The T&T Match: First Reactions
England are far more shite than I could have imagined.
Yes, there are six points next to the team’s name and they’re through to the next round.
But can anyone truly argue that they look as good as, oh, Spain or Italy or Germany or Ecuador? Do they look as good as Holland or Argentina? What about Mexico? And what — and I save them for last — about Brazil?
I’ll get to the bad points in a minute.
Let’s concentrate first on what’s positive.
1) No goals allowed. In two matches, Paul Robinson has yet to be tested. Terry and Rio have been superb — Terry was my man of the match today — and the midfield has offered stout support in the back.
2) JoCo continues to provide meaningful possessions — so of course he was taken off.
3) Owen looked livelier today.
4) Aaron Lennon was lively.
5) We’re through to the next round.
Now the bad:
1) The attack is ragged. The Paraguay own goal and Crouch’s goal today came off long service from the midfield. No build up. And Gerrard’s rocket shot was, likewise, from distance. We have no success on deep crosses, no build-up off the dribble, no worthwhile passing in the box. Our corners aren’t threatening anybody. And Crouch didn’t redeem himself by hitting one ball well after looking like a donkey for 170 minutes, not in my book.
2) Lampard missed two sitters and hasn’t really been close on the 8 or so blasts he’s tried. He and Gerrard aren’t stepping on each other’s toes, but they’re not complimenting each other, either.
3) Beckham looked awful today save for two touches: a spinning shot in the box and the almost-free kick that created Crouch’s goal. Most of his free kicks today went right into the wall. He disappears offensively for long stretches, and he provides no defense.
4) The substitution pattern is cryptic. Lennon for Carragher? Consider England very lucky that that bit of tomfoolery didn’t backfire. If the other first-line striker for T&T hadn’t been disqualified for his two yellows against Sweden, they might have been able to exploit a rickety right flank. And what is Downing doing in there? At all, I mean? Jermaine Defoe is missed.
5) Rooney was inspiring to see but was beaten to the ball a lot. There’s a difference between healthy and match fit. I would start him against Sweden at this point and save Crouch for later, but we basically have three forwards who aren’t 100% (Crouch’s 100% is, frankly, about 80% for the rest) and a kid who still probably can’t believe he’s there.
I know that England’s only supposed to win the matches in front of them, and that they’ve accomplished that. But if they had faced proper opposition thus far, they would be reeling. As it is, they’re dull, and — save for the central defense — sloppy. Lucky thing they’re in a weak group. If they were in the USA’s group or Holland’s, they’d be three and out.
By the way, all credit to the Soca Warriors. They went 170 minutes against two European sides without letting in a goal, and they nearly pulled off a critical score late in this one. I like ‘em, and I hope they can whip Paraguay and get through.
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