“Please play Theo Walcott up front, or switch to 4-5-1 otherwise.”
Are you listening Mr Eriksson?
England’s recent streak of wins had perhaps given people the impression that Belarus, if not swept away, would be efficiently disposed of. As it turned out, Jenas’s goal and Lennon’s impressive display apart, there was little to cheer for English fans and perhaps, with Rooney almost out of the World Cup picture, little to hope for come 10th June.
England’s goal was of an offside header by Owen that was tapped in by Jenas on the rebound. On the other hand, Campbell was wrestled to the ground and the ball deflected away by a deliberate handball, two clear penalties not given for England. Belarus scored their first goal thanks to Robert Green’s unfortunate, and rather clumsy injury, while the second one was a soft, soft goal, showing how rusty Campbell and Ashley Cole were today.
England Team Review:
David James – wasn’t tested much, and maybe that’s a good thing.
Robert Green (sub) – A fumble and a clumsy injury that led to a goal. Nice 6 minute appearance and bye-bye to the World Cup.
Scott Carson (sub) – Going to the World Cup – didn’t make any obvious mistakes.
Owen Hargreaves – Right-back? Eriksson’s desire to train Hargreaves as a utility midfielder is sorely misguided – a certain Neville sits on the sidelines waiting to do what he did for United all these years.
Jamie Carragher – Assured display, as expected. 3rd choice defender, surely.
Sol Campbell – He is in the squad presumably because of his aerial ability and his experience. Current form and recent displays suggest that he might be a liability at the World Cup.
Michael Dawson (sub) – 14 minutes is not enough time to show what you are made off, but with a more talented Wes Brown ignored for the squad, you wonder why Eriksson chose him.
Ashley Cole – rusty, but fast in attack and ruthless in defence as ever. With Terry and Ferdinand alongside him he will be able to go forward more often.
Aaron Lennon – the man of the match for England. Forced Belarus to double team after just 15 minutes, and still managed to create several decent chances in the rest of the match. One of the picks that Eriksson got right.
Michael Carrick – He was supposed to have gelled well with Lennon and Jenas and helped break down the Belarus defence. Instead, Carrick was subdued, playing well at times but totally losing the plot otherwise. Gave the ball away several times.
Jermaine Jenas – Not Joe Cole, and on today’s performance nowhere near Kevin Nolan either. Scored a goal but was effectively shackled by the Belarus midfield.
Stewart Downing – Strong display, an excellent backup for Joe Cole.
Joe Cole (sub) – Thrown on to create a goal out of nowhere, Cole felt the absense of Lampard and Gerrard more than most. He is not Rooney, but is definitely one of the key players for England this summer.
Michael Owen – Played well considering how long he has been out.
Peter Crouch – I would not bet on this man to help us win the World Cup. Bring in Walcott!
Theo Walcott (sub) – Got 43 minutes to shine but had no chance to. He will get a bigger piece of the action in the next game, surely.
Jermaine Defoe (sub) – Came on along with Dawson, and got little time to make his case. With any luck, he’ll make it at Crouchie’s expense.
To The Future:
The next friendly on 30th May is bound to feature the full squad, and that will be the real test of how good our chances are for the World Cup – but with Carrick, Lennon, Downing and Walcott in backup, it’s hard to see why we won’t at least score every time, even in Rooney’s expected absence.