After England’s disappointing 2-2 draw against Switzerland it is time to take a closer look at the English team and what’s to expect for the future. First of all, it appears I am not the only one that found some major weaknesses in the English squad. The difference between the new critics and myself is more that I see the English overrated for much more than a year and in the past took a lot of heat for it.
Let’s start in defense, in goal. Joe Hart is a great talent, however, he is far away from being a world class goalie. He is the best the English have these days, but that doesn’t mean anything at all. If you take a look who is behind him, as an England supporter, you feel major pain in your stomach. With Joe Hart, and those behind him, England has a massive goalie problem. And to be honest, this is going on since Gordon Banks stopped playing. It is time to take a look at this many decades old problem and find a way to solve it.
The four in defense were very lucky that the Swiss fell asleep during their counter attacks on Saturday. They caught them multiple times on the back heel and weren’t able to take advantage of the obvious problems, because they were too slow themselves. Against a top class European team we would have seen a complete disaster. Rio Ferdinand is in a major position in that defense line, but he has absolutely nothing to offer to help the team. Overrated since years, he is as far away from international class as he always was. Too slow and technically clearly not good enough. In my eyes, top class looks different.
In midfield you can find one player that deserves world class or international class, Frank Lampard. The rest, well, there is nothing at all that would deserve an international mentioning. Milner? You must be kidding. Nick Webster stated Milner is lacking intelligence, well, I am afraid that’s not all he is lacking. Parker? Well, maybe. For me, he hasn’t shown top class on an international level. If he has, show me when. Clearly, without Rooney, there are no teeth whatsoever.
On top? Bent? Walcott? You must be kidding again. Nick Webster is right when he states that Walcott is too fast for his technical abilities. He might be a good choice when you have to defend against a top class team and there is space for quick attacks, but if the English have to make the game, he falls over his own feet. Another name that is luring around, Andy Carroll. Please! Webster is also right when he states the quality is at best a quarter final attendance in an international tournament. This time, however, it might even end earlier. Looking at the schedule for the remaining qualifiers, I am afraid there is potential for a bad surprise.
England’s problem is the Barclay’s English Premier League, no doubt. It is the best league in the world, but not because of the English players. It’s the foreigners that are the superstars and carrying the league. Unfortunately, there is not much space for the English talents. Look at the English U21 team. That’s a pretty good team, but the young kids have no chance in their club teams. Look at Sturridge. In between him, Bent and Walcott, he is the best forward. He needed to leave Chelsea to make space for Torres. That’s a problem. If you want to keep the Barclay’s English Premier League on the same level, you must let your young players go somewhere else. There is a good example coming up: Mancienne. He is leaving for Hamburg. Watch out the next two or three years, he will become a major source for the English team. Some more of that U21 team should take a look at similar opportunities, Germany, France, Spain, Italy. There are many teams these English talents would be very welcomed at and would grow and, at one point, could come back as super stars.
A word about Fabio Capello. I think he overestimated the “English opportunity” and now has a major problem to work with “medium quality” and manage the expectations. His excuses and actions around the team indicate a lot of confusion and no clear strategy. The English need a coach that clearly has understood the problem and works towards correction. Capello is not the man for that. For the English fans, the come back to world class might take a few years more.
Nick Webster: The deluded dreams of England’s fans