Some saw it as a case of so near yet so far for England against Italy.
England arguably offered more threat going forward than the Italians. But the idea that England were unlucky not to win the game is a little far-fetched.
Because, just like in 2012, the Italians had much better control of the ball and the game.
England spent so much energy chasing the ball that they were ruined after 70 minutes – Italy, by contrast, were stroking the ball around as if sporting pipe and slippers – and England were careless when they had the ball too, ceding possession cheaply and quickly. In that respect it’s the same old story for England.
What has changed is that the attack is now stronger than the defence. Traditionally England have been average going forward but have been able to rely on a rock solid defence to get them through games relatively unscathed.
But Cahill and Jagielka aren’t in the class of Terry and Ferdinand – simple as. But that doesn’t mean it’s curtains for England because they have so much going forward if Roy Hodgson would just use his squad properly.
For us it’s clear as day that the England manager needs to play his best forward up top and in the right position.
Rooney is England’s best finisher. Daniel Sturridge has come on leaps and bounds but Rooney is still the man that you’d want the important chances falling to. Sure he missed one on Saturday. But give him a few chances and he will score for you. He will only get those regular chances if plays through the middle. We think it’s ridiculous that a 28 year old Rooney is shunted out to the wing when England have youngsters with pace who can run all day, playing through the middle. It’s an utter farce.
Rooney simply has to play up top. Ross Barkley is the perfect man for the number 10 position because of his power, pace and ability to get in the faces of the opposition.
We just hope that, for once, England are proactive instead of reactive. If they want to control a game they need to start not just with Sterling but also Barkley – two of England’s best players. And, of course it’s easy to say all this in retrospect. But soccersweep has been saying it for weeks.
Roy Hodgson has simply over thunk the situation by playing Rooney out left. Get Roo up top and put loads of pace around him. Sterling right, Sturridge narrow left and Barkley in the hole. We could almost guarantee that this line up would pay dividends.
Sterling can do just as much damage on the flank and Sturridge, as a left footer, can offer natural balance on the left of a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The midfield went missing too often for us but we would still go with Henderson and Gerrard. We simply hope for better performances from both. Thye both seem don their heels and gave away too much space in the middle – England looked like a polo for much of the game.
We also think that Baines should be swapped out for the more athletic Luke Shaw. By far the best part about Baines’s game is his left foot delivery. But we didn’t see any of that against Italy and think that Shaw should be given the chance to solidify and bring life to England’s left flank. The same with Jones and Johnson. Johnson, sadly, looked old and sluggish against Italy – a side not known for their pace – he could be further exposed by Uruguay on Thursday. Not everyone trusts Jones yet but we strongly believe he would let no one down if he played at right back. He may not get forward as much as Johnson but he simply won’t let anyone past him. He’s a really top, natural defender, especially on the right.
We expect Baines and Johnson to start because England have never been brave enough to throw too many kids in. As usual we shall probably have to wait until after the tournament before everyone realises that it’s time to bring in the youngsters.
So here’s our team for England vs Uruguay – pace, power, and goal threat.
ENGLAND: 4-2-3-1 – Hart, Jones, Jagielka, Cahill, Shaw – Gerrard, Henderson – Sterling, Barkley, Sturridge – Rooney