BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

England W.

I’ve watched many England displayed ripped apart by a press ho long for blood and take it regardless of the quality of the performance but the goalless encounter between Fabio Capello’s side and Algeria has little to commend it and lots of damn it.

Rabah Saâdane’s Algerians were effective but little more. They have claimed a draw that means that should they beat the USA in the final game of the group then they will progress regardless of any other result which justifies a display of stern defending that left Ryad Boudebouz isolated on his own up front and every other man in green left fighting a rearguard action.

A rearguard action which was helped by a performance from the group’s highest profile nation which never got into second gear. Algeria passed neatly but never pressed for a ball behind the English defensive line while England’s passing was as sloppy as one can remember.

Which is not just to say that the English gave the pass away rather than keep patient possession but worse the passing hardly linked at all. England brought back Gareth Barry in the midfield following his injury and while he enabled ball winning too often his partner in midfield – Frank Lampard – gave him difficult passes to make. Lampard’s display was lamentable and rarely did he seem to have any impact running past the Algerian lines and waiting for play to happen is hardly the stuff of a World Class central midfielder. Capello – the bet paid manager in the World – needs to bite the bullet and drop the Chelsea captain.

Drop him to allow Steven Gerrard to return to central midfield. Gerrard had a poor game on the left hand side while Aaron Lennon on the right was sporadically effective without the room behind the North Africans to make his pace tell.

England started poorly and but for nervous tension there was little to draw one into the game until the half hour mark when the Three Lions began to make inroad up front. Lampard drilled a low shot which Raïs M’Bohli saved well and Lennon and Gerrard enjoyed chances but they did not tell.

M’Bohli – the third string keeper – was not tested enough while David James who returned in the England goal had less work to carry out than Rob Green although stayed alert when John Terry sold him short with a back pass racing off his line to clear.

The game afforded England a half dozen chances – six more than Algeria – but none were taken. Emile Heskey used his strength but had little to lay off the ball to while Wayne Rooney was poor hardly able to get involved in the game, not able to get the time, space or service to be effective. Rafik Halliche cleaned up well around him but often all Algeria needed to do was wait for England players to run away from the man in possession leaving him no options and pick up the ball when it was turned over.

Jermaine Defoe – much trumpeted striker who has talked lengthily about his need for “a chance” – came on and lashed a ball over breaking up good pressure and the full backs Glenn Johnson and Ashley Cole were not able to make themselves available as often as they should be for the Capello 442 to function. They must be extra midfielders when needed and allow the wide midfielders to be extra strikers.

Of the England players only Jamie Carragher emerged with a good performance although a booking will see him miss the game with Slovenia a win in which the seed now require to progress.

Progression is one thing. To perform well England need to stop getting basics like short passing and making yourself a target for short passing wrong. With Fabio Capello probably not enjoying his 64th birthday and an onslaught of press at the weekend which will probably hit the right targets for the wrong reasons the Italian manager is in a position where his credibility – so impressive in qualifying – is questioned.

England’s problems are mental – great players playing badly, hiding from the ball – and if Capello cannot solve them in the World Cup then for all his Scudettos and La Ligas he is not the manager he promised to be.

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