It was really disappointing to see England lose 2-1 to Uruguay last night – but not surprising.
Going into the tournament we all feared the back four were never not going to concede goals – and now it has been proven.
England just weren’t good enough. I thought they were poor in the first half and gave the ball away too much.
Roy’s close to finding something – but he needs two young centre-halves that have the balls to play, the balls to step into midfield now and again and full-backs who can defend.
We’ve got two full-backs now in Leighton Baines and Glen Johnson who are great going forward – but we’ve got great forwards already.
But we need solid defenders and we’re not blessed with great talent in this area.
The Blame Game
There’s no way you can blame Steven Gerrard for not getting more on the ball from a header in the middle of the park for Luis Suarez’s second goal. The defenders didn’t sense the danger. Joe Hart has looked a bit shaky too – but we don’t really have anyone to replace him.
The Liverpool and England captain hasn’t had a great tournament by his standards. He’s not the box-to-box player he once was.
Brendan Rodgers recognised this at Liverpool and they’ve adjusted his style of play to get the maximum from him.
It’s not easy to keep up those high levels of performance – particularly after the season he’s had with Liverpool’s title challenge.
Defending Ashley Cole
Not bringing Ashley Cole was probably a mistake – not so much for his attacking qualities – but more his defensive ones.
I think Baines and the whole of the back four have been found out a bit. It’s been argued that John Terry could have steadied the ship and taken command – but he’s not getting any younger either.
Ideally what was needed was a young John Terry and a Rio Ferdinand in his prime to marshal the defence.
But that’s the past – and England need to concentrate on the future against Costa Rica next Tuesday (5pm).
One player who should definitely start is Ross Barkley. I’ve said before that he’d be in my team but play him in the centre like he does for Everton – not out wide as a replacement for Raheem Sterling.
Square pegs, round holes
He’d be a direct replacement for Jordan Henderson. He’s a good lad and has done okay, but has nowhere near the quality that Ross Barkley has.
The Everton man would be a perfect fit for that central midfield role and would take a lot of the heavy lifting off Gerrard’s shoulders.
He can play off Gerrard, bomb forward, beat a man – give and take a pass. He’d be ideal for Wayne Rooney too and they could strike up a good partnership.
Wayne was much better last night in that more central role – but that was always a given.
Why we played our best goalscorer on the wing against Italy was beyond me. It was ridiculous really.
But as with Barkley, we try and fit too many square pegs into round holes.
I’ve said it before. Does Robin Van Persie play on the wing? No. The best goal scorers play centre-forward. Simple as.
Just because we’re England we think we have to do something different.
If Roy doesn’t fancy him – well don’t play him.
I don’t know if England have the depth in the squad to make wholesale changes for the Costa Rica game next Tuesday (5pm) – assuming that Italy and Costa Rica don’t draw at 5pm Friday afternoon. (Costa Rica won 1-0 to end England’s World Cup dreams).
If there’s nothing to play for on Tuesday, Roy Hodgson might as well opt for Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as a younger, quicker, more aggressive centre-back pairing.
Their form at Manchester United has been well below par this season, so it was hard to justify giving them starting roles in either of the last two games.
There’s also Luke Shaw. Let’s see how he handles the big occasion. The sad thing is it may be too little too late now to make these changes.
Luis Suarez is a class player and I bet Roy regrets saying now that he had to prove himself at the top level.
You can’t say that about the opposition as it always come back to haunt you. David Moyes said the same thing about his diving at Everton. What happens?
Suarez scores and celebrates by diving in front of him. You’re better keeping your mouth shut or praise them rather than motivating danger men even more.
His first goal was a great header across Joe Hart after a fabulous cross from Edinson Cavani but our defenders weren’t alert enough for the second goal (as the image below shows).
England’s World Cup fate is out of their hands now so the team and supporters just have to play the waiting game now and hope for the best tonight.