2010 World Cup Preview: Five Questions England's Capello Must Answer
After England's disappointing performance in the Group C opening draw with the USA, Fabio Capello's team's next match against Algeria has increased in importance.
Ahead of that match the Italian coach has a lot of problems to sort out.
We look at the five questions that Capello must answer.
No. 5: What is his best midfield?
The injury to Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry, and the exclusion of Theo Walcott from his 23-man roster, forced England coach Fabio Capello to field a new-look midfield against the USA.
Despite an early goal, England struggled to dominate the game and get its star striker Wayne Rooney into the game.
Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard once more proved that they are unable to play together in the center of the pitch.
Aston Villa’s James Milner was given a chance on the left, but was substituted after just 30 minutes.
Capello will be hoping Barry is fit enough to start England’s next match against Algeria on June 18.
The holding midfielder will add a stable presence with his tackling and simple passing.
This would free up Steven Gerrard for a move to the left in place of Milner, with Aaron Lennon on the right.
Other options include Joe Cole, who can bring the craft and intelligence that was often missing against USA, and Shaun Wright-Phillips, who replaced Milner on Saturday but missed a great chance to score the winning goal.
No. 4: Should England go for goals against Algeria?
Fabio Capello will have learned two things from day three of the World Cup.
First, that England’s upcoming Group C opponents Slovenia and Algeria are severely lacking in quality.
Second, that free-scoring Germany is a team to be avoided.
The Germans look set to top Group D, after their excellent 4-0 win against Australia.
This would set up a second round clash with the second place team in Group C.
Topping the group by taking six points from its remaining opponents will remain England’s goal.
However, USA also looks capable of beating those two teams and the group’s top spot may be decided by goal difference.
Should Capello send out an attacking side that will look to score a hatful against Algeria, the weakest side in Group C?
Or, having dropped two points already, should the team concentrate on simply winning the game, even if it by just one goal?
No. 3: Who will replace Ledley King?
The gamble hasn’t paid off.
Capello’s decision to include injury-prone Ledley King in his roster has backfired now that the Spurs defender has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament.
King’s replacement at halftime against USA was Jamie Carragher.
The 32-year old Liverpool defender looked vulnerable against the pace of Altidore, but should cope better with Algeria’s more physical approach.
Capello’s other option is Matthew Upson. However, having risked King and persuaded Carragher out of retirement, the Italian has effectively shown a lack of faith in the West Ham player’s ability.
No. 2: Is Heskey still the best partner for Rooney?
The much-derided Emile Heskey is entitled to feel reasonably satisfied with his performance against the USA.
He set up Steven Gerrard’s early goal with a deft touch and certainly played better than his striking partner Wayne Rooney.
But herein lies the problem.
Heskey is in the team because he is supposed to the best foil for England’s star player.
However if Rooney is out-of-sorts, as he was on Saturday, then Heskey’s role becomes somewhat irrelevant unless he can prove himself capable of getting goals.
He had his chance when put through on goal by a fine Aaron Lennon pass and his poor effort straight at the advancing Tim Howard has only increased the doubts about the Aston Villa striker.
Capello may yet be looking at his alternative options—Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defoe—as England need goals against Algeria.
No. 1: Should Rob Green keep his place as goalkeeper?
It was a horrible moment for the West Ham goalkeeper.
Clint Dempsey’s shot should have been a routine save but Green somehow let it slip from his grasp and it slipped, seemingly in slow motion, into his own net.
After such a disastrous, game-changing error you might imagine that Capello will drop Green for England’s next match in favor of one of his two alternatives.
Yet, there are a number of reasons why the England manager will keep faith with the 30-year old.
For a start, Capello may not wish to admit that his decision to start Green ahead of the experienced David James was incorrect.
Only by allowing Green the opportunity to redeem himself with a better performance can Capello prove his own doubters wrong.
By not selecting David James, the Italian will have given the Portsmouth keeper’s confidence a severe blow and he may not be in the right frame of mind for such an important game.
Capello had obviously decided that England’s most in-form goalkeeper Joe Hart was too inexperienced to start against the USA. So it is difficult to see how the Italian’s thinking will have changed.
Rob Green might yet get a second chance against Algeria.