Food For Thought For Fabio Capello As England Power Through
England can be content, if not totally thrilled with their nights work as they overcame African Nations Cup winners Egypt 3-1 after a second-half resurgence at Wembley.
Mohammed Zidan steered the visitors ahead mid-way through the first half after a slip by Matthew Upson, but a brace by substitute Peter Crouch and a fumbled Shaun Wright-Phillips strike saw England home.
England took the field in their new away strip; partly resembling the shirt worn by the countries World Cup winning team of 1966, but for nearly an hour that was the only parallel onlookers could draw between the home team, and that side from yesteryear, as an efficient Egyptian side controlled the early stages.
Fabio Capello gave plenty of answers to his intentions for his starting eleven at the World Cup finals this summer with his selection, with Robert Green starting in goal at the expense of David James and Joe Hart.
Given James’ age you have to wonder why he’s being selected at all for the squad if he’s not first choice, and in this friendly environment not giving Hart some much needed experience is an oversight, but it further maintains that the West Ham keeper is No.1 for the foreseeable future, and is unlikely to budge.
Leighton Baines seems to have won the battle at left-back over Stephen Warnock, but it again seemed strange that with such a dilemma in that position, with or with Ashley Cole, that the Aston Villa left back wasn’t given a run-out in the closing stages.
In mid-field Theo Walcott was preferred to both James Milner and Shaun Wright-Phillips, but in truth the performance of Walcott left a lot to be desired and his place in the squad for South Africa is under serious jeopardy, not just because of his own inept display, but because of the encouraging showing by Wright-Phillips.
He may not be first choice for his club Manchester City, but his performance on Wednesday night, which included a goal and an assist of Crouch’s second, was enough to suggest that he’ll be majorly considered for this summer.
Up-front Jermaine Defoe partnered Wayne Rooney, and as on so many occasions without Emile Heskey, Rooney looked distinctly quiet in his national colors, if Capello learned anything from Defoe’s performance it was that he doesn’t bring the best out of England’s talisman.
The central two of Garth Barry and Frank Lampard can be happy with their night’s work, safe in the knowledge they’re assured a starting role in South Africa, and maybe even Michael Carrick can starting packing his bags as well after an assured performance.
Steven Gerrard however still looks a bit lost in an England shirt, and Baines’ unwillingness to get forward, understandable on his debut, meant England were hopelessly narrow at times- Ashley Cole is unlikely to be as reserved when fit though.
Gerrard took the captaincy in place of the injured Rio Ferdinand, but it was the circus surrounding England’s former skipper John Terry that intensified again as the Wembley crowd booed and jeered the Chelsea player.
I understand that having paid up to £40 for a ticket to Wednesday nights match the crowd are permitted to make their feelings heard, however maybe they should try cheering on a player who, when on form is crucial to England hopes at regaining the World Cup, rather than booing one of their own. It was frankly pathetic.
Along with Capello overlooking Hart and Warnock, he refused to given Stuart Downing a run-out, while Carlton Cole was given just five minutes to impress.
Both players have been out of action for some time, and are far from assured a place in the final 23-man squad and for them to be given scant reward for their encouraging league form must have been disappointing.
The Italian will name his provisional squad for the finals on 16th May, so opportunities to impress are few and far between. The jostling for position starts now.
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