World Cup 2010: England: A Squad That Failed To Deliver

Paul AustinCorrespondent IJune 27, 2010

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 27:  Dejected Wayne Rooney of England with team mates after being knocked out of the tournament during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Germany and England at Free State Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Once again, the British media built up an England side as favorites to win the World Cup. Once again, the British public dared to believe. And, once again, the end result wasn't even nearly delivered.

It was an abject performance, from an abject squad, that failed to justify the hype surrounding their abilities.



Rob Green

A lot of people have jumped to the defense of Robert Green, but ultimately, he was responsible for the goal that began the debacle that was England's World Cup campaign.

It was something that should never have happened, and especially not at that level.

David James 

Although it was heavily disguised by a slight injury, "Calamity" James was effectively dropped for the first game, and only recalled after Green's error.

After his recall, James played adequately and can even be described as a candidate for England's man of the match in the round-of-16 game against Germany.

The fact that England lost the game 4-1 and he can be considered as a possible man of the match really does emphasize how poor the England performance was.

Joe Hart

Didn't play.


Michael Dawson

Called up, as a late replacement for the injured Ferdinand, but never played.

Instead, Capello chose to play Terry out of position on the right side of a center back pairing.

Ashley Cole

A very average performance from the Chelsea star.

The best left back in the world?

That's what the media told us, but I don't think that's what we saw.

Seemed to have difficulties at times with knowing whether he should be forward or back, and wasn't helped by the fact that his manager wasn't sure who should be playing in front of him.

Glen Johnson 

Two yellow cards, and could have been more.

Caught out defensively on occasions. Not least in the final game.

John Terry

Again, average, but nothing spectacular, for most of the campaign.

However, when dragged out of position for the final match, he became part of perhaps the worst England defensive performance in history.

What was the coach thinking?

Jamie Carragher 

An attempt by the coach to be clever. Bringing in a veteran to cover right back, who could also play at center back.

Some would argue he played at neither.

Came on as a sub in the first game, and his lack of speed was exposed. And ended up being suspended after the second, where he again demonstrated his speed was no longer sufficient for this level.

He was so slow that he wasn't really considered for the final game. Capello kept faith with Upson. And even late on, when Johnson limped off, he wasn't considered in that position either, with the coach opting for the diminutive Wright-Phillips instead.

Stephen Warnock 

Didn't Play.

Matthew Upson 

He scored a goal, which is more than can be said for Rooney, Heskey, and Crouch, but on the other hand, he didn't defend.

Upson was possibly the weakest link, in the weakest defense, in the weakest performance by an England side ever.

His defending was appalling, and his distribution was so poor I wouldn't even trust him to pass a message to someone standing next to him.

Ledley King 

Famous for his injury-plagued body, King lived up to his reputation, and got injured.


Gareth Barry 

There are those who argue Barry gives England balance. He does, however, he doesn't bring quality with it, and his passing is often sloppy.

I was one of those people arguing years ago, long before he was a regular squad member, that Barry should have been brought into the squad, because he's a reasonable player, who can play in a number of positions,  and is therefore useful cover.

He'd still make for useful cover, but first-team regular he ain't!

Michael Carrick 

Didn't play.

Joe Cole 

A star for England in previous tournaments, playing wide on the left, but was restricted to cameos in this tournament.

Not sure that Capello likes him. Not sure that Capello knows where to play him. Not sure why he was selected then?

Cole spent the tournament doing a passable impersonation of an afterthought.

Steven Gerrard

Poor in the first game, poor in the second, played OK in the third, and was sometimes selfish in the fourth.

Selected as the captain, in place of the injured Ferdinand, but his lack of leadership on the pitch was particularly noticeable in the game against Algeria.

In his defense, he was played out of position for most of the tournament. However, he failed to live up to the hype, and at age 30, like a lot of the squad, this was possibly his last chance.

Frank Lampard 

Scored the goal that never was, rattled the woodwork, and had a good shot saved.

Aside from a few brief moments like these, he was generally anonymous.

Can Gerrard and Lampard play together, asked the media.

Aged 30 and 32, respectively, isn't it a little too late to be asking?

Aaron Lennon 

One of two right wingers to be selected for Capello's squad, and one of two right wingers who failed to impress.

Ran a lot. Ran quickly. It's just a shame he couldn't do much with the ball.

In the end, Capello opted to play Milner (selected initially to play on the left) on the right.

James Milner

Selected as a left-sided player. Was substituted in the first game, apparently feeling unwell, and then shifted to the right for the rest of the campaign.

Was certainly an improvement on Lennon, and as such, whilst nothing spectacular, is one of the few England players who can return home without feeling too ashamed of their performances.

Shaun Wright-Phillips 

Selected as a right winger, and then used bizarrely in preference to Cole, on the left, when Milner was subbed in the first game.

Proved in that game, like Lennon, he's fast, and willing to run all day. Also proved he doesn't have a left foot, and was therefore wasted on the left side.


Wayne Rooney 

Didn't Play.

Oh, hang on, it says on the team sheets here that he was an ever present!

One of the world's best players, the British media said.

Not on these performances.

What is it now, eight World Cup appearances, and no goals?

He looked out of sorts, out of form, and his biggest contribution to the tournament was attacking the fans on camera after they booed the side for playing appallingly.

Emile Heskey 

Let's make no bones about it. If you want goals, you'd be better picking your dog to play in a team over Emile Heskey.

He doesn't do goals.

Heskey's purpose is to allow other strikers to play off him, people like Michael Owen or Wayne Rooney.

The problem is Owen wasn't selected for the squad and Rooney never really turned up.

So what is Heskey's purpose then?

It's one of life's mysteries. However, despite the fact that he has an international goals per game ratio slightly lower than a blind donkey's, he was still the man sent on to play when England went three goals down in their final match.

Jermain Defoe

There are still doubts about Jermain Defoe's international pedigree, but he did score for England at this World Cup, and that's about as rare as a virgin in a brothel these days. For that, I guess, he can hold his head up.

Peter Crouch 

Despite having the best goals per game ratio of England's strikers, Crouch was only used by Capello for one brief cameo performance.

The Coach:

Fabio Capello 

Dropped his most experienced goalkeeper, it failed.

Played Terry out of position in the final match, that failed.

Picked two left sided midfielder's, and then played Gerrard out there, and saw Gerrard underperform.

Brought back the injury-prone Ledley King, and watched him get injured.

Brought back the aging Jamie Carragher, and found he was too old.

Picked two right wingers, and barely played them.

Substituted one of England's only goalscorers, when they were chasing three goals, and replaced him with the English striker with the worst goals per game ratio.

Two years, 27 matches later, has England really improved?

Before the tournament, some people placed the English team amongst the favorites, but four games later, they showed that place was unmerited. The hype surrounding some of their players, which was used to sell replica shirts and other merchandise, was well and truly unwarranted.

Some English pundits have referred to this squad as the golden generation, but to me, it looked like a cheap, plastic replica generation.


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