ENGLAND’S SLOW START PICKS UP MOMENTUM


After almost a week of World Cup football, every nation has been able to present to the rest of the world their ability and probability of winning the tournament. Argentina looked impressive, Germany are a threat and Brazil were resilient, but what will the world make to England’s start to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa?

Saturday’s opening score draw with the USA was seen by many as a very disappointing result for England. Frank Lampard had yet another poor match for his country which will foolishly go unpunished. Rob Green made a howler which has put the goalkeeping position up for grabs once more and Wayne Rooney failed to score for the sixth international running.

There were however positives to take from the match. Emile Heskey performed well alongside Wayne Rooney and was influential for England’s opening goal. Steven Gerrard scored that goal and had a superb match as England captain and Aaron Lennon showed why he was chosen ahead of Theo Walcott with some good attacking play on the right wing.

James Milner’s starting role is still open for debate, but what was clearly confusing for many supporter was the introduction of Shaun-wright Phillips for Milner as a first half substitute. The Aston Villa midfielder picked up an injury and had to come off but surely his replacement should have been a fully and in-form Joe Cole, who had impressed in England’s two World Cup warm-up matches .

Barry’s Return…

England coach Fabio Capello has confirmed that Gareth Barry will start against Algeria tomorrow night and this news comes as relief to the nation following Saturday’s disappointing draw with the USA.

If England lacked one thing against their rivals at weekend it was a holding midfielder. Lampard tried but failed miserably, Gerrard converted at times but looked threatening when going forward, so now England have the right man, the only man for the job through Gareth Barry.

“Gareth Barry will play on Friday,” said Capello. “He’s OK, no problems, and is training very well. He is fit. He’s a player who can stay in front of the two centre-backs and reads his position on the pitch really well.

The other two players, Steve and Frank [Lampard], did really well against the USA but I know that they are dangerous when they go forward. So that’s why I’m happy that Gareth will play on Friday.”

Having the Manchester City midfielder sitting in front of the back four should allow the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard to push forward at will without the risk of leaving gaps in the midfield. Those gaps are what Barry fills with no fuss and with ease which is what you want from a no nonsense defensive midfielder.

Goalkeeper selection headache…

Coach Fabio Capello, although more recently has let on to the media about certain player selections, has no made a decision about who will start their second group match on Friday.

Rob Green’s mistake has come under much expected media scrutiny and with the likes of Jo Hart and David James waiting in the wings, Capello will have a tough decision to make over the next 24 hours, a decision which is clearly playing on his mind.

Capello said, “He made one mistake, a big mistake, but in the second half he also made one great save [from Jozy Altidore]. He saved that really, really well.

I have to decide about the goalkeeper because, sometimes the mistakes remain on the mind of the players, so I want to speak with him. It’s a problem of the mind – you always remember the mistake – but I have to choose the best goalkeeper mentally at the moment. I will decide.”

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