a shot, controlling ball properly or stopping it from rolling out of play when in his possession?
    Milner was off that was clear but SWP should be embarrassed.

  • Comment number 52.

    "The Premier League has players of world quality, but most of them are not English. None of the top four have an English keeper."

    ----------------

    Wasn't Joe Hart the premiership keeper with the best record last season? I understand that he is inexperienced, but of the 3 keepers he's been the most consistent. You only had to look at Green before the match yesterday to see how much the pressure was affecting him, he looked terrified. Time to give Hart a chance.

  • Comment number 53.

    Good blog and I largely agree with what you say. I really don't think that Rooney and Gerrard would work well up front together though. Like it or not England play so much football in the air (particularly now with Carragher at the back), not having Heskey or Crouch on to start means we will be constantly chasing games.

  • Comment number 54.

    England have not become duds after a game and they were not they world beaters either. Likewise Capello is not a messiah but a very good manager.

    Green made a mistake and that is it. A 1-0 scoreline would have been treated as 'job done' as it is the first game. Just because it is 1-1 does not mean everyone has a go at the team/manager/ground/bus/traffic/sun/moon etc. Get a perspective.

    Capello can only use what he has got and once out of the group stages anything can happen. England are not the favourites by a long way but neither were Italy in 2006.

  • Comment number 55.

    Great blog Phil, yours as always is the first i look for, for a balanced view of last nights events; but on this occasion i have to disagree a little.

    The performance of the team was in my opinion a vast improvement on previous showings in the recent games, we were controlled, strong and efficient and more than deserved to win the game - a fact the stats will support.

    We failed to win because of a clear cutting edge, the finishing for which i for one blame on the rather toothless performance of the wingers in this instance, AL and SWP displayed nothing more than a fleet of foot and for me are nothing more than players to slot in against weaker sides in the latter stages of gane.

    FC's main failure in this case for me is the unwillingness to play to the players strengths and play a 4-5-1 - we have a world class midfield to support our only world class striker, we need to utilise that more - despite what i have to admit was a good performnce from Heskey. I once remember the special one talking about Ferrera as his 'consistent 7' - and for me the same applies about Emile, we know what he brings to the team but it not something with which we will win many games, and his lack of goals has to make him only a squad member.

    Fair play to Green, was impressed with his interview and the man; his mistake was a bad one, but his save later on was world class, so i think to lay any blame would be rather shallow. I am a Joe Hart supporter, he's young, confident and in the other two has great lessons to learn from; so for me the sooner he is 'made' the regular keeper the better.

    All in all a good performance with a result i am not surprised by, a good springboard from which to progress, and perhaps a lesson learnt

    My team for the next game (injuries permitting)

    Hart, Cole, Terry, King (likely to be Carragher now), Johnson, Cole, Gerrard, Barry, Lampard, Milner & Rooney.

    Semi's are still beckoning and last night hs done nothing to suggest we will not make them.

  • Comment number 56.

    Heskey gets plaudits for getting the basics right, but I see players do that in League 1 every week, we can't afford to miss simple chances in a world cup - we won't get enough of them. Overall not a terrible performance against a decent side. We need a bit of luck and we'll be ok

  • Comment number 57.

    Yet another evening of anti-climatic and rollarcoaster football by the national side...after one game it's clear we struggle to pass, have a dodgy goalie, a left midfielder who is sick, two of the slowest centre halfs in world football and useless smiling SWP.. wait till we play a half decent side, they will play through our midfield like a hot knife through butter if we stick with the Lampard/Gerrard combo....

  • Comment number 58.

    I didnt feel at any point that we were in control - and we all saw Argentina give a display on how to hold onto the ball at the end of their game. Why do I feel we couldnt even be able to do that in training?

    Though its not the end of the world, some of Capello's decisions astounded me so lets get back to how WE and NOT the Italians play football.

    Dawson into the back four, Cole on the left, and lets play English 442 properly. So ..... we not not reach the final but lets go out fighting playing properly.

  • Comment number 59.

    What a fickle bunch you English are... it is quite astonishing really.

    Had that goal not gone in, you would have called it a 'solid' 1-0 win. The real point here is that very few people understand to a satisfactory degree the intricacies of what goes on on a football pitch, but this does not stop people from spewing rubbish all the same.

    I actually thought England played quite well in the face of the stern US defense, and were unlucky not to get two more. But you can go ahead and put down your team if you like.

  • Comment number 60.

    Regards Lennon : If he had taken that shot and missed or had it saved, then everyone would be complaining he should have squared it to the open rooney as it would have been as easy goal. He did the right thing. Lennon put in heskey with that perfectly weighted pass. He delivered several balls into the box that should have been put away, heck even gerrard missed one on that one two with him. Lennon doesnt need to run past his defender all the time because he can deliver the ball now.

    On Heskey : Sorry but at international level you cannot, on a ball delivered to you perfectly, and under no pressure from a defender, shoot the ball straight into a goalkeepers arms. The goalkeeper would have been hard pressed to get out of the way of that ball if he tried.

    On Rooney : He had a great game. Just people didnt see it. He was winning free kicks, taking some shots, getting the ball back in the box. His ability was somewhat tempered by the lack of a goal poacher being on the pitch (lennon had the same issue). Oh for the likes of Lineker or Shearer in that game they probably would have had a hat-trick. Defoe can do that job and when in form can poach goals all day long but even as a spurs fan I'm failing to see his value when hes not poaching a goal. Crouch I think has the slightly upper hand in this respect he can poach (not as well as defoe) but he can also hold up the ball and deliver balls to other players in the box (all be it with his head)

    Crouch to start the next game :)

    and the keeper, well hes had his blunder. They all have one, at least it was now and not during a knockout. His previous form and saves have been very good I dont think we should write him off just yet.

  • Comment number 61.

    England's downfall is going to be the footballing culture. It's still in the dark ages. It seems as if the English players are not tactically adept. More English players have to consider playing in Italy or Spain.

  • Comment number 62.

    Phil's assessment of the game and Capello's decisions is spot on. We mustn't allow the horrendous gaff by Green to mask the fact that it was a poor team performance. England scored after five minutes ... but by ten minutes the US were in control of the midfield, and were winning every loose ball. Why? Because (and I thought this was no longer a matter of debate) Gerrard and Lampard cannot play as a centre-midfield pairing in a 4-4-2 formation. Lampard simply does not do enough work to make that work. He is a great player in his own right, and when given enough support around him, but he makes probably two or three dangerous runs into the box a game, doesn't tackle and doesn't cover. He bearly gets out of 'languid' gear for much of the game.
    I agree that Milner was a strange choice (given the virus he had, which much have sapped his energy), as for Sean Wright-Phillips ... he gave a performance that said "Why wasn't Adam Johnson picked instead of me?" Carragher has a reasonable defensive brain, but he is slow, and can't distribute the ball. There were times when he should have released Johnson or Lennon but preferred either to hoof it upfield (abrogating responsibility) or to play it either to Terry or back to Green. He obviously doesn't trust his own ability to be able to pass accurately.
    Heskey (apart from his glaring miss) did everything that was asked of him as a target man ... but that simply is not enough at this level. The argument for his inclusion is that it brings out the best in Rooney, and yet Rooney looked lost for most of the game.
    Capello needs to swallow his pride and play the 4-5-1 (or 4-4-1-1) pattern everyone is calling for, with Gerrard behind Rooney. Gerrard will still track back and do his share of tackling in midfield to compensate for the lazy Lampard. Behind him: Lennon, Lampard, Barry and Joe Cole.

  • Comment number 63.

    Green - awful, but we've had an average of one goalkeeping howler a year for a decade now. Basically, Englishmen no longer know how to keep goal - they don't know the basics of the job.

    King - ridiculous to choose a 30-year-old with 10 caps, the last 3 years earlier, when he's so unfit he can hardly train or play 2 consecutive matches. At best he was always going to be a benchwarmer - starting with him was just making an injury a certainty. Replaced by Carragher, another over-the-hill, never-that-great player who lacks the sophistication for this level.

    Gerrard - played well... for himself. Was constantly 20-30 yards out of position. As holding midfielder, got much too far forward, leaving a hole in the centre for the US to control and for our defenders to hoof long and hopeless "passes" over. Has proved in the last 10 years that he doesn't have the tactical discipline and intelligence to play in this position, and never should again.

    Milner - lucky not to be sent off - his first assault didn't get a yellow, and he hardly touched the ball. A disastrous selection, or a good selection but a disastrous performance. Far worse than Green.

    Wright-Phillips - absolutely the wrong man to bring on. Contributed nothing either going forward or back, and so continued what he has "brought" to England in the last 6 years. His presence in the squad ahead of the wayward but intermittently brilliant Walcott was a colossal error of judgement by Capello.

    To most of these problems the answers are clear. Play Upson alongside Terry. Play a real holding midfielder, someone who knows what the job entails. If Barry's injured (and we need an enquiry as to why Capello brought so many injured players), then Carrick is the only choice. In front of him, Gerrard-Lampard-Lennon-Cole-Rooney is probably the best, or perhaps Heskey in place of Cole. As for the goalkeeping issue, we don't have anyone better than that - we just don't have an international quality keeper.

  • Comment number 64.

    59. At 09:01am on 13 Jun 2010, waldovski wrote:
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I totally agree with you, although we do have a central defence problem in that we lack pace, and that is a worry!

  • Comment number 65.

    Story of the game:

    England saw a horny girl in the first 5 minutes of the disco and pulled.

    Didn't buy her a drink, talk to her before asking 'when can we meet again?'

    Went and sniggered to his mates telling 'em all about the horny girl he'd pulled.

    Kept telling 'em for the next half an hour.

    By which time she'd danced with someone else.

    And he was left with egg on his face.

    Moral of the story: pulling the girl's not the time for self-congratulation.

    It's the time to build on the initial success to cement the opportunity.

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    TBH I have long been of the view we have lived a collective delusion since Capello arrived. It seems to me none of the problems the England team had after Croatia have been successfully dealt with and yet we have the most expensively paid international rookie manager in history. It comes to something when we play someone of Green's standard in an opening World Cup game, when we have a RB who can't defend, when we lose 2 central defenders before HT of the first game, when we sub players for getting booking (and play the same player despite him missing the previous 3 days training), when we have Manchester City reserves getting 40+ caps and Aston Villa reserves getting 60+ (Heskey, getting praise for doing what Sunday morning players can do), when the best goalscorer isn't interested in the game, when the midfield pairing can't play there A game, when the speedy winger doesn't get on decent cross in(and on and on and on).

    Exactly when is different 2 years on I fail to see but worse than that is the Gerrard situation. For some reason a goal seems to have blinded a lot of people to the truth he isn't the player he once was, he has no leadership qualities (and no brain), he got booked for dissent over nothing and his "blame the ball" rubbish over the Green goal sums up his inability to take the captains role seriously.

    We will probably quality but TBH I'm not sure that would be wise if it leaves us open to being bombed out in the knock-out games (the "real contenders" garbage is rightfully now consigned to history) and Capello continues his policy of changing nothing!

  • Comment number 68.

    England were just starting to really dominate this game when Green made his error. At times US had answers to Englands attack but we still looked threatening going forward. The USA team is extremely fit and pretty well organised . Apart from the goal this would have been a good performance.
    But I cannpt understand why Wright Phillips is in the squad. J Cole would have done the job o the left but the man who could have ignited England was left at home- Adam Johnson. And Carragher is a liablity.
    I wouldnt be surprised if more doubt crept into the England camp after these weird selections.

    We werwe getting control of the game before the mistake and instead of going in at half time two up we went in 1-1 it gave the US team a lot of heart.
    THis performance shows we can do it, but still needs work.

  • Comment number 69.

    First of all I would just like to say that I have no doubt that England will progress from this group without any trouble.
    As a scot I might be slightly biased but I have been looking over England's previous results from the past 2years and whilst beating the likes of Slovakia, Andorra, Croatia, Egypt, Mexico and Japan with ease they have failed to beat higher ranked teams such as the USA, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Brazil, Ukraine and Holland.
    Now I understand that it would be ridiculous going into a tournament not hoping to win especially with the likes of Rooney Gerrard Terry and co. in your team but in order to win the World Cup you must beat the best teams from around the globe and England don’t seem to have done this in recent years.
    Was it such a shock that the USA nicked a point?

  • Comment number 70.

    I can understand Capello taking James to the World Cup but I would have thought that he would have taken at least one understudy with a little more experience than his pair of 'number twos'.

    I would have thought that he would have looked at Steve Harper to be in at least the thirty man squad. Harper is a very much undertated 'keeper who does his job well. Certainly better than Green or Hart.

  • Comment number 71.

    Another superb display by the ever consistent Gerrard - where would England be without him? But as for the rest of the motley crew...ughh - as in ugly! The USA did not look very formidable, so England's sorry performance was all the more disappointing. The same problems going into the tourney are all still there, magnified. No keeper, no second striker, mediocre back line. You can't expect Gerrared to carry the whole load. This ragtag bunch will be lucky to even get as far as the customary quarterfinals finish. Capello is starting to look very ordinary.

  • Comment number 72.

    Did I watch a different match than most of you last night? Only on half a dozen occasions did England manage to put more than 6 passes together. That for any International team is not good, it's not really good for any team.

    Compare the quality of football we have seen so far, with that on view at the European Championships 2 years ago. There is no comparison that really works. except maybe Premier league and Division 4. It has become too hyped and commercial.

  • Comment number 73.

    60. At 09:04am on 13 Jun 2010, spursnut wrote:

    Regards Lennon : If he had taken that shot and missed or had it saved, then everyone would be complaining he should have squared it to the open rooney as it would have been as easy goal.

    ...

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basically he bottled it.

  • Comment number 74.

    Even the BBC is part of the British media's fickleness... in which case, I must say this was an excellent move by Fabio - diminish expectations by not getting a first win, and then get on with his business. Whether that business is any good or not is a different matter, but at least the British press will be in 'O Woe Is Us' mode for long enough.

  • Comment number 75.

    It's easy to put all the blame on Green. I've seen the greatest goalkeepers on earth make those kind of howlers - it happens. I blame Capello. If he had announced a No.1 weeks ago, they would have taken massive confidence from it. Being told at the last minute does not enhance solid mental preparation at all. I have watched Green at Norwich and West Ham and though Joe Hart is a good shot-stopper, he doesn't have the experience to carry him through a campaign like this. Green spent the last close season climbing Everest for charity. He'll be fine. It is criminal that Capello didn't bring a fit play maker like Parker along. Wright-Williams and Lennon are serial ball wasters and Heskey is a carthorse. Crouch will do, C.Cole would have been better. Upson is fit - Carragher lacks pace and Ledley King proved all the doubters right - he's a crock. Joe Cole must get into the fight - he's a match winner. Despite RG's howler, England should have scored at least three more goals at that level. Forget a totally out-of-character mistake from a normally rock-solid keeper and get the people in front of him right.

  • Comment number 76.

    Hey, is it true that Arsene.et.al failed to sign that Nigerian keeper a year ago coz they thought 2 million euros for him was too much? Poor Arsene&all - his price tag just shot way way up...

  • Comment number 77.

    First of all the format of the match report on this website is not good - took me ages to find this blog - not many contributions - Most probably can't find it directly from the match report.

    Gerrard was of the planet for the first twenty minutes - The armband has lifted him.

    I didn't count England string more than 4 passes togther in the first half - Always England's problems in world cups.

    As for England playing well and dominating the game? Two clear goal scoring opportunites - Gerrard and Heskey. We have to play Joe Cole to keep the ball and link up the play. Heskey has to go - Crouch was great when he came on - I'd play Defoe though - sharp and a natural finisher.

    Ledley King and Carragher should not have gone to SA - King was never really fit and you need pace at this level - Carragher hasn't got it. Dawson has to play.

    Lampard needs to be dropped - He plays for England on reputation. He was well below par last night, as he was in the last world cup. Dropping him for Carrick will wake Lampard up and get him playing at his best for future games.

    Glen Johnson was awesome -totally uninhibited by the pressure -If only all could play like him mentally.

    Green will get over his mistakebut I'd play Hart - He's looked so hungry and impressive when given a chance.

    One last night's performance, Rooney does not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Messi. Every time Messi got the ball yesterday , you felt something very positive was going to happen. The only player we have who gives me this feeling is Joe Cole - Who falls into the category of 'Too Skillful for Englad so we worrry about him defensively - so won't pay him' ie Hoddle, Le Tissier,

    Many teams have started slowly and gone on to win it. I'd suggest J Cole Dawson and Defoe have the talent to come in and raise us to a level to take us further.

    The first 11 picked last night will not win us a world cup.

    Hart, Johnson, Tery, Dawson, A Cole, Carrick, Gerrard, Lennon, J Cole, Rooney,Defoe is our best chance













  • Comment number 78.

    Many thanks for all the posts. Lots of good and varied views already.

    As I said in the blog, we must put the result into context. It was a disappointment rather than a fatal blow and England still have plenty of room to qualify for the last 16.

    Emile Heskey's performance has created plenty of comment so let me give you my take on it, because I admit myself I do discuss him a lot!

    I fully accept that he works hard and takes weight off Rooney, but last night was classic Heskey. Maybe past experience has taught me this, but I never felt at any time that he was going to put his chance away.

    There is no downer on Heskey here. I would love him to score when he plays because it would give him a surge of confidence, but I just question the length of time England have persisted with a striker who does not score goals.

    And it would take a hard heart not to feel sorry for goalkeeper Robert Green, who showed great character to come and speak to the media afterwards when many would have hidden away.

    But that mistake will surely be at the back of his mind and I do not see how he can play against Algeria. They will be testing him from all ranges and angles.

    What should Capello - who had a poor night himself - do in central defence now?

    Jamie Carragher looked rusty and was caught for pace, so should Capello take another chance on him or should he look elsewhere - and who should he look to? Do Upson or Dawson deserve an opportunity?

    And yes. I'd still love to see Rooney and Gerrard together. Just once. Just to see.

    Lots to discuss and here is the place to do it. Here is your platform.

  • Comment number 79.

    Englands tactics were all wrong last night. Playing a long ball game will not win a world cup. How many times was the ball hoofed up to Heskey. Although he will win the header how many times was the ball just given back to the U.S. as his headers were 80% of the time to the opposition. Gerrard and Lampard were totally bypassed for much of the match. A deep lying midfielder ala Barry is needed to take the ball off the defence and move the ball around. The defence looks extremely vulnerable and slow and would be torn to shreds by the likes of Brazil, Spain or Argentina.

    Unless England start trying to hold onto the ball and abandon the route one tactic it will be a quarter final exit im afraid.

  • Comment number 80.

    90% Agree with this. Spot on re Joe Cole. Defensive mindedness to put on a right footed player that cannot do ANYTHING with his left foot on the left wing. I noticed that they only switched flanks with 5 minutes to go. Joe Cole would have given options in the middle as well from coming inside, allowing Ashley Cole to pound forward.

    Carragher was woefully slow and was a little fortunate not to pick up a second yellow.

    Why was Defoe not introduced to add some pace to the attack? It seemed that the US had it all worked out with Heskey and then Crouch.

    But my big concern is Lampard-Gerrard in the middle. Gerrard cannot follow instruction it seems. Yes he scored and hen made 1 telling tackle 5 minutes after the goal, but when he went forward, Lampard stayed back. When Lampard went forward Gerrard went up and joined him. Gerrard was woefully out of position when Dempsey received the ball and then he was twisted inside out to allow Dempsy the shot.

    I agree with pushing Gerrard forward, but we need a holding midfielder. Barry will hopefully provide that in the next game. Drop Heskey for Barry and push Gerrard up. Replace Milner with Cole and let the full backs bound forward to provide the width.

    We should be playing to our strengths and that is to attack. Not sitting back on a 1-0 lead with a dodgy defence and a midfield that was all over the shop

  • Comment number 81.

    I feel Green needs some defence here (and it will be a damn slight better than the defence put in front of him yesterday). Yes it was an error, but Calamity James is certainly no better, and Joe Hart is also prone to errors. All goalkeepers make howlers, even the best. Gordon Banks made errors but was still a revered goalkeeper capable of stunning saves (that save in 1970). All attention is put on the error, and no credit given for the point saving save made against Altidore when Carragher was skinned alive. The whole situation of not knowing who the first choice goalkeeper would be coming into this tournament is a major factor and has hardly been picked up on. How can any goalkeeper have confidence if they only know 2 hours before kick off? Even the players who knew they would be playing were as a whole like rabbits in headlights.
    King was an absolute joke, even before he got injured. Cross after cross that cam in he and Terry were nowhere near winning. King was out of position so many times and had no pace to catch up with play. This was evident against Mexico but there appears to be such a blinkered opinion over him it is getting ridiculous. Lampard was anonymous, bar a shot and giving the ball away too easily in the middle of the park. Carragher it could be argued should have been sent off for a second yellow for the arm in the face of the USA player bearing down on goal, though inexplicably not even a foul was given. Lennon and SWP are out of their depth at this level. It is all very well beating the full back, but if you can't cross to anyone it is a waste of time and you might as well go through the middle.
    Heskey was perversely England's best player. Glen Johnson was another solid performer and posed more attacking threat than the supposed attacking winger in front of him. At least he could get crosses in and find players on his own side.

  • Comment number 82.

    Despite nearly everything going wrong for us on the night, we can count ourselves unlucky not to have got all 3 points against a very average and negative side. The yanks will be delighted with the second half, every chance they got to break up play they did and the referee should've been a lot tougher. The US #5 got away with allsorts. On the face of it we played some decent stuff but perhaps didn't up the tempo at crucial times. The performance was far better than anything we turned in in Germany 4 years ago. Thought Lennon and SWP could've got at their full backs a lot more, they looked scared stiff everytime and that's where we looked dangerous. Thought Emile was brilliant. Yes, he didn't take that chance but his overall play was class and he's pivotal to the way we attack when we play that system....if you can't see that then I'm afraid you don't know much about the game. Rooney looked a shadow of himself but he'll come. Can't let carragher get exposed 1 on 1 if we're going to play him. Johnson had a great game and was a real attacking threat. I'd be tempted to start Hart, I think he can settle in against 2 sides who we'll beat comfortably and also young kids like him have no fear. Thought Lampard was quiet but Gerrard was solid and the goal was a bit of quality. The main opposition we'll face at this World Cup is the hypocritical media and the usual bunch of negative people jumping on the bandwagon.

  • Comment number 83.

    #51, Andy, the England after SWP came on was better than the England before he came on. I agree he runs down cul-de-sacs and his crosses often end up in row Z, but it doesn't change the truth of the first sentence. As someone else has mentioned, when he came on his threat made their right back much less of an attacking threat than he'd been earlier on, and I seem to remember Ashley Cole after linking up on the left flank, getting in at least once down to the byline, not to mention the 1 on 1 SWP had in the second half. If we're going to do anything in this WC we need SWP and Aaron Lennon to take players on. We're not going to do much playing like Ray Wilkins.

  • Comment number 84.

    To be honest I would have taken a point before kick off - the US are a good team.

    The manner in which we drew was galling though. How Paul Robinson didn't make the squad I'll never know - far superior to Green, bags of international experience and in great form for his club (and I'm not bandwagon jumping - I've been saying I didn't trust Green since March)

    All in all the game was a good reality check, which is exactly what we all needed. How England respond to this result will give us a far better indication of our credentials, although for £6 million a year you would have expected Capello to get at least one of his major decisions right - I'm yet to be convinced by him.

  • Comment number 85.

    78. At 09:24am on 13 Jun 2010, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    What should Capello - who had a poor night himself - do in central defence now?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Pray for a miracle. He can't be criticised if the best 5 central defender in England aren't very good. He can only pick what is available to him.

  • Comment number 86.

    It was obvious to me why Capello replaced Milner with Wright-Phillips. Milner was getting beaten for pace by Cherundolo. Capello was concerned that Milner would again arrive late for a tackle and would be sent off. He decided that he wanted to match Cherundolo for speed, so he chose SWP. I wish, however, that he had chosen Joe Cole, who is our most skilful player.

    I was optimistic about our chances in this World Cup, believing that we can make the semis at least, but if Capello persists with two slowcoach centre-backs defenders and a centre-forward who shoots straight at the goalkeeper in a one-on-one, then we'll come home much sooner. What we'd give for another Des Walker and an Alan Shearer ...

  • Comment number 87.

    72. At 09:16am on 13 Jun 2010, happyagain wrote:
    Did I watch a different match than most of you last night?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If you watched it on ITV HD you did, and you would be even more upset, as on that channel we lost 1-0

  • Comment number 88.

    Heskey was fantastic last night. I can't believe anybody is slagging him off.

    The only player in the England team I would have backed 9 times out of 10 to slot away the chance Heskey had is Rooney. Howard's positioning was excellent.

    That was the best centre-forward display of the tournament so far.

    And to those saying that 'you have to score goals to play up front'. Rubbish!

    There have been 5 matches so far, and no goals scored by strikers. The game has moved on.

  • Comment number 89.

    Why do we always have to over-hype and over-rate our players so much? Rooney and Ashley Cole apart, how many of the 23 players in South Africa wouldn't actually look out of place in a 2010 World XI on current form?

    Our centre backs are SLOW...too slow. Our one real holding midfielder is not fit.Rooney is the only striker we have who puts the fear of God into world class defenders. We have no naturally left-footed attacker so whoever plays on the left side has to cut back on the right foot - giving defenders what they want - TIME. And, our most in form keeper is untested at this level and so is unfancied by the coaches.

    Let's be happy with the fact that we DID NOT LOSE. Now is the time to SUPPORT; NOT CRUCIFY. WE CAN GET BETTER IF WE ADMIT THAT OUR BEST BET IS FOR US TO SORT OUT A REAL TEAM ETHIC AND WORK OUR SOCKS OFF BECAUSE WE DO NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT 'STAR QUALITY' TO BAIL US OUT! COME ON ENGLAND!!

  • Comment number 90.

    Before everyone gets too maudlin let us remember just these two points.

    12 months ago in South Africa at the Confederations Cup the USA beat Spain in the semi finals. The first team to beat them in a competitive game for nearly 2 years.

    Secondly less than a week later they led Brazil by 2 goals to nil in the final.

    I stand to be corrected but hardly the performance of a no hope team there to make up the numbers. I alsways thought this would be England's hardest game in our group. Like Ireland in Italia 90 many of them have played in the top flight of the English League and know our game inside out.

    Lets wait till 10 PM on Friday before we start to get the sackcloth and ashes out.

    By the way a 1st game draw makes the 12.30 game today really rather important.

  • Comment number 91.

    #59, well said waldowski.

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    What to do next?

    Goalkeeper - Hart. Green must step down due to mental pressure.
    Defense - As at the end of the match. Terry must watch his distribution.
    Midfield - Gerrard, Lennon (but tell him not to try to cross), Carrick, Cole, Lampard not allowed to take free kicks.
    Forward - Rooney. Supported by Cole and Gerrard.

    This is my humble, opinion, due to the made from the choice of players available.

  • Comment number 94.

    This game destroyed the media-cultivated myth that Capello is the complete manager.

    Capello and Capello alone is responsible for Rob Green's state of mind going into the match - as anyone who watched the footage of him in the tunnel could all too plainly see.

    If Capello knew the team a week ago then the players should have been told a week ago so that they could work together and build an understanding.

    Capello comes across as another Benitez - dogmatic in the face of pressure.

  • Comment number 95.

    The same old dance steps again. Hubris and over-confidence before the tournament starts are quickly replaced by disappointment and self doubt after the results don't go to plan. The English press look for someone to blame, and their scribbling destroys the career of whoever they choose. In this case, it's lucky for Capello (who could do no wrong in press eyes after the qualifying campaign) that Green blundered, as this has deflected some of the arrows that would have come his way.

    Shame on all reptiles of the press for what happened to Bobby Robson after getting them to the semis in 1990 only to lose on penalties. He didn't miss any of the penalties; and Capello wasn't out on the pitch last night.

  • Comment number 96.

    What Capello said was spot on. Our strikers missed chance after chance and yet we do not pillory them. ONE mistake by the keeper and we pounce. How on earth Heskey and others can miss easy chances against an average keeper cannot call themselves world class and should go home now!

    Rooney came across as disinterested, Lampard similarly so.

  • Comment number 97.

    England's dream of world cup is far from over it is only a nervous start that is understood, giving the fact that there is a great expectations from all the England fans that we will win this world cup, which is reflected on the players nerves. I am sure the next game will be different with a comfortable win. For me Crouch should start not Hesky cause everytime there is a goal opportunity for Hesky I always shout to my friends that this man will never score and every time this will happen again and again. We should trust Capello and believe me you will see a whole different story next matches, inshallah.

  • Comment number 98.

    Brilliant bandwagon jumping Mr McNulty...

    There was nothing wrong with Capello's decisions last night. Obviously running around and playing made it clear that Milner was not as recovered as initially believed, which is more a relection on the physio's and Milner putting a brave face on it than any fault of Cappello's. Green was a reasonable choice in goal (although I would have gone with Hart) as there was no way to predict that kind of howler, after all, James is the only one with a reputation for those.

    As for playing Heskey vs. Gerrard in the hole, well I think a lot of us would like to see both Gerrard and Rooney in their favoured positions, but with Barry out that would have meant Lamps and Carrick in midfield, hardly the tough tackling combative midfield we needed is it?

    At the end of the day, the US are a good team nowadays, as they showed in the confederations cup. We have the better team, and we were the better team, but there were no guarantees going into this match, so a draw is acceptable, and when we could easily have won the game 3/4-0 were it not for a single catastrophic error from Green, and a really good game for Howard, I'd say it was a good performance.

    Also, we should take note that while the ref and his teqam had a fairly good game, there were a number of offsides and fouls incorrectly given against us in and around the US area. Had these been called correctly, we could have had at least 3/4 more good shooting opportunities, a couple of them possibly very good chances.

    It was a good performance, and since we weren't favourites for the WC to begin with, this game didn't change anything, the main worry now is the possibillity that the US attacking pace and Tim Howard may give them better goal difference than us over the next 2 games, leaving us a tougher route to the final, although I think it would be Germany (definately beatable at present), Argentina in the QF's (tough game, but about even/a little in our favour if the teams first games are anything to go by), then Spain if we get to the Semi's. That's probably the end of our tournament but not a bad run. Of course if we win the group, it's Serbia/Ghana, then France/South Korea (my moneys on South Korea) then out in the semi's to Brazil, also not bad.

  • Comment number 99.

    Last year this USA team beat Spain in the semis and had a 2-0 lead against Brazil in the final of the Confederations Cup.

    They have played in the last 6 World Cup finals and are ranked 14th in the world.

    They are a decent enough team who defended superbly well last night.

    England's performance was vastly improved than in the recent friendlies, and better than anything they did in Germany 4 years go.

    Because of the performance, the result is a massive disappointment, but all the signs are encouraging (apart from our slow defence that is).

  • Comment number 100.

    Ladies and gentlemen, Welcome to watching England at a major championships!!! We never start well, we always play better as underdogs and if you aren't being put through torture watching then that just isn't England!!! Look, we played better last night than against either Mexico or Japan, and if we had taken half our chances we would be singing their praises this morning.

    I agree Milner should never have started, Joe Cole should have, He may not have the pace of SWP but he has more tricks in his locker and is a better passer of the Ball. Yes crouch scores goals but only against the weaker teams. Heskey did ok but i agree with some comments that he doesn't score enough.

    If we hammer Algeria next game we will be world cup contenders again!!!

    As adrian Chiles said last night We love and hate watching England at a World Cup, but we do so cos We love our team!!!

    If we always won at a canter it would soon become boring!!!

    So cheer up and Sing WE LOVE YOU ENGLAND WE DO!!!!

 

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