Friday, June 16, 2006

England an embarrasing farce as Argentina play the beautiful game

Well, I've only seen the first half (the game is still ongoing) but I've seen enough of Argentina to convince me that they are the real favourites to go all the way. Spain can challenge them but Argentina have the belief that only prior world cup winners can boast.

Their second goal was one of the greatest I've seen in any World Cup. The tournament so far has been littered with great long range efforts which have taken advantage of the balls propensity to swing and swerve. Cambiasso's goal came after 24 consecutive passes. It was breathtaking. Argentina nudged forward, looked for space, withdrew, came back, found the opening and slotted it in. It was a team goal which highlighted the individual brilliance of Argentina's players.

If Argentina play England, I'm not watching. Well, of course I will, but we would be humiliated. Riquelme has been one of the players of the tournament so far. How did Arsenal stop him? Our man Gilbs basically took him out, whatever Arsene said about no man-marking.

If Riquelme played against England he'd laugh. He'd look at the acres of space that our lack of a holding midfielder would afford him, and he'd rip us to shreds. Crespo and Saviola would humiliate Ferdinand. They'd put two or three past us.


Well the answers are to be found in yesterdays abject victory. I almost didn't want the england players to celebrate. They shouldn't be celebrating scraping a late, late two goal victory against a side of Championship, or below, players.

And make no mistake, Trinidad could have won. I could see it coming. They would sneak a goal - as the would have if not for Terry's heroics - and hold us out. Because England looked toothless. The two Coles linked up well, but Becks and Gerrards balls either didn't find Crouch or Owen or, until the 82nd minute, Crouch and Owen showed their laughable finishing skills. What to do with Owen is beyond me. He still our best natural finisher, but he does nothing else. His interview after the game, in which he blamed his form on poor service, brought the old 'bad workman' and 'tools' aphorism to mind. He cut a folorn figure as he trudged off again.

I can't believe that we are still playing route-one football. Although Crouch is far more likely to score than Owen, Crouch has to go to ensure, as Myles on ANR pointed out, we stop just hacking the ball to him. I really lost pacience with Rio coming forward again and again and just lobbing the ball up to Crouch, leading to nothing. He only scored after 80 minutes of opportunities. Would a world class side afford us that many? I think not. We're not taking our chances because we're not playing football, and when the opportunites become more limited, we won't score.

Carrick should come in for Lampard and Rooney must now be risked instead of Crouch. Those two would make us play football. Gerrard could get forward and play his natural game. Rooney would be the elemental, unstoppable force he is - linking the entire team together, and creating and taking opportunities. England would start passing the ball. Not just hacking it forward. And Lampard could be exposed as a player who does little more than wait for the ball on the edge of the area and shoot. That's fine, perhaps, if he's scoring, but he's not and new options need to be tested before the knockout rounds.

The other major problem is Lennon and where he fits in. He instantly caused problems when coming on. Yet Becks's crossing and dead ball skills are superior. We couldn't play Becks at r-b in a big game, but Lennon's arrival meant we actually had a threat down the right-flank. He has to be involved more - but how?

One things for sure. England need to put a huge performance in against Sweden. Not because we need to for points, but for belief. I'm sick of Sven dragging us through world cups. I want to see the team play some real football based on quick, skillful passing and retaining possession.

Although, England were no where near as dire as Sweden and Paraguay last night, in the worst game I've seen thusfar in the tournament. [I missed the France Switzerland game]. Larrsson and Ljunberg were the only ones who looked to have any degree of inspiration, but the game was bloody awful. Freddie scored (nice to see he's put his shooting boots on now) but Sweden barely deserved the win. In previous tournaments, Sweden always looked compact, disciplined and capable of causing a threat. They didn't look capable of anything apart from testing my boredom threshold last night. England should hammer them. But with Sven and the long-ball syndrome, who knows?


Goonerboy said...

Note to Sven: watch Argentina. When they go ahead, they don't start playing deep.

DB10 said...

Couldn't agree with you more - and the worst thing is I actually believed england had an outside chance this world cup.

If we wern't in such an easy group I think we'd probably be staring down the barrel of an early exit on current performances.

Still, we live in hope don't we?

At the moment I just keep repeating to everyone that we'll play better against better opposition ... thing is, I don't really believe it myself.

Up the gunners.

Anonymous said...

Another great game from van P. We already knew he was suberb at free kicks (though he rarely gets the chance to take them with us). What he showed today was how hard he could fight, even defensively, to hold on to the lead.

Sad about the Ivory Coast; if they'd had a less impossible group, they might have gone far. Luck - i.e. the ref - was against them but it was poetic justice, I suppose, that Eboue didn't get a penalty when Gio van B brought him down in the box. To look on the bright side, at least we'll have two players rested and ready for our Champions League tie.

Goonerboy said...

Like i said before, the African teams have been the breath of fresh air in thi s tournament.

IC deserved more because they were excellent. IF they keep building they'll be excellent next WC.

Anonymous said...

Hargreaves is the holding midfield player not Carrick. Carrick needs a minder like he has with Davids at Sp**s. Bayern Munich use him to hold behind Ballack. We should play 4,1,3,2 with Hargreaves holding, Becks, Stvie and Frank in midfield and owen and Rooooooooney.
Alas Walcott will not play in this world cup.

Anonymous said...

England have made the mistake that Italy always make in that we have chosen our best 11 players not a team.
Hargreaves – Gordon Strachen made a valid point. He said he was like the Anglo Scots playing for Scotland. If they had a bad game it was remembered for 3 months but the resident Scots could score 2 goals the next Saturday and all was forgotten. Hargreaves suffers the same way.

Fantasy football time. With the 23 in Germany what is the best team. My team would be Robinson with Cole, Ferdinand, Terry and Carragher at the back. This would allow us to go to 3 at the back with Ashley coming forward to take the attacking left side. Carrick in midfield with Hargreaves to look after him and Gerrard with Lennon on the right. Rooney and Cole up front.

Anonymous said...

Fantasy: Why not try Walcott with Rooney? He's the same type of striker as Owen and could hardly do worse. Dropping Crouch (who morally deserves a suspension anyway for his stinking cheating hair-pulling trick) would at least stop those dreadful long balls. I'd drop Lampard as well and use a holding midfielder so as to give Gerrard some space. Playing three central defenders would also be an obvious use of the talent available even though it could leave a dangerous gap on the right which Karlstom will try to exploit. However, with Ibrahimovic injured, and therefore no one to get on the end of crosses from that side, it shouldn't be too risky to try this for one game:

Robinson (though he's rubbish)
Terry, Rio, Carraher
Ash, Hargreaves, Beckham
Jo Cole, Gerrard, Lennard

No, it won't happen. None of it will happen. Adapting your tactics to suit your available talent isn't something that enters Sven's mind. 'But we've never practised 3-5-2,' he said a couple of years back when someone pointed out the wealth of central defenders. Sigh.

PS I like the team suggested in the last comment; the only slight snag is it's got twelve players. But why not? Give it a whirl and hope no one notices.

Goonerboy said...

I like the last formation. My only concern would be could Rooney play up front on his own? It didn't work against Northern Ireland. The idea of Becks as a wing-back is intriguing though.

And Walcott needs to have a run about at some stage vs. Sweden, otherwise he won't play at all.

Anonymous said...

No, you're right, Rooney up front on his own wouldn't work well, since he's not a pure striker so much as a forward who links the midfield.

What to do about the dearth of pure strikers in England? You'd think Sven might have been alerted to this little defect when not one big club in Europe was prepared to sign Owen, who for aeons has had no pace and who looks more likely to pull his hamstrings than score. Actually, he's never been that great on his own without a Heskey to hold up the ball, so you'd have been better off forgetting about him altogether and going with Bent or Defoe, if you must play 4-4-2 as Sven prefers.

Me, I'd ask how to make use of your strengths, that is to say, of Rooney and Gerrard's individual brilliance, Jo Cole's clerverness, Beckham's crosses, Lennon's pace, the wealth of central defenders? Hard to fit them all in one team but the situation cries out for some kind of formation which puts the emphasis on attacking midfield. You could even forget about the fullbacks altogether because Neville is injured and Ash isn't himself. In fact if you left out Ash and let the holding midfielder and 3 centrebacks take the strain, you could do something like this, with Rooney plus a goal-poacher - Walcott? - up front:

Terry, Rio, Carragher
Jo Cole, Gerrard, Beckham, Lennon

Well, yes, it leaves you vulnerable, especially down the right - Jo Cole isn't bad defensively now Mourinho has bullied him into it - but you should also play fast passing football and be able to score.

Look at Holland, who, though much weaker than England in defenders, actually have a better record defensively because the whole team, even van Persie, helps out (Holland conceded fewer goals than England in the qualifiers, despite a tough group). And look at Ghana: again weak in defence and with no striking talent to speak of but making maximum use of a fantasic and flexible midfield. Two examples of a clever manager acknowledging his weaknesses and making the best his strengths.

Anonymous said...

Not sure it matters how England plays. They'll get through the next stage, which is better than they deserve, but go out as soon as they encounter a serious team.

Brave of Abe to be leading the strike, but what happens to the group placings if Togo won't play? Presumably France and Switzerland get the three points automatically but what about goal difference which could be crucial in this group?
Either way, we'll be getting some more of our players home early and hungry and rested, which is all to the good. But that said, I hope the Czechs make it through. For some reason I like them and they've had a lot of bad luck.

Helge √Örsvoll said...

I agree, Czechs have been unlucky and deserve to go through. Hope to see Rosicky in the Quarter...

...and hopefully Walcott will have his debut!

Anonymous said...

I didn't watch England-Sweden but I've heard Hargreaves was as useful as some of us thought he could be - skilled, hardworking, constantly winning the ball back when we lost it, which allowed the attacking midfield to get goals.

But what interests me more is that Wenger was there - working presumably, not for the pleasure of seeing Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard et al. So who was he watching? Karlstrom, Isaksson, both? Karlstrom is still young - 23 - and is said to have a pretty left foot. Isaksson at 24 would obviously be a great signing and the long-term replacement for Jens.

Anonymous said...

Wenger was probably there waiting to see Walcott come on; like the rest of us he thought that this was the opportune time to introduce him. He couldn't of been watching any of the Swedish team. God help us, Sven has lost the plot!

Anonymous said...

Wenger was probably there waiting to see Walcott come on; like the rest of us he thought that this was the opportune time to introduce him. He couldn't of been watching any of the Swedish team. God help us, Sven has lost the plot!

soccer fan said...

Hey nice article, why dnt u get it published on, a participatory journalism platform.

DB10 said...