Four Players that England need to find replacements for
Last night’s World Cup Qualification draw with Ukraine highlighted once again the severe deficiencies that the England team has in basic facets of the game of football – facets such as passing, ball retention, finishing and defending.
September 12th, 2012
The 1-1 stalemate at Wembley, rescued only by an 87th Frank Lampard minute penalty, demonstrated once again that there are players within the England camp who are not longed for international football. Here, we identify four players from last night who England really need to find replacements for.
Joleon Lescott is very good at the basics. He heads, he marks and he tackles. That’s fine when you’re in a Manchester City team that is up against QPR. It’s not fine when you’re in an England team and expected to perform duties that you’re clearly not cut out for – like passing a football to a teammate.
Lescott has never been the most able on the ball and it showed in his distribution last night. Granted, John Terry was missing but in our view, Terry should be partnered by Phil Jagielka in the England defence, rather than the Man City man.
Nobody can doubt James Milner’s work ethic and determination. What we can doubt is his impact from England’s right hand side.
Milner is not a naturally wide player (his selection there is more down to his fellow Leeds United youth team graduate Aaron Lennon’s proneness to injury) and naturally cuts inside to his more natural central role – congesting England’s middle and leaving Glen Johnson to come forward and fill the void.
Leighton Baines, at times, looked like he wanted to grab the young Arsenal winger by the throat. Oxlade-Chamberlain may be young, but international football is a steep learning curve and he is being caught out. His failure to track back and follow the play left Baines exposed on more than one occasion and, combined with England’s deep defensive live, left them vulnerable.
Whilst it’s easy to excuse Oxlade-Chamberlain whilst he is learning this level, his attacking performance didn’t make up for his defensive deficiencies and, at present, this England team isn’t good enough to carry passengers.
This was undoubtedly Gerrard’s worst performance in an England shirt and the red card, earned for two needless bookable offences, was the icing on the cake.
The Liverpool captain was given a torrid time by Yevgeni Konoplianka on more than one occasion, he drifted too far across for the goal and he failed to get to grips with the Dnipro playmaker.
In his role as holding midfielder, he was also responsible for the distribution of the ball from the back four to the likes of Cleverley, Milner and Chamberlain – something which he failed to do. England had plenty of ball in their own half but couldn’t stamp their authority on the midfield areas. Gerrard has to carry the responsibility for that.
The performance perhaps wasn’t that much of a surprise. Gerrard’s performances in a Liverpool shirt, particularly in mid-week, have been poor – can the 32-year-old (who will be 34 by the time the World Cup kicks off in Rio) cope with the rigours of international football?