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At the highest level of the game, we are often reminded that keeping possession is vital, both in terms scoring yourselves and also stopping your opponent.
However, all too often during tonight's match, Three Lions gifted possession back to their opponents, either looking for the difficult pass when a simple one would do, or tossing a hopeful ball forward under pressure. No one player was guilty. All were accountable.
77.7% - England completed 77.7% of their passes in the first half; their lowest accuracy of the qualifying campaign. Wayward. @iainmacintosh
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe)
Which begs the question once more: Why no Michael Carrick?
Carrick has made a career of keeping play ticking over while recycling the ball for his side, a skill which remains more revered on the continent than among the home nations. He has matured into an excellent deep-lying playmaker, and bar a couple of nightmare evenings at the hands of Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi in Rome (2009) and London (2011), his consistency has been startling in the last three/four years.
Nonetheless, with captain Steven Gerrard now playing in a deep-lying midfield role—that preferred by Carrick—his chances of a starting role in the upcoming season look somewhat moot at international level.
England's midfield trio—Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere—still have a propensity for giving possession away too easily, shown once again tonight and it is something which will only get worse against better nations.
It remains something Carrick could help with.