they are a great side.
They are top because they are just good enough to beat the rubbish that makes up the bottom three teams of the group and are good enough to get a draw without there best two players at Wembley. Montenegro are a limited side with a limited outlook and ambition but it was still enough for that point.
It puts into perspective the euphoria that followed England’s victories over Bulgaria and the Swiss and all this talk of corners being turned under Fabio. Those results were well and truly put in their place last night as the glories of the World Cup were revisited. Hell, if not for injuries it would have been the same god damn team.
So when it was announced that Ferdinand would waltz straight back into the side – form and fitness, got to have ’em to get in Fabio’s team – Steven Gerrard’s chief fanboi, and ghost-writer, wondered what effect it would have on the now vice-captain. Which says it all about Gerrard in an England shirt, it’s not about the team, the country, the fans, it’s just all about him. It’s never more evident than the celebrations when he scores, running away from his team mates, brushing them off in an “it was all me” gesture. Never pointing out the provider, never acknowledging anyone else could have had anything to do with it until later.
So would he chuck a moody, or would it inspire him to prove Fabio wrong. Well there was a lot of the former as he wandered around the half-way line looking disinterested for quite a lot of the game. But then there was the usual great deliveries. You know the ones, yes those straight out of Hollywood, the ones that never actually really reach their target in the pursuit of personal glory. And when there is a straight, clear, yards wide channel that one player is so obviously running towards, it isn’t a great ball, it’s a bread and butter ball. As for the first Hollywood ball, yes Crouch should have got something on it but was it actually meant for him or was it intended for Rooney?
Gerrard’s only saving grace was the disappearing ineptness of his central midfield partner, Barry. Once a required part of that midfield but now looking slower and slower and more a liability as he repeatedly gives the ball away. The comfort zone of knowing he’s in the side no matter what has hit Barry hard.
What is the point of taking Jack Wilshere away from the U-21s if he can’t get off the bench to replace either of these two who were doing nothing.
Crouch had the best two chances of the night, should have done better with the first and certainly should have scored the second. Not a good night for him, no real service as he was crowded out. Bit of a surprise as this is the type of team he gets his international goals against and more often than not when he starts games.
No service, well Rooney was back to his summer form, he was off it in the last couple of games but had shown glimpses and had provided a decent link but last night there was nothing. One passage where he got the ball half way into the opposition half, with plenty of space in front of him, previously we would have seen a raging bull rampaging forward for a bang at goal, last night he was looking around for anyone to offload the ball to – completely shot.
No service from the wings. Johnson, brightest of the lot, started well but was crowded out and provided no real decent crosses, worst game so far in an England shirt. On the other wing was the Ashley Young of England yet again, will we ever see the Villa version in white with three lions? Looking more and more doubtful. Ultimate ignominy coming with 16 minutes left as he was replaced by Wright-Phillips. Ah a fit and in form player having played a whole 125 minutes in the 7 league games Citeh have played this season and he’s really set the world alight in those couple of hours. SWP pretty much did what you expect, ran into people and lost the ball.
Why the wingers never changed wings, except for one brief intermission while Young changed his boots, is beyond anyone”s guess. A lanky forward in the middle, followed by Kevin Davies, you’d think maybe the odd cross from the byline would help and therefore letting the wingers use their better foot to apply the cross might just be a working idea. But no.
The back lot, well Hart had bugger all to do in goal, bar one flying attempt at a save which he got nowhere near to. He at least didn’t aimlessly hump the ball up the park at every opportunity – nah he left that to Ferdinand – but kept bowling it out to Cole. The left-back then proceeded to prove nearly everything I’ve said about him on here right, while contradicting those that have been heaping on the praise to celebrate him joining a fat little oaf as England’s most capped fullback. When Stuart Pearce says about him “It is hard to find a weakness in his game”, it makes you happy that the former England #3 has removed himself from the running for the top job.
If you can’t see game in game out the same weaknesses in Cole’s game, should you be allowed to coach? As it was n show again and again last night, he received the ball from Hart, dithered forward to the half-way line, stopped, panicked and got himself in that position where he can only kick it forward with his right, which is never going to happen – even if Pearce and others think he has two good feet – or the usual routine and pass it back, many times playing someone into trouble, with his left. His delivery is pretty hit and hopeless and as for defending, well yes he’s better than Johnson on the other side but who isn’t but Cole just relies on pace to get him out of trouble, cause by his lack of positional sense, and a lot of the time it doesn’t work. Yes he defends Ronaldo well but only because he puts the effort in, with the lesser lights there’s not the commitment to bothering.
Is this the easiest group in qualifying, much like that for the World Cup and look no maximum points and second in the table. Yes lets give Fabio and the same old bunch the benefit of the doubt, a second chance, they deserve it.