Article by Adam Wilson
England’s Opening games.
3. Jermain Defoe
Defoe is a natural goal scorer and he has proved this during England’s last three games, scoring a sublime winner against Italy in a friendly and scoring another during England’s opening qualifier against Moldova. Defoe also should have had his name on the score sheet against Ukraine, but the referee disallowed the goal claiming that the Tottenham striker had fouled an opposing player in the build up. Whilst England have strikers such as Rooney, Welbeck and Carroll, it is always necessary to have strength and depth as well as a natural finisher like Defoe who can create something out of nothing.
2. 4 points even though regulars were missing.
Even though the draw at Wembley wasn’t ideal, it was welcomed come the end of the game. It will also act as a wake up to Hodgson and his team that this qualifying campaign may not be a walk in the park. Welbeck did well to win a late spot kick which Lampard dispatched well and that point may prove vital by the end of the qualification process. With injuries to regulars such as Rooney, Terry, Young and Walcott at least the Teams should be stronger by the next international break.
1. Breakthrough youth.
Over the two matches not many youngsters were given much playing time, but those that were shone. Although Tom Cleverly missed some golden opportunities he looked creative and was forcing his way into goal scoring situations. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked lively in both games and also when subbed on against the Ukraine, Sturridge and Welbeck looked dangerous and creative in a high a pressure situation.
3. Didn’t justify being ranked 3rd in the Fifa rankings.
England were recently boosted to the position of third in the Fifa Ranking system prior to the Qualifiers, and although the demolished Moldova 5-0 a result like that would be expected. However drawing to Ukraine at Wembley cannot be defined as anything but underachieving. Hodgson’s men will need to improve vastly if they want to easily qualify for the tournament in Brazil.
2. Same OLD ideas.
Although Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are two of the most accomplished and well respected midfielders that England has ever produced and nobody would deny that they are World class players. It has becoming a disappointing site to see both their names in an England starting line up. For years they have been picked side by side for their national team and they haven’t produced the same form and ability as they do regularly for their respective clubs. When Hodgson was appointed England manager he promised change and that youth would be used, however he appears to have fallen straight into the same old ways and yet again against Ukraine the English midfield was boring and uninventive.
1. Glen Johnson.
Another problem that seems to reoccur within the English national team is that players get in the squad due to their past achievements. This rather than blooding young players in order to give them experience before they might be called upon to play tournament football at the World cup. It is hard to understand how Kyle Walker was left sitting on the bench whilst Glen Johnson started in the line up. Johnson has been an England regular for years, even though he forgets his defensive responsibilities consistently and is often found occupying the right wing position and being the furthest man forward. If England hope to win any major trophies then they will need a manager with the guts to drop the big names.