Int Football – How England rated

EurosportThu, 21 Aug 09:16:00 2008

The verdict on England‘s players in the 2-2 draw against the Czech Republic, and their chances of playing the World Cup qualifiers away to Andorra and Croatia.

2008 England-Czech Republic Wayne Rooney - 0

David James – 2 out of 10

Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful. Failed to anticipate Marek Jankulovski‘s free-kick, fumbled a Vaclav Sverkos shot and and made his customary bonkers charge out of the box. But with whom do you replace him? We all know what happens when you bring in Scott Carson to play against Croatia, while Joe Hart is totally unproven.

Qualifiers: Probable

Wes Brown – 6

Was caught out of position for the Czech opener but made amends with a goal of his own and looked pretty solid. Given Capello’s lack of faith in Micah Richards and Glen Johnson‘s inexperience, Brown is a certainty to play in Zagreb.

Qualifiers: Dead cert.

Rio Ferdinand – 5

Coped with missing out on the captaincy without bursting into tears, but put in an unexceptional shift against the Czechs. Solid as usual, although his distribution lacked its usual quality. Refrained from ‘accidentally’ treading on the skipper’s metatarsals, though.

Qualifiers: Dead cert

John Terry – 5

With the captaincy comes responsibility, and Terry must bear some of the blame for England’s woeful lack of achievement while he has worn the armband. While David Beckham led by example, often a man possessed, Terry shouts a lot but does nothing to inspire his troops.

Qualifiers: He’s the captain, isn’t he?

Ashley Cole – 5

Got the final touch on the opening Czech goal, although he does not deserve too much censure for that. Less forgivable was his insipid display going forward. With England desperately in need of options down the left flank, Cole opted instead to ‘do a Mourinho’, rarely crossing halfway.

Qualifiers: Dead cert

David Beckham – 3

Yes, he set up a goal, but his set-pieces were otherwise well below par. And if Beckham doesn’t give you excellence from corners and free-kicks, what does he give you exactly? No pace, no movement, and a major factor in England’s stultifyingly slow build-up play. Surely David Bentley deserves a crack?

Qualifiers: Chances fading fast

Frank Lampard – 4

Superb for Chelsea, useless for England. Has not played well for the Three Lions for the best part of four years. Even when sharing central midfield with the willing Gareth Barry he failed to shine. It summed up England’s night that he was booed off when he made way for substitute David Bentley, who was then booed on. Could lose his place to Joe Cole.

Qualifiers: Not if Capello has any guts. Does he?

Gareth Barry – 5

Struggled to assert himself in a crowded midfield but, in fairness to Barry, at least he played where he was told to. Sven-Goran Eriksson would drop him to make way for Joe Cole, keeping Steven Gerrard and Lampard. Fabio Capello will surely provoke howls of outrage if he does the same.

Qualifiers: Probable

Steven Gerrard – 5

How to cope with playing on the difficult left side of midfield – don’t play there at all. Gerrard was one of England’s better players, but his insistence on drifting inside to central midfield robbed the side of balance. Makes you realise why Stewart Downing gets so much playing time for his country.

Qualifiers: Yes, but in what position?

Wayne Rooney – 6

Why does such negativity surround Rooney when he is routinely England’s best player? True, he doesn’t seem to score goals anymore, but Rooney was the only home player who showed any invention, craft or technique. And if he had had Michael Owen up top instead of Jermain Defoe and Emile Heskey, he might even have made a goal.

Qualifiers: Don’t be silly

Jermain Defoe – 5

The good: he managed to fire off a couple of shots on target and seemed to strike up a half-decent understanding with Rooney. The bad: he is there to score goals, and he didn’t do that. Defoe has never looked comfortable on the international stage; even his club manager Harry Redknapp was calling for him to be replaced at half-time, and he was.

Qualifiers: No chance if Michael Owen is fit

Substitutes: Emile Heskey 4, Jonathan Woodgate 5, Joe Cole 6, Stewart Downing 5, David Bentley 5, Jermaine Jenas 5.

Alex Chick / Eurosport

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