Euro 2012 Group Stages: Rating Every Member of the England Squad
Thus far England has been exactly how many have seen them...enigmatic but still pretty good. Though they did not blow anyone away in the group stage, they did what they needed to do in winning Group D and advancing to the knockout rounds.
No shame will be cast down upon Roy Hodgson and his men this time around as they certainly did not underachieve. A loss to Italy on Sunday would end their European dreams and extend their cup drought at least two more years, but no one would complain about falling in a hard fought match against what is a pretty good Italian side.
But before that match takes place, let’s take a moment to reflect on how the players got there. Here are the player ratings for all who took part in the opening three matches of group play.
Joe Hart: 7/10
With the defensive mentality Hodgson has decided to go with, Hart has been tested plenty enough this tournament. But the only reason Hodgson is able to go with such a setup is because he can rely on Hart in net to keep out any long shots.
This has been a tournament that has seen many great saves from nearly all keepers. Hart is not exempt from this list as he has needed to be near perfect for England to squeak out the results they got.
He opened the tournament rather timid, making an uncharacteristic error on the first cross he went to gather. He also should have perhaps done better on Samir Nasri’s goal for the French. But that is about the only critique you can make in his play thus far.
Ashley Cole: 6.5/10
Cole has been surprisingly quiet this tournament, doing what he is expected to on defense, but not getting down the flank to support the attack as much as usual. With that said, he is likely just playing into the defense-first mentality and has been exceptional in that role.
Though he may have to become more dynamic as they get deeper into the tournament to support an attack that has looked anemic at times.
Jolean Lescott: 7/10
Becoming a first choice center-back after Gary Cahill went down with an injury, Lescott silenced any speculation 30 minutes into the first game with a great headed goal. Though he has not found the net again since, he has been excellent in his defensive duties and a major reason why England has only conceded one goal.
John Terry: 8/10
It seems like every time controversy rains down upon Terry, he takes it and turns it into excellent play. It is hard to argue that any other English player has been as important for England thus far. Though he may not wear the armband, he is certainly in charge of that defensive structure and keeping them as composed as ever.
Whether or not the ball did cross the line against Ukraine, Terry still got back and made enough of an effort to fool the official. It is the kind of play that has defined his career and made him an all-time great.
Glen Johnson: 7/10
Johnson’s inclusion in the squad was a controversial one to say the least. Many thought Micah Richards deserved the call instead. But now armed with the knowledge of hindsight, it looks like Hodgson was right to decide on Johnson.
Johnson’s biggest test came in the opening match as he was faced against Franck Ribery of France. Never once was he out matched or overpowered, solidifying his spot as a reliable right-back.
Scott Parker: 7/10
A stalwart holding midfielder is needed in this kind of set up and Parker is playing the role excellently. The Tottenham midfielder may be now just nearing his 20th cap for England at age 31, but those decades of experience playing at a high level are as apparent as ever this tournament.
Steven Gerrard: 9/10
The English captain has had a remarkable tournament thus far engineering play through the midfield. Having to go the first two games without Wayne Rooney, Gerrard is the most experienced player in the attack and has been the one the others look to to make something happen. And has he ever with two assists total, as well as leading the team with 4.3 tackles per game.
Ashley Young: 6/10
Perhaps the biggest disappointment for England thus far has been the play of Young. The up and downs he experienced at Manchester United last season are carrying over into this tournament as he is yet to truly influence the attack the way one would expect. Rooney coming back into the mix helped a bit as he is able to move back out wide where he is comfortable, but still more is needed out of him.
James Milner: 6/10
With numbers that are almost identical to Young’s, Milner has had just as much of an irrelevance in the play. With his duties being more on defense than the attack, what he contributes is more subtle, but he still has to be a bigger playmaker in the offensive third to take some of the pressure off the forwards.
Danny Welbeck: 7.5/10
It’s a lot to ask of a young player to lead your team up front. Especially when that player relies more on teammates to get him the ball to be effective. But Welbeck has served this capacity surprisingly well. With that incredible back heel volley, he gave England a crucial three points against Sweden. For a forward, it does not matter what you do for 90 minutes as long as you get that one goal that sends your team to victory.
Andy Carroll: 7/10
Likewise to Welbeck, Carroll has not been a stunner in any of the times he played, but when starting against Sweden, he got the opening goal which proved crucial in the win. Though it was a relatively easy header, a goal is a goal, and it had to make fans happy to see him on the scoreboard.
Wayne Rooney: 6.5/10
The rust was showing for Rooney in the opening half of his first game at Euros. He missed a pretty easy header and should have done better on a few passes. However, he did do what all good forwards must and that is manage to score, even if it was a tap in. He will only get better as the tournament goes on, but it will have to be fast if he wants to play beyond the weekend.
Theo Walcott: 8/10
For the life of me I cannot figure out why Walcott is not starting. He has been incredibly more productive than Milner, who he has twice come on for. His speed and technique are vastly superior and he offers much more in the way of a goal scoring threat than anyone else on the entire squad. His goal against Sweden was an excellent strike and he should have more chances at them.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin: 6/10
The pace and pressure of this type of tournament is weighing on the teenager. He started the first match, but showed he was in over his head early as his mind was moving faster than his legs. Ox needs to be utilized as a late sub to spark some life, but cannot be relied on for anything more than a change of pace.
Jordan Henderson and Jermaine Defoe: N/A
Both made late appearances in the first match against France, but weren't in long enough to accurately rate their performance.
What Are Your Ratings?
As you can see, I gave fairly high ratings to a majority of the players. That is because I make no excuse for grading based on results. England got the results it wanted and is now in excellent position to advance further in this tournament. For that reason it is difficult for me to be critical, as sports is a results based industry, not process.
But perhaps your views differ. There are plenty of others factors that could influence ratings so what are yours? How would you rate the English player’s group matches?
As always, please leave your comments below and thanks for reading.
For all my articles, follow me on Twitter: @thecriterionman