With Round Two of the World Cup Qualifiers done and dusted, the England National Team finds itself in a decent second position in its group after a 1 – 1 draw against Ukraine.
TheHardTackle examines the recently concluded World Cup Qualifying round that featured England against Ukraine and comes up with ten things which was observed from the match.
- While some sections of the press are criticizing the performance against Ukraine, it is important to note that England was missing John Terry, Ashley Cole, Scott Parker, Gareth Barry, Theo Walcott, Adam Johnson and Wayne Rooney through injury.
- England lack a Number. 10 when Gerrard cannot be deployed in that role either through injury or when played in a deeper position. Tom Cleverley may have delivered against Moldova but Ukraine presented England with a tougher challenge. If they continue to use the 4 – 2 – 3 – 1, they will face a depth issue in this position unless manager Roy Hodgson finds a solution or a way around the problem. The next best option will be to play Wayne Rooney there, but that leaves the national team without a reliable option upfront.
- England need Frank Lampard fit throughout the Qualification rounds. Reason being, he excels at killing off the smaller teams. With the Premier League season in full flow now, England are likely to have similar circumstances with regards to injury and players who can score crucial goals are of huge importance. Also, 15 of his 26 goals for his nation have come in qualification rounds for the Euros or the World Cup. And his penalty taking prowess is well-known.
- Roy Hodgson for some reason still seems extremely reluctant to try a different option to Glen Johnson at Right Back. Not that the Liverpool player was bad, Johnson was decent going forward through the right side but Ukraine did find success down England’s right flank, thanks to Johnson’s less than effective tracking back qualities. Kyle Walker was an unused substitute on the bench.
- Quite baffling that Roy Hodgson chose to go with Phil Jagielka when he could have chosen to go with Gary Cahill to partner Joleon Lescott instead. Jagielka and Lescott are very good centre-backs, but it would have been better for England to have a more confident customer on the ball operating from the back. The lack of comfort with the ball at their feet was evident during the game.
- Raheem Sterling must have wondered why he was called up. Not that anyone expected him to start, but is Sterling really going to be on the plane to Brazil come 2014 or has he shown enough to warrant a place on the English bench already? If the aim is to do well in the World Cup, then surely England will be served better by having genuine contenders to fill in vacant spots? Also it sends a mixed signal to other hopefuls like Nathan Dyer or Scott Sinclair who deserve at the very least, a chance to prove themselves. Adam Lallana, on the other hand was a refreshing choice to make, as he has the right amount of experience and could provide competition if trusted continually.
- Everton fans may have noticed that three of the four players in the English back line have represented their club, with only Joleon Lescott having moved on from the club to Manchester City. Surely a proud moment for those associated with the Toffees and David Moyes in particular, who signed all three defenders for the club.
- Leighton Baines did deputize well in the absence of Ashley Cole. He was perhaps a little less adventurous going forward but looked pretty solid while defending. With the Chelsea defender likely to be heavily involved for his club this season, Baines will be required for national team duty more often that he has been in the past.
- Steven Gerrard impressed(was voted man of the match) playing deeper than he normally does. Observers will note that he played a similar more withdrawn role alongside Scott Parker during the Euros, albeit in a different formation. He performed very well during the Euros as well. However, there has been criticism aimed at him for his lack of defensive discipline throughout his career; so are we seeing a more mature version of Gerrard as he ages? Maybe.
- England have thrashed Moldova by five goals and managed a 1 – 1 draw against their toughest opponents in the group. Barring a catastrophe of ginormous proportions, England do look good enough to coast through to Brazil with the fixtures lying ahead in wait. Roy Hodgson only has the task of finding the right combination of players required for the Three Lions to have a good show come 2014 and that is where he needs to prove himself.