The People against Wayne Rooney

21 06 2010

Honestly? They should come home now, as with every performance they embarrass their country more and more. The Quarter-Final Exit blog is not usually the place for hysterical hyperbole, so we’ll save the needless regurgitation of the clusterf@@ck against Algeria and just describe it as it was – hugely disrespectful. To the fans, to the shirt, to the history of the national team. There’s a very large part of me that would enjoy seeing this team eliminated – this generation of players, with the exception of David Beckham, deserves nothing.

So, with the honest points out of the way – here’s our starting eleven for Wednesday, and naturally our justification for it.

Soon to be home of another installment of English tragedy

1. David James – The dream of seeing the accomplished Joe hart starting has died, we’re stuck with David James. However, as one of the few to emerge with a slice of reputation intact on Friday, the country fears impending catastrophe and Jubulani sponsored madness less than it might with James between the posts.

2. Glen Johnson – There’s just aren’t any other options. The only positive, at a stretch, to be taken from his Algeria showing was that he wasn’t atrocious – merely very poor.

3. Ashley Cole – The only England player other than James to have sustained an acceptable level of performance in South Africa.

4. Michael Dawson – He possesses qualities that England desperately need at the moment, the most vital being that he would clearly run through fire to wear the shirt – not something that could be said for many others. Playing Matthew Upson would guarantee elimination.

5. John Terry – Seemingly now disliked by his team-mates for over stepping his brief with the media, but there quite literally is nobody else that can be selected. The biggest positive from Algeria was Jamie Carragher’s yellow card and suspension.

6. Steven Gerrard – Gareth Barry is not good enough to be playing international football, and Steven Gerrard is wasted out wide. End of discussion.

7. Aaron Lennon – Mystifyingly awful in both games. Lennon probably more than any other player has seen his confidence evaporate, looking to get rid of the ball as soon as he receives it. Gone are the probing runs and the searing pace that make him such an asset to his club, he needs to stop hiding and actually play.

8. Frank Lampard – His very last chance. If England fail to progress on Wednesday, it could mark his last appearance for England. Now a much-maligned figure for the disparity between club and country performances, Lampard is another clearly paralysed by fear. A truly great player hidden inside a shell of anxiety, his omission will only lead to a plethora of ‘what-ifs’ should England lose.

9. Jermain Defoe – A decision made because despite his obvious merits, Wayne Rooney is not fit to represent his country – in both senses of the phrase. His limp, ghost-written apology for the incident on Friday was unacceptable, and his original comments were an embodiment of the detachment of professional athletes from the real world. Coupled with the most disgracefully inept performance by an England player in my lifetime, only reputation can save him.

Empty Shirt

10. Peter Crouch – Emile Heskey’s purpose in the England team is to bring the best out of Wayne Rooney – now that this theory is at best, devalued, there should be no opposition to the Villa forward’s exclusion. Crouch brings a menace that can’t be contained, and Slovenia is exactly the kind of team that he should be able to ‘flat-track bully’.

11. Joe Cole – Almost certainly short of fitness, but through the ashes of implosion around him, he has emerged as a potential saviour. Drastic measures are now needed, and the game-breaking qualities owned by Cole could resuscitate England’s form.


Dodgy Mexican

25 05 2010

Well, what did you expect?  Amidst the tediously faux-informal presentation style of Adrian Chiles and the irritating ‘let’s make a human England flag in the stands’ malarkey, some football also happened at Wembley last night.  Who benefited, who floundered, who’s now already on the plane.  Our England evaluation from the 3-1 victory over Mexico.


Joe Hart

Nothing occurred on the pitch last night to help his cause to be England’s number one, but there is a general feeling that you feel ‘safer’ with him between the sticks than Rob Green.  Casting aside the usual ITV hyperbole that stemmed from Green’s two mundane first half saves, Hart looked the more secure and commanding at the back.  It shouldn’t be forgotten that despite having the excuse of playing behind a woeful defence all year, Rob Green has still had a season littered with errors – hardly surprising, as goalkeepers who are continually picking the ball out of their own net tend not to do maintain a high level of confidence.  Excellent shot-stopper as he is, the West Ham man’s handling error late in the first half could prove to be a premonition for something far graver in South Africa. And, Joe Hart can do this…

Wayne Rooney

More owing to the events around him than anything he actually did.  Competitive spirit is clearly bubbling, and flashes of brilliance showcased just how important he will be.  Should unquestionably be England captain – peerless player who leads by example.

Aaron Lennon

Again, more of a ‘by default’.  In 75 minutes, Theo Walcott again showed why he is more suited to athletics than football.  Still lacks a basic level of decision making when in the final third, too often undermining anything he accomplishes up to that point.  On the other hand, Lennon’s brief cameo showcased a directness and cutting edge that will genuinely concern any left-back at the World Cup.

Scott Parker/Tom Huddlestone

Must surely be given an opportunity against Japan.  The extent of Gareth Barry’s injury will be known by the end of the day, and should he be ruled out, there must be an option available which doesn’t require reverting back to the dark days of Lampard and Gerrard co-existing in the middle of the field.

Peter Crouch

Officially ahead of Emile Heskey in the hierarchy of ‘big men’ to play alongside Rooney.


Michael Carrick

Dreadful.  How Sir Alex Ferguson must long for Owen Hargreaves.

James Milner

Seemingly not quite as versatile and brilliant as we thought.  Baring in mind that Barcelona have just parted with £35 Million to lure David Villa to the Nou Camp, how can anyone believe that £30 Million + represents good value for Milner.  He is a good player that happens to be English, but this alone should not exaggerate a transfer fee.  Ironically, Milner’s situation at the moment is reminiscent of a pre-Chelsea Scott Parker. Strike off ‘holding midfielder’ as one of the positions covered by Milner.

Ledley King

Looked absolutely shattered after twenty minutes. Difficult to admit, but not very convincing – certainly not enough to threaten John Terry’s place.  Exists in the Premier League now through shear desire to play for the club and fans that he loves, the same spirit doesn’t exist when wearing a England shirt.  Tragically, if his body had not let him down there would be a strong case for him to wear the captain’s armband – but as it is, colossal and inspirational as he is for Tottenham, international football is now unrealistic.

Leighton Baines

Embarrassed by Giovanni Dos Santos. Ashley Cole’s fitness is almost as important as Rooney’s.

England vs Mexico – Our XI.

24 05 2010

England’s first World Cup warm-up game is upon us, and regardless that the Wembley pitch will be more of a foe than the Central Americans, here’s how we think the home team should line-up…. and why.

1. Joe Hart

Eligibility for number one jersey is hypothetical without some game time before South Africa.  Premiership form unrivalled amongst fellow countryman, if not all, but International football is a steep learning curve… and up until now, Hart only has 45 minutes under his belt.

2. Glen Johnson

Winger masquerading as a full-back.  One of his chanced to show he can develop a defensive awareness within his game.  On paper, his combination with Aaron Lennon could give England the most threatening right side in the tournament, but also one of the most fragile.

3. Ashley Cole

The best left-back in the world.  End of discussion

4. Rio Ferdinand

Needs game time badly, and a full ninety minutes without a howler would also be welcome at this point.

5. John Terry

Not much value in debating his place, right or wrong he’ll be starting.

6. Tom Huddlestone

Most likely the answer will be no, but must be given the opportunity to show he can play at this level.  At this point it would be prudent to assume that Gareth Barry will not be fit to face the USA, so other options should be tried and tested.  A horrible, nagging feeling suggests that Capello will revert to playing Lampard and Gerrard alongside each other – and we already know how effective that is.  Doubters suggest that the Huddlestone should struggle against mobile and technically astute opponents, interesting to see then how the Tottenham man will fair against club mate Giovani Dos Santos.

7. Arron Lennon

Only doubt is fitness, is must – and as such requires a full ninety minutes.

8. Steven Gerrard

Obviously.  Intriguing to note if removing the Liverpool shackles ignites his form.

9. Peter Crouch

The critics will never be silenced with regards to Crouch, but goals to games ratio is still impressive, and remains the only England forward possessing the ability to hold the ball up.

10. Wayne Rooney


11. Frank Lampard

Much the same as Rooney, but must actually show up to a major tournament this time around.