With the group stages of the World Cup over and teams like Costa Rica, USA, Algeria and Columbia through to the second round, it’s high time to analyse what went wrong for our plucky English underdogs.
Firstly it’s important to state that our English underdogs were not underdogs at all. The press had downplayed England’s chances so significantly as to raise the expectations back up again due to this lack of perceived expectation. As a result the England players yet again went into A World Cup under crippling pressure and after their opening loss to Italy, they looked like shadows of men, too afraid to receive the ball against Uruguay.
A problem seemingly ignored by the press is that Gerard was awful and was partially responsible for the three goals conceded at this World Cup. But then again he did spray the ball outside at awkward heights for his team-mates to receive, so maybe he deserves to be let off. In defence of Gerrard he had just completed a gruelling, yet disappointing season. However if this was in any way likely to hamper his performance he should of put his team first and let someone else have a go.
Another problem for England was there lack of finishing ability. Given the chances England had in the first two games at least two points were a real possibility. The ability to be clinical is what separates the good from the average on the world stage. As a result of this England dropped out. This lack of ability to finish our chances can be seen as a large reason for the disappointing early exit. However you cannot blame the personnel as both Rooney and Sturridge were clearly the best candidates in their position, it’s just slightly disappointing that they couldn’t replicate their club form on the global stage.
Two of the worst players for England were Everton duo Baines and Jagielka. Both of them looked completely all at sea. They looked incapable to deliver in major tournament football and the question has to be asked as to whether England would have been more solid with Cole and Terry occupying these positions. The answer to that question is almost resoundingly yes. Jagielka was particularly culpable for the Uruguay goals, mainly for not keeping his eye on Suarez, a threat he should of been all too aware of. Baines on the other hand was culpable for the Italy defeat, allowing Candreva to whip in dangerous balls into the England box, one of which resulted in Balotelli’s winner. Both of these players showed an inability to perform at the top level and therefore must shoulder some responsibility for the death of England’s unlikely dream.
But hey, it’s not all doom and gloom England fans, we did manage a unbelievably boring draw with Costa Rica to round off our role in the football festivities.