FIFA World Cup Scores: Evaluating England Coach Fabio Capello's Performance

Ed Wyman@@edwymanCorrespondent IJune 13, 2010

RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 12:  James Milner of England is substituted by Fabio Capello manager of England during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between England and USA at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 12, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Last night a goalkeeping blunder from Robert Green allowed the USA to equalise against an off color England.

Whilst Green's error is unforgivable, especially at international error, he shouldn't be shouldering the blame alone as England reflect on what could've been.

Manager Fabio Capello had an off night. 

Joe Cole had been tipped to start on the left side after impressing since joining up with the England squad.

But instead it was Milner, who had just recovered from the flu, who "got the nod" and looked out of place on the left of midfield.

In fact, he only lasted half an hour, and in that time he picked up a yellow card. He couldn't keep up with the pace of Steve Cherundolo and his late tackling meant he was lucky to be subbed off and not sent off.

When Milner came off he was replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips and the logic behind is easy to see: Milner was getting in trouble due to lack of pace, SWP is fast, problem solved.

In that respect, Capello's substitution worked. Cherundolo was less of a threat and there were no more late tackles on him.

However, SWP didn't have a great game. His pace caused problems, but his poor final balls and below adverage finishing cost England dearly.

Would Joe Cole have been a better option? It must have been a difficult call for Capello as Cole's crossing and passing is better than SWP's.

Ledley King went off at half-time, injured again. This was no fault of Capello's and King, he was the best option to start alongside Terry, and he had to play.

King was replaced by Jamie Carragher. A dubious choice considering the pace of the USA strikers. Carragher was frequently beaten for pace, picking up a yellow card and perhaps deserved another.

With both Upson and Dawson on the bench, did Capello make the right call?

Heskey was picked to partner Wayne Rooney up front for England, as he often has. Heskey started well, setting up England's goal.

However, his incompetence at finishing was once again obvious. He hit a one on one straight at Tim Howard, throwing away a prime chance for England to regain the lead.

When there are goalkeepers with better international scoring records than you, you're in trouble, even if your primary role isn't to score goals.

England cannot afford to have a striker who doesn't score, even if he is contributing elsewhere. 

One decision Capello did get right was the selection of Robert Green. Capello couldn't have planned for Green's howler.

With question marks over James's fitness and Hart's lack of experience, Green was the logical choice.

Whether or not he remains so is another matter.

Another question to consider is whether Capello chose the right formation. Should Gerrard have started behind Rooney rather than in the centre of midfield?

The absence of Barry meant that Gerrard had to play in the centre of midfield. He did a good job there, winning balls and scoring a good goal.

Capello's choices were, for the most part, understandable. Green was fit and had more experience, SWP was quick enough to deal with Cherundolo and Heskey provides assists.

Some choices simply weren't understandable. Why play Milner when he's just been ill? Why bring on a slow and ageing defender when the USA have fast strikers?

It is far too early to trash Capello. For the vast majority of his England career, his decisions have been correct.

A couple of bad decisions shouldn't change anything, as long as he comes back strong on Friday.