Is blaming Rob Green simply papering over the ‘real’ cracks?

So England didn’t get off to the perfect start that everybody (including the team) would have wished for in South Africa, but in retrospect a point against the USA last Saturday is better than none…right?

Robert Green would have obviously taken the blame for his disastrous mistake, which led to the 1-1 draw against the US.

However, should the nation really be blaming Green, who made just one mistake in the entire match? Granted it was a bad one, but should we only focus on that one certain incident? Or were there other areas of the team which showed a particular weakness that Capello should look to improve on for the next game against Algeria this Friday?

Capello chose to give the no.1 jersey to Robert Green for their first group C match rather than David James or Joe Hart. He of course may not have been the fans choice, but the Italian entrusted him with the white gloves on the opening night of England’s voyage to the World Cup trophy.

The England keeper performed pretty well and dealt with several attacks which the USA produced. However, the 30-year-old shot-stopper failed to keep hold of a 25-yard drive from Clint Dempsey which wasn’t travelling at any real pace. The low shot trickled off the goalkeeper’s hands and somehow crept into the back of the net. It was a real howler, but despite this moment of madness Green (in some fans eyes) did an ok job in between the sticks.

It’s easy to blame the 2 dropped points on Green, but what about the other players in the team, did they put in a good performance, and equally, the effort to salvage all the points? Even more so, were Capello’s plans and tactics up to par? On all accounts, many would think not.

Capello decided to go with a 4-4-2 formation and for some reason (which is beyond me) chose Emile Heskey over Peter Crouch or Jermain Defoe to partner Wayne Rooney up front.

Emile Heskey will no doubt have to take some measure of the blame for England’s dropped points. The striker had a glorious chance to put England 2-1 up and effectively kill the game off, but instead of showing precision and composure, Heskey opted to smash it straight into Tim Howard’s midriff. Surprisingly the striker was named our man of the match, for what winning a few balls in the air and missing a golden opportunity like always? Quite laughable really.

Heskey has not got a good goal scoring record for his country, in fact its pretty poor, 7 goals in 59 appearances says it all really. As a striker his job is to bang in goals, which he hasn’t been able to do in over a year for his country. Capello can you please enhance England’s chances of lifting the World Cup in July by dropping this clown…he is simply not good enough.

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Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard played in the centre-midfield for England…can anyone tell me why? These two players have the same mentality and have been questioned in the past over their capabilities of playing alongside each other. Gerrard did however perform better of the two which effectively left Lampard fading into the background. In fact, the Liverpool and newly appointed England skipper was certainly the public’s man of the match, and was one of a few players who showed grit and determination last Saturday.

Rio Ferdinand’s absence proved to be a huge loss, as the England defence was not as solid as it should have been. Ledley King was notably the best defender England had on the pitch, but an injury saw him only play the first 45 minutes (something we should be used to by now right?). Jamie Carragher took his place and his lack of pace hindered rather than helped England. Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole did well, but Capello needs his full-backs to bomb forward more often during the 90 minutes.

James Milner and Aaron Lennon never really made an impact and both look jaded as time went on. Milner did not look like he could keep up with the pace and handle the pressure, whilst Lennon failed to show what he is truly capable of.

Not to say Rooney is a bad player, far from it, but even he should have contributed a little bit more. The striker never really got into the game and as such was overshadowed by the England Skipper. However, Rooney has expressed his desire to play upfront on his own for his country, as he feels he performs better in the lonesome role. Rooney’s declaration would have also pleased the fans, as many of them feel a 4-2-3-1 system suits England the best. Capello should take the hint and utilize our talisman and finest player in the best way possible.

A majority of the three lion fans (including myself) will feel that the England team in general did not show the right level of fortitude capable of being crowned World Cup champions, far from it. Yes, it was only the first game, tension was high and Robert Green let in a howler, but if England are to bring back the World Cup then they will need to perform a whole lot better, especially when put up against the stronger nations in the latter stages (if of course they get there that is).

All in all Green shouldn’t be blamed for England’s poor start to the tournament; the man that should be blamed is none other than Capello. The England coach will need to raise his tactical knowledge to another level and should look to rethink his strategy for the next game. The Italian will also have to make the right decisions from here on in, otherwise we could see our national team return home from South Africa before the tournament has even begun.

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