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Margin for error narrows after England stumble

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Phil McNulty | 08:19 UK time, Wednesday, 12 September 2012

At Wembley

"Let The Games Begin" proclaimed the match programme's front-page headline for England's World Cup qualifier with Ukraine - and how Wembley revelled in the great British summer of sport.

Or at least it did for a few minutes during the half-time interval as Team GB's Olympic and Paralympic heroes were paraded on the pitch to the great appreciation of the crowd.
The words were an obvious attempt to tap in to the Olympic spirit that fortified the nation through London 2012 before receiving the not inconsiderable extra tonic of Andy Murray's US Open triumph.

It left Roy Hodgson's England with almost impossible acts to follow and when the great moments of these remarkable last few weeks are recalled, we can say with some assurance that this struggle to a 1-1 draw will not be among them.

Frank Lampard's 87th-minute penalty claimed a point Hodgson felt they deserved, and they probably just about did, but there was the distinct whiff of "After The Olympic Parade" about an out-of-sorts England display that left players and manager grateful for a draw.

James Milner rivals two Ukraine players

England struggled to make a breakthrough against an accomplished Ukraine side. Photo: Getty

After the stroll of the 5-0 win in Moldova this was a World Cup reality check, the cold realisation that the road to Rio in 2014 may be littered with more hazards than were first apparent when Group H was pieced together.

Ukraine looked dangerous opponents, Poland have caused England trouble in the past and Montenegro have recently shown England how stubborn they can be. Margins for further error will be narrow.

Hodgson elevated England's display to somewhat fanciful levels in his post-match briefing. He even suggested captain Steven Gerrard was "extremely unlucky" to be sent off when he was asking for trouble from card-happy Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir by crashing into Denys Garmash having already caught Ruslan Rotan with a stray elbow to earn his first yellow card.

He also suggested that England dominated proceedings after the first 15 minutes. Even the most partisan Wembley observers (and certainly this observer) would suggest that was not actually the case, especially in a first 45 minutes when Ukraine showed superior technique, cohesion and composure to lead through Yevgeni Konoplianka's wonderful curled strike from 25 yards.

If England had any form of control, it was not with conviction. For long periods this was uninspired slog, at least retrieved by dogged determination in the closing phases if not be any amount of real quality. Hodgson insisted England would have been served an injustice had they lost, but the lateness of the equaliser after such a patchy performances suggests they actually got lucky with the scoreline.

It is easy to take issue with Hodgson's assertions but equally there must be measure in response to this result. It would be as divorced from reality to announce England's World Cup ambitions are in serious peril on the back of it as it would have been to announce they were certainties for Brazil after thrashing Moldova, a country flattered by their world ranking of 141st.

Hodgson had also, correctly, counted off 10 players missing through illness and injury who could have bolstered his England squad. He does not have the resources to carry such depletion and it showed, as inevitably it would.

It meant England continued with Manchester United's Tom Cleverley and Arsenal teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, both distinguished performers against the accommodating Moldovans.

Here, faced with accomplished Ukraine, they looked exactly what they are. Cleverley is a young man with his feet barely under the table at Old Trafford in an unfamiliar and testing "number 10" position for England and Oxlade-Chamberlain is a work in progress, too often naive in such surroundings - which is only to be expected in one so young.

The returning players will make England stronger and there was a major positive in the performance of Manchester United's Danny Welbeck as substitute, especially when he moved from the left flank to a more central role.

Welbeck hit a post, then forced Yevgeni Khacheridi into a panicked handball that allowed Lampard to rescue the point.

England were also denied what looked like a perfectly good goal from Jermain Defoe in the first half when he was harshly punished for a hand-off on Andriy Yarmolenko, who collapsed dramatically after flimsy contact.

So much of the rest, though, was unconvincing, right down to the sponsors' man-of-the-match award, initially bestowed on Gerrard with no small amount of fanfare before it was hastily switched to Lampard as England's captain watched a television monitor in the tunnel having been shown the red card.

For large parts England were uncertain defensively, ineffective in midfield and struggled for a cutting edge. In Konoplianka, Ukraine had the game's outstanding performer. Goal aside, one late left-wing slalom that left Gerrard trailing and Glen Johnson unable to keep pace was a thing of beauty.

Time and England's World Cup qualifying campaign will eventually tell if this turns out to be a precious point. England certainly seemed grateful for it at the final whistle.

Comments

Page 1 of 12

  • Comment number 1.

    No, he's not the new Fabregas, he's a waste of space.

    I couldn't understand the praise for Tom Cleverley after the Moldova match. Well, he got found out good and proper last night, much to the cost of England.

    Very poor judgement from Hodgson.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hodgson put his trust in Cleverly and Welbeck and they failed the test. Both should have had hat-tricks. Hoe Cleverly missed that sitter I'll never know.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think you are being a bit harsh on England Mr McNulty.

    On the plus side we were patient in the build up play and tried to pass it through the Ukraine 9-1-0 formation, rather than resorting to hoofball.

    Gerrard was masterful, Lampard also had a good game - beyond that however the graveyard of any creative work was Cleverley and Ox Chambers - woeful, the pair of them.

    Had Defoe's goal stood then we would have seen a different match.

  • Comment number 4.

    It really wasn't the best performance but it wasn't the worst either. England tried to play football but all credit to Ukraine, who I thought got their tactics spot on. They frustrated England and created good changes on the break and I thought the chap that scored the goal looked top quality. Not just the goal but great pace and cutting in from the left.
    From England's perspective, they lacked the quality to cut through but had Defoe's goal disallowed and Cleverley in particular had decent chances, so being more clinical is the lesson of the night. Ox lacked the experience to impact the game, given how Ukraine closed out the space. Felt Welbeck and Sturridge made a difference. Defoe, as good as he is, is not a lone front man. To play Defoe up top on his own, you have to have top quality players feeding him, which England, without Wilshere don't have. Bent, Carroll or Welbeck would be better in the role.
    England did have A.Cole, Terry, Young, Wilshere, Parker, Rooney, Carroll missing.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hodgson has no idea what he was doing, OX in the hole at one point, Bent isn't good enough anymore, but prob would have got a hat trick last night.
    Lescott can't tie Cahill's boots. The Bertrand substitution was pointless. The list is endless.

    Worst England team I've seen in many years if not ever.

  • Comment number 6.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 7.

    @3 Dogeared

    Gerrard was masterful? What planet are you on?

    His passing was slack as usual and he still resorted to long balls in to any area. Him and Lampard were supposed to be in the centre, picking up the ball from the centre back and building the play through all he did was play a driven pass somewhere.

    Yes Cleverly was poor but he has shown signs he could be a good player for England. Gerrard has once again shown he can not work in the England midfield.

  • Comment number 8.

    Oh dear Phil, yet another sensationalist piece of English media banter. One minute we're off to Rio to win the World Cup, now we're going to struggle to qualify.

    As people have already pointed out, England we're missing several recognised first teamers. Secondly, Ukraine are a decent side (albeit one we should still beat) and thirdly, we were nowhere near as bad as you seem keen to point out. Did you watch us in the Euro's? That was truly awful. We're not exactly Brazil 1970 style right now (!), but we're now almost playing competant international quality football which is a marked improvement.

    We were pretty unlucky last night with the disallowed goal (recompence for Ukraine's offisde 'goal' in the Euros?), we wasted a few excellent chances and the referee obviously had a brand new set of cards to show off - he should not be refereeing international matches again.

    I'm far from convinced with Hodgson but have been encouraged by his willingness (albeit by necessity probably, not choice), to play guys like Cleverely and Bertrand which whether we like it or not, are the future of the England team.

    So please stop jumping on the fickle bandwagon and find some sensible middle ground.

  • Comment number 9.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 10.

    @ 5

    Easy mate.

    All we've been banging on about is trying to emulate Spain. To change from the type of football we were playing, as shorter time ago as the world cup, to the style we are looking to emulate is a major change and we need to appreciate some set backs.

    We were good in the friendly against Italy and poor yesterday, its a learning curve and sometimes you have bad performaces, but you cannot say after one home draw this is the worst england team ever

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.

    @ 9

    I don't know if Gerrard is past it as such, but there is no way he can slot in to a team attempting to play possession football, he does have the tactical nous.

    Every time he dropped back to the centre backs to receive the ball he:
    a)played back and spun off straight into their midfield
    b)slammed a hopeful ball foward

  • Comment number 14.

    @7

    You obviously watched a different match to me - in the one I saw Gerrard was spraying precision passes all over the field, especially good link ups with Johnson.

    As pointed out in the article - he was also MOTM until they hastily changed their minds when he was sent off.

    I also didn't understand the Bertrand substitution - at that point we needed to change the pattern of the match and it was just a criminal waste by Hodgson.

  • Comment number 15.

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

  • Comment number 16.

    I agree with FootieFan81, not the best performance from England but I think that's more down to Ukraine getting their tactics right and maintaining their concentration for so long in to the match (bar last 10 minutes when we had 3 strikers on the pitch and it showed with possession high up the pitch).
    Before scoring Ukraine were looking dangerous on the break, once they scored their game plan became clear to sit back and break with pace at every opportunity. Nearly worked, but this is something England need to get used to that when playing at home as teams will sit back and aim to break.
    Also, I remember Glen Johnson being much quicker in previous seasons. My eyes playing tricks or has he lost a bit of pace over the last year?

  • Comment number 17.

    Thought Gerrard played well last night, unlucky to be sent off.

    At the end of the day it is goals that count and if you miss chances like Welbeck and Cleverly did last night you are never going to win anything. I think they should both be given another chance but they need to drastically improve their performances from last night.

  • Comment number 18.

    @12

    Carrick has the tactical nous that Gerrard lacks. He doesn't just play the percentage pass, he looks to move into space between the midfield and move them out of position. Gerrard just spins and runs foward aimlessly. Lampard was guilty of this at times, but from what I've seen at Chelsea, I think it was just a bad performace.

    England need to learn that the 3 cm's need to get closer and rotate between themselves in order to keep the other centre midfield busy, otherwise the ball ends up just going between the CB's like yesterday

  • Comment number 19.

    Dogeared - Little bit bias me thinks to a team from merseyside!

    It wasn't as bad as it was made out to be. The Ukraine team played really well, were organised and broke at pace. That plus a wonder goal made it a more difficult night for the England camp than it should have been.

    Welbeck made a big difference I thought to the build up play when he came on. He was lively and got the ball moving much quicker than it had been for the previous 60 mins.

    The major issue was Gerrard and Lampard not being able to turn and play the ball after receiving it from Lescott and Jagielka. Ineveitably it went straight back to the defence/keeper from the midfield. There were 2 reasons for this in my opinion and one is that they never seemed to both show for the ball at the same time to provide options, it was always one or the other depending on which defender had the ball. The second was some good pressing play from the Ukranians. Without both central players and the fullbacks showing for the ball to the CBs the options become limited. Hence Lescott and Jagielka had the most passes completed than the entire rest of the team.

    Nothing alarmist but some more hard work into adapting this system required. Luckily Roy gets them back next month for another 2 games.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm actually thinking I watched a different game as although I was frustrated with watching it this was more down to wayward finishing than the normal issue of the build up play. I thought we were patient inventive and for the most part gelled together nicely. Chances were created with Gerrard, Milner and Johnson (the most criticised recently) all doing well. Think the ref was a bit harsh but he was consistent with the raised arms so the players have themselves to blame for not reacting to his calls. We kept going as well.

    Thought the penalty was a harsh to say the least (2nd call in 2 games) but I still think Defoes goal should have stood and if it shouldn't minutes later Milner nearly went through against a defender doing the same as Defoe so that 'should' have been a pen.

    Overall decent with some good performances (Sturridge looked very good off the bench).

  • Comment number 21.

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  • Comment number 22.

    I must have been watching a different match. Despite the Ukrainians being leaky at the back which allowed the chances to develop and yes it could have been 2 or 3 for England, they were outplayed in the midfield and attack and most disappointingly, it seems even the UKrainians are more technically gifted. And Roy wants to play a passing game. Lump it up to Carroll and Crouch, use what English football is known for, pace of play and agression and they might win something.

  • Comment number 23.

    I was at Wembley last night for the game and we saw why England are so very high in the FIFA World Cup ratings. In particular I was so impressed with James Millner.His work rate is fantastic. The way he helps out his full back is beyond recall. James Millner represents everything that is good about English football. The way he passes the ball back from the midfield to his fellow defenders is worth the entrance money in itself.
    I also thought that Cheverley's control infront of goal was second to none ,and I mean none. England can go along way in their quest for a World Cup place , as far as Kiev I reckon.

  • Comment number 24.

    Oh yes let's all have a go at Tom Cleverley.

    A guy winning his second competitive international cap after just about a dozen league games for Man Utd didn't turn out to be a world class English version of Cesc Fabregas or Zinedine Zidane after all.

    This is completely the problem with English football fans and media. When will you all learn?

    Building someone up and then knocking them down when they didn't live up to ridiculous expectations and huge hype that was started by fans and media in the first place.

  • Comment number 25.

    @ 14

    The article also points out that this would have been a highly dubious selection.

    1 or 2 passes reached Johnson. About 15 didn't reach anyone. Plus Johnson was a waste out on the right he has no anticpation and can not think quickly enough he always takes a touch to many.

    Plus Gerrard gave no defensive cover and was getting over run everytime Ukraine came foward

  • Comment number 26.

    You boys let me down for £160 last night, a reimbursment will be fine, a wee collection from the 23 man squad should cover it no bother thanks. To top off a crap night, Scotland were murder, worse than murder and didnt even deserve a point! I wouldn't fancy our chances in the blind football! Only we could have a £23 mil strike force and not play them! Levein out!!

  • Comment number 27.

    Good result for England. The only reason we'd debate that is the dopey FIFA rankings. Put both teams where they should be (somewhere between 10th and 20th) and it was a competitive game somewhat lacking in basic football skills.

    It was interesting seeing England try to play pass and possession football - bit too late for that methinks. And if Cleverley's career at Man U flounders I'm sure we could find a place for him at Torquay (on the bench to start with).

  • Comment number 28.

    England were okay yesterday. Should have won 4-2. Cleverley and Welbeck will put away the chances next time. It was just one of those days. That being said. Still time to kick out Gerrard, Terry, G Johnson, A Cole, Defoe out of the team. If we are going to draw 1-1 with Ukraine, we may as well do it with Rodwell, Cahill, Welbeck, Sturridge, Henderson, Baines and Walker. At least it will give them experience.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just one point I would like to make to DustD - when you make your criticisms about sensationalism you totally ignore this point that I made to help your own case.

    "It would be as divorced from reality to announce England's World Cup ambitions are in serious peril on the back of it as it would have been to announce they were certainties for Brazil after thrashing Moldova, a country flattered by their world ranking of 141st."

    Hardly sensationalist.

  • Comment number 30.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 31.

    @21

    The problem is that we were trying to play possession football, but everytime we were in their half it broke down and we were vulnerable to the counter. I still think we should perservere with attempting to play better football, but gerrard needs to make way for Carrick.

  • Comment number 32.

    We played much better than we did in the 1-0 win against Ukraine in the euros.

    The fact there is such a vast difference in views around says we clearly weren't great but not hopeless.

    I've seen much worse from players with more experience and supposed ability.

    In reality we're not going to win the next world cup or get close to it so hopefully the media won't expect Olympics type success or trying to compare the 2.

    This is a team with youngsters trying to make their way in the game and need support..not criticisim all the time.

  • Comment number 33.

    To be honest what did we expect? Even with a fully fit team sheet we are still lacking.

    The problem is the talent pool or rather lack of it. Yes we have some potential stars but what we are experiencing is what all teams go through and that’s a period of transition. Great teams like Spain, Germany, Brazil, France etc all go through it, however they’ve got over the problem by having something to cheer about in their recent football history. Sadly for England at the time they should of delivered they didn’t. Our teams over the last couple of decades really were world beaters, Shearer, Sheringham, Scholes, Gazza, Beckham, Seaman, Neville, Owen, etc These names could have been could have won medals, but for whatever reason, luck, manager or whatever it was just not to be. What doesn’t help is when you get the squad saying they can win the world cup and thus create more unrealistic pressure. Yes we want England to win the World Cup but we’re not stupid, what we really want is to believe each and every player gives his all, blood sweat and tears whilst wearing the Three Lions. Then we can start at getting out of this transition period with our heads held high and start to look at winning trophies.

  • Comment number 34.

    DustD owned by Big Phil

  • Comment number 35.

    You can't just play a passing game like Spain if you don't have the players. That will get you beaten more often than not.
    I'm just checking out the Belgium Croatia game, I'm afraid English football seems lost in time.
    At least play to the strengths of the team.

  • Comment number 36.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 37.

    @21

    The criticism of Cleverley is entirely justified - out of position or not, he was worse than bad and became a liability.

    @19

    You're right in saying a lot of the passes went back to the defence, which was a strategy to try and draw the Ukrainians out a bit to create space - fair play to them however, they put in a top performance, other than the cheating of course.

  • Comment number 38.

    21.At 09:28 12th Sep 2012, Superstar_Pablo_Aimar wrote:
    I think it's odd that everyone is also directing massive at cleverley. The guy doesn't play the "no.10" role for Man Utd let alone giving him that role for England. His goalscoring record isn't great either. It's like putting someone like Joe Allen or Jack Wilshire in that role and expecting them to become a world beater.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Completely agree, you are spot on- I don't know why people think he would be England's main attacking midfielder, he is a deep central midfielder. I don't think he will ever be a prolific goalscorer either. As a Utd fan, when I saw Darron Gibson I thought he was a better finisher than him! Cleverley is a tidy short passing midfielder with creative attributes, a quality midfielder but not an attacking player like some people are suggesting he is. If Rooney had been playing that position instead of him, England would have won last night, simply because that's more Rooney's role and Rooney is the better finisher.

    He's a good player but being a Platini/Fabregas type is just not his position at all. I do not know why Hodgson insists on his silly comparisons, we had Rooney/Pele before and now Fabregas/Cleverley? It's just fuel for the critics.

  • Comment number 39.

    30.
    At 09:33 12th Sep 2012, Superstar_Pablo_Aimar wrote:


    13.At 09:23 12th Sep 2012, Theres_something_about_joe wrote:
    @ 9

    I don't know if Gerrard is past it as such, but there is no way he can slot in to a team attempting to play possession football, he does have the tactical nous.
    ___________________

    He hasn't done anything at club level this season or last. He's been poor for England despite the odd calls for MOM and "player of the Euros". I don't think he has the tactical discipline to adapt his role of the "roy of the rovers, all action hero" that he plays.

    Don't get me wrong, 4-5 years ago he was a world class midfielder, but unless he drastically alters his game he's just going to get worse and worse.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    I agree I meant to say he doesn't have the tactical nous.

    I know he can't adapt his game. Lampard transitioned for Chelsea last season and seemed to fit in nicely. Gerrard just doesn't have the smarts

  • Comment number 40.

    I do hope that Hodgson hasn't fallen into the same trap as previous England managers in picking a percentage of their squad based more on public perception and media stories than current form.

    A succession of managers have, in my opinion, continued to select Steven Gerrard based on his form from the middle of the last decade rather than what he actually brings to the team now. Whilst he is not the fashionable option and probably won't win MOTM for simply turning up like Gerrard, he is far, far more effective in the role that Gerrard is being forced into for England at present.

    Glen Johnson is a player that defies all logic in his continued presence over both Kyle Walker and even more strangely Micah Richards. Surely is a player is good enough to the be the recognised first chocie right back at the champions of England then he's got to be better than a defender rotating with Martin Kelly at Liverpool? Strange choice.

    I'm also a little dumbfounded by Defoe's sudden emmergence as the backup to Rooney. I appreciate that Carroll is injured and that Darren Bent is only just coming back to fitness but why does Defoe, a truly one dimensional player with a distinct lack of teamethic about him, get a game over someone like Danny Welbeck? He may not be the most composed finisher but he brings more pace, height, technique and the ability to rotate and bring others into play. He has all of the attributes to score goals a plenty at this level yet Defoe continues to get the nod.

  • Comment number 41.

    37.At 09:38 12th Sep 2012, dogeared wrote:
    @21

    The criticism of Cleverley is entirely justified - out of position or not, he was worse than bad and became a liability.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Winning just his 3rd cap?

    Out of position, asked to be the attacking playmaker of the team?

    I don't believe it's justified. I would look at the decision of the manager, rather than directing it at the player.

  • Comment number 42.

    Some people on here really do not understand football. Gerrard lacks tactical nous? he was by far england's best passer of the ball, both short and long. Linked the midfield and brought both full backs into play and played at least 3 killer passes which opened up the Ukraine defence. Ckleverly has never scored a senior goal so why is he playing in an advanced midfield role where goals are expected, especially given the chances he had last night. 6 yards out and no pressure and he fluffs both.

    Carrick better than Gerrard and Lampard...do me a favour! All he does is pass it back to the centre backs and get it back again. He never plays the ball more than 10 yards at a time while the other two have a whole range of passing.

  • Comment number 43.

    Mixed bag of comment here really.

    @11 World Champions? Has ANYONE even thought that in the last 20 years or longer?

    Someone said it here already. There was evidence in the Euros of us starting to be competent as opposed to the opposite. The same was true of the Ukraine game.

    Whether we rate them or not some of these lads will feature for England over the coming years so they need to be bloodied at this level. Embarrassing for Cleverly that he muffed it, but he isn't the first. I mean Defoe himself has never been 1st choice for England even in his best years.

    Woy has got lean pickings. Just a few has beens and might be's. Whether you rate him as a manager or not, he's what we have got.

    Qualification is the goal and it might not be pretty getting there but what are the options?

    The Premier League rates itself as the best in the world, but it's often not English players that are the best in it. Lets not delude ourselves. Woy is trying to make us are hard to beat.

    It isn't perhaps the best long term tactic but it is a start. Expect more of the same and be grateful you are not a Welsh supporter.

  • Comment number 44.

    Utter dross. I feel vindicated for my scathing criticism of the FA and Hodgson in particular, and now would sincerely wish that all the apologists who post on here, and all the media who make excuses, and all the long suffering fans who pay good money to watch this tripe, finally wake up and expose this sham for what it is.
    For media I say start looking into the sponsorship deals, ask where the money is really going, question the managers assertions, clearly false, that the team played well for example.
    For the fans I'd say: stay away, boycott the games, spend your money on better things. Then maybe the FA will wake up.
    The national game is in dire straits, this is truly the nadir.
    Well done to Ukraine, they did what any team who play England have done and should do, press the centre backs quickly and flood the midfield, as the manager and the players have no clue of how to counter such a tactic.
    As for the players, you can see the fear in their eyes. Lescott, one of the poorest excuses for a centre back I have ever seen, he makes Mickey Droy look class!
    Gerrard and Lampard? Get rid. Cleverley? Oh dear, out of his depth. I could cover them all, but frankly they were all extremely poor.
    The only bright light was Welbeck, aside from a shocking miss, he did actually manage to move, run, and raise the tempo somewhat. The rest of them are so pathetically static. Pass, move pass pass move etc, run about, do something!

  • Comment number 45.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 46.

    @31

    Gerrard mad way for Carrick in the Moldova match, and look what happened... we went from attacking creative flair to midfield stodge in the second half. Carrick got a nose bleed if he went over the half way line.

  • Comment number 47.

    38

    " If Rooney had been playing that position instead of him, England would have won last night"

    Really??

  • Comment number 48.

    At 09:36 12th Sep 2012, mysoapbox wrote:

    Our teams over the last couple of decades really were world beaters, Shearer, Sheringham, Scholes, Gazza, Beckham, Seaman, Neville, Owen, etc..

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

    I agree with some of the players you mentioned.

    But since When was David "hollywood" Beckham, Paul "i need a drink" Gasgoine, Michael "medical bill" Owen world beaters?

    All where simply overrated and Overpaid plodders just like todays current crop of England plodders.

  • Comment number 49.

    @20 totally agree. I felt the introduction of a 2nd actual forward to help Defoe out brightened up play. Notice how Defoe was able to drop a bit deeper, pick up ball and run at defenders once Welbeck came on (and later Sturridge too). Perhaps next time at home we could try playing with two strikers or more of an offensive minded right mid?

  • Comment number 50.

    A succession of managers have, in my opinion, continued to select Steven Gerrard based on his form from the middle of the last decade rather than what he actually brings to the team now. Whilst he is not the fashionable option and probably won't win MOTM for simply turning up like Gerrard, he is far, far more effective in the role that Gerrard is being forced into for England at present.
    -------------------------------------------------------

    Was talking about Carrick btw!

  • Comment number 51.

    I think last night was the first game criticism can be aimed at Hodgson. Cleverley is not a support striker, and never will be. Either try him in centre midfield or don't play him. The Ox is not ready for international football, he did nothing in either game. Defoe was given little support.

    The Captain needs putting out to pasture, he's a passenger. His contribution over the two games reads 'got sent off' and that's it. He's been terrible for club and is now terrible for Country as well.

  • Comment number 52.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 53.

    @45

    "Cleverley was instrumental in most of the attacking play of England"

    ROFL - now that was funny :o))

  • Comment number 54.

    29.At 09:31 12th Sep 2012, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:
    Just one point I would like to make to DustD - when you make your criticisms about sensationalism you totally ignore this point that I made to help your own case.

    "It would be as divorced from reality to announce England's World Cup ambitions are in serious peril on the back of it as it would have been to announce they were certainties for Brazil after thrashing Moldova, a country flattered by their world ranking of 141st."

    Hardly sensationalist.

    ---

    Fair point Phil, but your piece suggests you are completely dejected by England's draw with a side you consistantly state as better than England???

    Furthermore you lambast Moldova, who admittedly are a reletively poor side, by saying they are worse than their ranking suggests.

    So by your logic, England draw against a 'better' side and its doom and gloom. We beat a worse side, and its because they are rubbish.

    Had we have scraped a 1-0 last night (a whole goals difference from the real result), can I suggest that your article would be incredibly much more 'upbeat'?

  • Comment number 55.

    I actually thought Gerrard was one of our better players (although not outstanding.) McNulty, you seem to have it in for Gerrard, yet you make no mention of how poor Lampard was, or how ineffective Cleverly was.

  • Comment number 56.

    Ah I forgot to mention - the Ox.
    Now, I hadn't mentioned him in other games because I expected to get flamed down, however last night he proved what I thought; he's not very good, and has much to learn. Makes the wrong decisions constantly, maybe he's been taking lessons from Walcott?

  • Comment number 57.

    Just too many negative comments. This is football people where the best teams are never almost guranteed a win. A draw is not a bad result, its just the 2nd game in the qualifiers. We all spoke aloud for younger players to be brought into the team. The FA and the manger listened and are just doing that. It takes a while to succeed, so please do not weite of the young players now by castigating them over a single game. Our older players only got to 1 semi-final and never tasted victory in a tournament. We only have 1 lone cup to show, so there is know natural example to be given to the young players to learn from. They have to do it all by themselves to develope a winning mentality. Give them a chance to at least gain some experience along their international journey.

  • Comment number 58.

    @51

    lol @ your clumsy trolling.. Maybe you can explain why Gerrard was about to be named MOTM yet made 'no contribution'... :o)

  • Comment number 59.

    Phil

    References to the Olympics are just getting boring now and they're not relevant. People are generally comparing apples with pears by trying to draw comparisons between the two.

    The tone of your blog though does chime with what I thought about last night; ordinary.

    There seemed to be something of a spark missing. There were too many needless concessions of possession for my liking both with poor control, misplaced passes and the dreaded long ball. That really has to stop.

    As for England's progress in the group, you say how dangerous some of the teams in our group are. Well, if they are that dangerous, presumably they will be taking points off of each other as well?

  • Comment number 60.

    #58
    Named man of the match by the genius of football that is Andy Townsend?!

    Come on then tell me, what did Gerrard do?

  • Comment number 61.

    Apart from the 2 fouls from gerrard i think he had a great game i think its crazy to suggest that he didnt he always made himself available to recieve the ball and alot of times the only connection between defence and attack because he made some of the better tackles and blocks of the game and as for anyone saying he didnt cover well at the back well you was obviously watching a different game to me ...find it very funny that alot of so called supporters jump out to slate england when we are playing much better attacking football then we did in the euro's, i also think we are using the wing backs very well and leighton baines should seriously be considered for the future, johnson was very good in attack but im not surprised he didn't keep up towards the end he was running up and down all game and was doing the same in the previous game...We should all be getting behind england supporting every kick of the ball, every player on that pitch put in a shift and gave alot of heart, COME ON ENGLAND!!! We will be in brazil

  • Comment number 62.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 63.

    The average 'man on the street' can be forgiven for the occasional loss of perspective, but not supposedly informed media pundits and journalists. Currently there are simply not many, if any genuinely top class English footballers. You can rearrange the components of a Ford Fiesta however you like, but it's never going to result in a Ferrari. Everyone lamented England's inability to retain possession of the ball in recent games. Hodgson is clearly trying to address that failing. And what, we all thought we were going to become Spain overnight?!

  • Comment number 64.

    Morning everyone...I have made the point very clearly that England were missing several important players, had a goal harshly ruled out and hit the woodwork - so I am not accepting the accusations of negativity.

    As for Daryl suggesting I have it in for Gerrard...I now expect those who have accused me of being Gerrard's apologist for years to leap to my defence. I doubt there has been a bigger back of Gerrard than myself in his England career.

    There were some positives to take but overall I felt England struggled. I do make the point, however, that we can hardly say their World Cup campaign is in peril on the basis of this display.

    Let me throw the floor open. Imagine there are no suspensions and everyone is fit - what would be your first choice England team? I'll leave it to you. Names and reasons for selection, the men who will take England to Brazil in two years.

    I'll be very interested to hear your thoughts.

  • Comment number 65.

    Its always frustrating when England lose, but what is more frustrating is blaming it on a bright young player.

    Firstly Cleverly was certainly culpable for two lost chances, the first miss was woeful and embarrassing but lets be honest everyones done it. For the second chance again the effort was poor but if he had somehow nailed Lampards 90mph pass top corner it would have been a sensational goal... so hardly an easy miss. Semantics over, hes a young tecnically gifted player, calm on the ball and always has a passing option. He primarily a centre mid not designed to play in the mysterious hole whose showing a lot of potential.

    Lets not forget this is his first proper season and we can only judge him after it not before, just as we did with Wilshere after his.

    However on a side not, it is worrying how he and Wilshere are the only two playmaking english midfielders of any talent in the league...

    Another issue i would like to bring up is that Glen Johnson may be a better right sided midfielder than Milner, being so good going forward, and with a fit Kyle Walker i would love to see that happen...

  • Comment number 66.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 67.

    At 09:48 12th Sep 2012, dogeared wrote:
    @51

    lol @ your clumsy trolling.. Maybe you can explain why Gerrard was about to be named MOTM yet made 'no contribution'... :o)

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

    This is due to bias ITV broadcasting where every thing has to be pro England or pro English clubs. They had to pick an England plodder for MOTM if not Gerrard then his side kick Lumpard.

  • Comment number 68.

    55: Thought Cleverly got into some great positions last night but he obviously needs to improve on his finishing if he is to play that role on a regular basis. Didn't let his misses put him off though which is positive and I'm sure on another day he would have scored when Defoe headed across.

    56: That's what I like to see! Write off a young player after a few games.

  • Comment number 69.

    #60 Weallfollowunited

    The bit of Townsend commentary I enjoyed the most was following the appeal for a penalty when Wellbeck went over first time.

    It took a while before there was an opportunity to show a replay and Townsend had decided absolutely conclusively that the ref had got in wrong, that the defender had push his leg out and brought Wellbeck down. This went on for a couple of minutes.

    Sure enough, as soon as there was a chance to look at a replay we saw that Wellbeck had done his best to win a penalty, the defender had done nothing wrong and the ref had got it spot on.

    No hint of an apology from Townsend but just the sort of backtracking last seen from Nigel Winterburn when he tried to moan at Di Canio after he'd pushed over Allcock. Hopeless!

  • Comment number 70.

    @2 - Same way you just misspelled 'how' a word you have spelled correctly (I am assuming) 100000 times before - a mistake. And Cleverly was under a lot more pressure than you at the time.

    I do think there is much to learn but that was a much more encouraging performance. We only once saw Hart hoof the ball long and saw what was attempted controlled play through the back and midfield. I think the referee was absolutely awful and that did not play well with England who have physical players. I also think that we were really unlucky with some chances and yes we should have scored but it was the way those chances were created that was the more encouraging sign.

    As for all the negativity around Cleverly and Oxlade-Chamberlain, they both worked hard and got into good positions and both never gave up and that is something that has been really lacking for England in the past 6 years - players that actually WANT to play for England! Yes they made some mistakes, yes Rooney would probably have scored the chance Cleverly missed (somehow I doubt he would have been in that position in the first place since he's in such bad shape at the moment) but he did get into that position and he's learning. Give the team some time to gel together and for the players to gain some experience at International level over the next 2 years and we could give Rio a really good shot. Well done Roy and the boys.

  • Comment number 71.

    48.
    At 09:43 12th Sep 2012, Soccer_mane wrote:
    At 09:36 12th Sep 2012, mysoapbox wrote:

    Our teams over the last couple of decades really were world beaters, Shearer, Sheringham, Scholes, Gazza, Beckham, Seaman, Neville, Owen, etc..

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

    I agree with some of the players you mentioned.

    But since When was David "hollywood" Beckham, Paul "i need a drink" Gasgoine, Michael "medical bill" Owen world beaters?

    All where simply overrated and Overpaid plodders just like todays current crop of England plodders.
    ------------------------


    Forgetting their personal lives, both Gazza and Beckham were good. Gazza at his prime could pull defences apart for the fun of it, the goal against Scotland (Yes I know, not Brazil!) at Euro 96 still is amazing, whilst Beckham for all his bad points, could put the ball in a Ten Pence piece over 50 yards and truly embodied the spirit when wearing the England shirt.

    As for Owen, yes his medical bill is something I wouldn’t like the responsibility off, however before that he had the ability to run rings around the best. Yes his injuries could off curtailed his longevity so we’ll never really know.

  • Comment number 72.

    I honestly cannot believe some of the criticism being labelled at Gerrard. He was Englands best player last night (take the blinkers off people). Ok he gave the ball away a few times but he is the only Enlgand player capable of spraying the ball about accurately. As for suggesting Lampard should be in ahead of him, pffff!

    I am a Spurs fan but I believe Johnson deserves his place ahead of Walker. Has been very consistent of late for England.

    As for the game, it was one of the most enjoyable I have had as an England supporter for some time. We actually tried to play football, instead of hoofing it up to a target man. Great to see so many young lads out there towards the end, particularly in the forward positions.

  • Comment number 73.

    At 09:52 12th Sep 2012, Superstar_Pablo_Aimar wrote:

    Named so by that genius Andy Townsend who'd also come out with pearlers such as "that tackle (potential leg breaker) doesn't look to bad, I think that player is makign the most of it".
    --------------------------

    Andy Townsend was a real world superstar footballer in his day wasn't he?
    (Sarcasm)

  • Comment number 74.

    Good on you Phil, do they pay you to read our garbage? lol

    You asked. 2 years time
    Hart
    Richards, Cahill Shawcross Cole
    Rodwell
    Ox Wilshere Johnson
    Rooney
    Wellbeck

  • Comment number 75.

    I think everyone seems to have watched a different game!

    I personally thought we played quite well. Some nice movement from the players. Don't think "the Ox" is ready. Cleverly needs to find some shootin' boots if he is going to play that role. Am still bemused how Kyle Walker isn't starting. Johnson is awful. Also, how is Aaron Lennon not getting in the squad? Has he offended Hodgson in a previous life? Thought Defoe did rather well for a small lad up top on his own, except when Joe Hart decides to boot the ball up field....

    I think the system can work, but needs parker in a holding role, Carrick/Gerrard in the centre mid role, and Lampard pushed forward to support Rooney (Although don't think he should be in the team, rubbish for England!). Would like to see Lennon coming in from the left and Adam Johnson on the right.

    Last note, If you're reading this Roy, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE drop Lescott. He is not good enough. At anything. Cahill and Jagielka to start from now on.

  • Comment number 76.

    #68
    I and many other United fans could have told you Cleverley will never be a support striker before the game. As I said earlier, either play him in his right position or don't play him. We've gone down the road of 'playing everyone in wrong positions' before and it doesn't work.

    As for the Ox, I don't think he's ready for international football yet. He was anonymous in both games, but he'd got plenty of time to gain more experience for Arsenal first. Bring him back then.

  • Comment number 77.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 78.

    #69
    Also when he described Gerrard's terrible tackle that got him sent off as 'a great challenge'. Does he even know the rules?!

    Then again, Tyldesley wasn't great when he talked about Andrew Shevchenko retiring....

  • Comment number 79.

    @42 gfc4

    Again what planet are you on?

    He couldn't play a controllable ball into anyone other than the centre backs. He always dropped into the wrong positions and hammered a hopeful ball to nothing, which paid off 1 or 2 times in 15.

    When the CB's had the ball he would either stand behind the Ukraine midfield, play the ball back and spin straight off running foward to nowhere, or drop in line with them and ping it foward.

    This is why people agree that he has no tactical nous, as this is how he will always play and this won't work in a team attempting to become more possession based

  • Comment number 80.

    colink, completely agree about the comment about Gerrard. Sending off or not he was still excellent. Sad to see so many comments putting him down but it's normally accompanied by a user name incorporating utd somewhere. Shows that there's a fair few people unable to look past club bias even for England. Someone from your own club won't always play well just as someone from a rival club won't always be terrible! Every so often give a balanced view; am I hoping for too much?

  • Comment number 81.

    Why should anybody be surprised by another inept England performance? We have so few creative players because in our country it is coached out of them. Still too much emphasis on positional play and systems at too early an age for the youngsters and too many uneducated players and coaches and a FA Governing Body that is too arrogant to listen.

  • Comment number 82.

    @46

    Yes Carrick lies deeper but he makes it hard for the oppsition midfield. Gerrard jus blast about hopefully.

    Against Moldova in the 2nd half the team just relaxed, being so far ahead, which is very common in football. This is not because of Carrick coming on

  • Comment number 83.

    Below average ENG team....can't see them passing European qualifiers...time wasters!

  • Comment number 84.

    Usual England.

    England will qualify from this group playing organised but largely uninspiring football. In Rio they will lose to the first decent team that they play who can cope with England's organised defence, long balls and set piece focused game.

    It really doesn't matter who is picked. Most the options are strong, committed and hard working. Most of them have all the basic attributes that are so highly prized in England. The problem is (as it has always been) that the players (all of them) lack intelligence, control, technique and tactical discipline. Regardless who is picked this is not going to change.

    English fans enjoy a game which is fast paced and players thundering in to each other at 100mph. They love to see the ball get into the box as fast as possible. The English players are brought up this way and the English managers encourage this style. The game in England is refereed different to the rest of the world with intimidation and physicality been encouraged and tolerated.

    It is reasonable for players to criticise the technique and discipline of players like Gerrard. However, none of the alternatives are any better. The only English footballer around who uses a game based on technique and intelligence is Jack Wilshire and I'm afraid to say that I'm pretty sure injury will end (or at the least severely impact) his career.

    It is unfair and unrealistic to expect English players to form a cohesive team and to play a technical style with discipline and beat the real powerhouses in World Football. Unless the whole culture of the country changes (I can't see it ever happening) then everyone should accept this.

  • Comment number 85.

    So next it would be''Welbeck the future of england''. Someone just said Welbeck should bench Defoe Rotflol

  • Comment number 86.

    If I had everyone fit:

    Hart
    Richards Lescott Cahill Bertrand
    Gerrard
    Walcott Cleverly Oxlade-Chamberlain
    Welbeck Defoe

  • Comment number 87.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 88.

    The effect of this draw might come as a benefit as it comes early in the campaign but the back slapping that when on from media and fans after the Moldova game was infantile at best.

    This team is ranked way above it's station and frankly, some of Hodgson's decision making has been poor. Carrick and Walker filling the bench when deficiencies are glaring in their replacements show how far we have to go yet to get it right.

    Old veteran players like Lampard and Milner continue to hang around and I fear for us when Barry returns to fitness. Will Hodgson return him to the starting eleven too ?

    Our system for handling young players is badly flawed and we transform from comparing Cleverley to Fabregas into dragging him mercilessly through the streets by his hair. It is pathetic the way that we evaluate and criticize talent in this country.

    http://www.soccerlimeyinamerica.com/?p=4152

  • Comment number 89.

    64 Phil,

    Banks
    Cohen
    Wilson
    Moore
    Charlton J
    Stiles
    Charlton B
    Ball
    Peters
    Hurst
    Hunt

  • Comment number 90.

    That's the 2nd poster who's left out Ashley Cole, Englands only world class player. Get a grip. He's just injured you know.

  • Comment number 91.

    @1, @Mark Lawrenson, and @anyone else who thinks that Cleverley "isn't anywhere near as good as Fabregas".

    After England's 5-0 victory in Moldova, Hodgson said: "Tom Cleverley, I suppose you could say, is an attacking midfield player but he's an attacking midfield player in the same way Cesc Fabregas is."

    This is not a comparison of the two players' abilities, this is a comparison of the position they play, and the style of their play. Just like when Hodgson said "Pele would always produce his best performances on the biggest stage, let's hope Rooney can do this for us" - this is not comparing Rooney and Pele in terms of ability!

  • Comment number 92.

    Only watched 1st half as like a lot of people the Olympics have just made football seem unimportant. From what I saw I worry about the lack of pace accross the whole team, James Milner in particular didn't look like he could catch a cold (or cross a road for that matter, or beat an egg). Qualification is important yes, but we should be building a squad for the future and discarding players, many of who have been mentioned already, who don't fit the way Roy wants us to play. For me that's Gerrard, Milner, Defoe and probably both centre backs. Disciplined possession football is the only way froward and we need to stop trying to force square pegs into round holes.

  • Comment number 93.

    #84 JamTay1

    English fans enjoy a game which is fast paced and players thundering in to each other at 100mph. They love to see the ball get into the box as fast as possible.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    I think one of the issues the England team has, and one that has become something of a psychosis, is that at club level the players ARE perhaps used to the speed you suggest but come England duty they seem to try to play a slower game. It's almost like they try to play how they think international football should be played rather than play in the manner that serves them well (rightly or wrongly) week in, week out.

    That leaves them in the no mans land or not knowing whether to stick or twist.

    I'm not saying that this was necessarily prevalent last night but it is something that I think is a theme for at least the last ten years.

  • Comment number 94.

    Overly critical view in my opinion Phil. We lacked a cutting edge at times but we fully deserved a goal and I have never seen an England team play so many passes. Jagielka was the one player guilty of too many 'hopeful' balls but 1-1 did not flatter us in any way.

    Cleverley missed chances but he was always involved and showed further signs of promise. Needs to stay after training with Paul Scholes and work on his shooting technique.

  • Comment number 95.

    #80
    If Gerrard has done anything of note i'd say it, but he didn't. So many aimless passes drilled along the floor that were intercepted, and was lucky not to walk for the elbow. He used to be one of Europe's best midfielders, he now isn't one of Liverpool's best midifielders let alone England's.

    We won't know how good anyone else can be unless they're given a chance. Gerrard is past it now.

  • Comment number 96.

    England improved when Oxlade-Chamberlain came off. No offence to him but I've seen him a few times now and never been impressed. All this talk of him only being young is fine, but he still made precious little contribution for me. Age is pretty irrelevant, if you've got greatness, you've got it. I don't see him becoming an excellent player, merely average-good, like Walcott.

  • Comment number 97.

    Wow, I've seen some hilarious stuff on here today - not that I'm surprised though. My thoughts - I'm not going to apologise for being objective:

    1) We weren't as bad as McNulty makes out in the first half. Very assured in possession and the patience in keeping the ball rather than hopefully lobbing it into channels for Defoe to chase. The second half however, we reverted to type and it was embarrassing the desperation by the centre-backs and midfielders in the last 20 mins.

    2) Defoe played well but my word, he's a greedy so-and-so. Needs a brain or someone with a brain behind him to succeed at this level.

    3) Cleverley was anonymous for the first 15 and second half but that's because Ukraine played with 2 accomplished holding midfielders. Timoshuk (sp?) was awesome. Remember he still had 3 scoring opportunities and had he converted one we would be labelling him as the replacement for Rooney and the Messiah - shows how fickle some football fans are.

    4) Welbeck has some good movement and touches after coming on but couldn't hit a barn door with a banjo. Shocking miss. Awful dive to try and win a pen too - hope someone has a word with him for that. Sturridge was just bad - don't think he had one productive touch the whole time he was on.

    5) Gerrard and Lampard weren't great. Some nice touches but if you can't dictate the game against Ukraine, you're not worthy of the accolades given to you. Again, Gerrard was way too Hollywood and Lampard joined in with this nonsense as the game wore on and England got more desperate. Neither were deserving of the MoM - should've gone to the Ukraine goalscorer. Failing that, Glen Johnson was our best player. Shows how inept Andy Townsend is in my opinion. Gerrard deservedly sent off - he's not the player he was 5 years ago and has never looked good in an England shirt. Shown to be the tactically indisciplined player he is when he doesn't have the awesomeness of Masch and Alonso behind him.

    6) Johnson did well yesterday - had the best player on the park up against him and tracked back well. Awesome going forward and was our brightest spark. The only time he was caught out of position was when he had gone forward to give an option (much needed) and one of the two centre backs or central mids were sloppy in position and Ukraine were able to counter.

    7) Ukraine are no pushovers. If we can get a point in Kiev and not slip up against the weaker teams (although I don't say that with any confidence), we'll be ok.

    At least we're confident enough to keep the ball now - just need to stop reverting to type when the going gets tough.

  • Comment number 98.

    #88 SoccerLimey - 'It is pathetic the way that we evaluate and criticize talent in this country.'

    Ha! You said it!

    #90 PGB Addick - 'That's the 2nd poster who's left out Ashley Cole, Englands only world class player. Get a grip. He's just injured you know.'

    Do you think we missed him last night then?

  • Comment number 99.

    64. At 09:51 12th Sep 2012, philmcnultybbcsport

    Agreed - how Daryl came to the conclusion that you, of all journos, has it in for Gerrard is a mystery wrapped within an enigma!!

    Team for Brazil, presuming all fit and playing the 4231 formation of last night...

    Hart - obvious
    Walker - Good attacking right back, maybe suspect in defence sometimes but no more so than, and infinitely preferable to, Glen Johnson
    Cahill - good composed defender capable of carrying it into midfield
    Terry - Still good enough and his no nonsense approach should complement Cahill's more expansive game (not to mention they'll have had two years of club football playing together by Brazil 2014)
    Cole - If still playing at level of the last 3-4 yrs then a shoe in at left back

    Carrick - Second only to Scholes in the deep lying midfield role, would help the team keep possession and give the center backs an outlet
    Cleverly - If played in a deeper role he will get more involved in the play and help speed the transition phases of play (unlike Lampard or Gerrard with their 40yrd hit and hopes)

    Milner - maybe not the most dynamic of players but like Valencia at Utd his engine, work ethic and ability to get an early cross in makes him a better option than the more hit and miss approach of Theo Walcott, Adam Johnson or Lennon

    Rooney - If played in the No10 he'll get on the ball more and dictate the nature of the game. His attacking instincts come from picking up the ball from a deep position anyway.

    Young/Ox - Undecided about this one. Young has plateaued somewhat, his diving also infuriates me. The only other viable option is the Ox although his selection is a "crystal ball" inclusion. Looks to have all the raw attributes but will he fulfill his promise or is he a walcott v2.0?

    Wellbeck - Forget sturridge and carroll, this guy is the best young English striker in the game. He has everything, absolutely everything and unlike the other two is overly reliant upon physical properties such as pace (sturridge) or height/strength (like Carroll). He'll only improve at Utd and will have played with Rooney regularly by Brazil 2014.

  • Comment number 100.

    well advantage Ukraine away draw
    I think their lack of ambition to score again cost them last night
    and probably will cost them first place in the group
    let's start with positives for England
    they have moved away from straight 442 lines
    and have grasped the need to play possession football
    they did look dangerous in the final third
    creating some good chances
    the negatives?
    obviously Ukraine allowed the centre backs the ball
    we were slow and ponderous in getting the ball into that final third
    the link between centre backs and centre midfield was poor
    and sometimes wanting in defence to some good counter attacking
    we needed faster shorter forward possessional passing
    the gerrard debate
    a very dangerous player the cross which Defoe set up cleverly the best example
    his 2 yellow cards were very straightforward
    an elbow to the face whilst not getting his head near the ball
    and a challenge from behind through his legs knee to arse
    hodgson comments very disappointing
    he will always be a better going forwards then backwards
    even in old 442 with lampard lying deep he was prone to long balls
    some remember the good ones sprayed out to Johnson
    some remember the ones that got away
    in the old days I would have gone for lampard and gerrard with a holding
    player behind in a 433 not sure if they have the legs anymore
    and not in 2 years but they would have more goals in them than cleverly
    if there is one area which England look short of young talent
    it is the midfield 3
    cleverly has some qualities but may end up a bit of a Joe Cole
    flattering to deceive has to be judged on assists and goals
    playing in attacking midfield
    interesting if Rodwell makes it at city further back
    think the two leons osman and Brittan underrated
    but defensive solidity and attacking flair in the centre
    not obvious to see in the centre amongst the young
    maybe it's carrick/Parker lampard and gerrard for rio after all
    bring on the yoga classes
    but I hope not

 

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