Can Roy dampen expectation any…

…more?

From the squad he chose to the first starting lineup he put out to the formation they lined up in to the changes he made and the performance they put on he’s doing his best to shout this is all I’ve got.

Friendly away to Norway, the best that can be said for Roy and his team – it was just like having Fabio back. Oh and Svennis and McClown.

The starting XI wouldn’t inspire anyone but things were made worse by the fact Roy put those he picked in the wrong positions, to get the best out of them in the 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1 formation – though in many cases that wrong position was on the field.

Downing, why? OK so he put that decent cross in the opening few minutes, that Carroll should have done a lot better with, but after that was completely useless for the 85 minutes he bizarrely lasted. Baines at leftback was slated for not getting forward enough, which he hardly did, but with Downing staying wide there was nowhere for the fullback to overlap added to the fact Baines couldn’t trust Downing with any defensive duties – another area in which he’s completely hopeless. Put Young out there, he can cover back, and with being right-footed will cut inside allowing Baines to get forward.

Yes Young scored from the more central position but despite the glowing praise that came his way it was a pretty poor performance from him. The so called good link up play between him at 10 and Carroll at 9 was one way. 9 to 10 not 10 to 9. Bar two decent balls he didn’t give his strike partner any decent delivery. It wasn’t a 7/10 performance. But then he doesn’t play well for England when Gerrard is in the side.

So with Young moved wide left the place behind Carroll, if we’re going with those that Roy picked, should have been Gerrard. A midfield pairing of Parker and Gerrard is one of the main reasons for the inept display. Neither can tackle and neither can really pass with the guile, skill and ability required for such position. The Fat Spanish Waiter didn’t get much right in his spell at Liverpool but one was figuring out eventually that he couldn’t trust Gerrard in the middle. So he was moved up behind Torres. He hasn’t got the passing ability, he can’t play a ball without hammering it, giving the receiver little or no chance and so we’re left with the Hollywood, glory balls battered in this game as with so many before to no one in particular, just giving the ball away. And as was so expertly shown just before the break he can’t tackle without going over the top with a wild jump. Which on this occasion should have lead to a red card and would surely do in a competitive game.

Speaking of none tacklers – shouldn’t you have at least one in the centre? – we have Parker. Funny seeing him get rated as a 5 out of 10, with them blaming tiredness and his injury for the subdued performance. When the exact same displays were getting 7,8 or 9 during the league season. This is what he did week in week out for Spurs – when the myth becomes reality, print the myth. He doesn’t tackle, just runs alongside the bloke with the ball and gets lucky now and again. He can’t pass forward with any purpose and he just leads to the ball being lost by drawing the opposition onto centrebacks that aren’t really that comfortable on the ball.

It all leads to lost possession.

Just lucky that the Norwegians were extremely limited in the final third. As yet another of their attacks petered out to nothing. Green would collect the ball, run about the box – 6 seconds anyone? – as England would meander up the park, no body to give it to he remembered Roy’s instruction of not kicking it up to Carroll, he’d wait to roll it out to one of the back four. This would lead to a game of hot potato, between said back four Parker and Gerrard. As Norway moved forward en masse none of them had the passing guile to find pass, not helped by a lack of movement, so the ball would slowly find it’s way back to Green who would finally hump it up the park to give the ball away.

The English way.

So it would have better to have Milner in there. For all his faults and the fact no one apparently likes him, he can tackle and he can pass it forward. He certainly isn’t a winger, or even an inside right. This would have moved Downing to the right and one have been the one weak spot, very weak spot, compared to the number caused by the positions the players took up. As said Downing is useless in helping his fullback defend and on the night that rightback was useless in defence, highlighted more so when Milner moved off the wing and Walcott replaced him. No coincidence after that Riise started running things.

Here’s a thought how about using the centreback you’ve picked in the squad to play in that position instead of the centreback you’ve got in the standby squad? I know, revolutionary thought isn’t it. Shows the folly of leaving Micah Richards out.

The only other problem that leaves you with is Carroll, who started well, linked with Young – when as said went one way not the other – when he dropped deep and provided so good knock ons. Defended exceptionally well, being the main clearer of the ball from Norwegian set-pieces. But is just so damn slow and at times he just didn’t seem bothered to put in a run. A big problem with the strikers available. Of the speed merchants, there’s a reason Defoe was third choice, sometimes fourth choice at Spurs – under a manager who really likes him – Bent is just not international class, Crouch and Carroll just have no pace whatsoever.

Speaking of slow, Barry remember him, he was really slow two years ago in the World Cup, hasn’t got any quicker. Hobbled off injured after a really inept performance of just giving the ball away every time he got hold of it.

That brings us to the substitutions. As soon as Walcott came on the word pace was used and straight away he showed that pace. As he left the ball behind. He can run, he can run quick, he can’t run with the ball, especially not with the ball under any control. Oxlade-Chamberlain came on but was put in a central position that didn’t help as England were on the back foot, out wide he might have been able to do something.

A word should go out to Robert Green in goal. Congrats on playing a full game and not once throwing the ball into the back of your own net. Though he tried his best to make up for that by being caught out Pedersen corner that hit the woodwork.

One thing Roy has got right is when he says he’s looking to the future. Again he’s just gone about it the wrong way. 2012 should have been written off and used as the start of something not what looks like the end. Jettison the old guard bring in a bunch of kids, spend the summer and the tournament getting them started in some sort of shape to be ready for World Cup qualification and go from there to Brazil 2014.

But of course the media types who dared give Gerrard a 5/10 would never have allowed that…

Norway 0 – 1 England

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