England Getting Better (World Cup Braindump #8)

by Steve

England squeezed through. This was not an easy passage to the second round, and even if there were encouraging signs from yesterday’s game against Slovenia, England will need to step up considerably on Sunday against Germany. But we all know that, right? I mean it’s not as if England’s supporters are going to get carried away on a wave of jingoism and misplaced optimism is it? Oh. Well, anyway, here’s some more thoughts…

  • Finally, the England players seemed capable of sticking to their position and to their allocated jobs. If you can’t be inspired, at least be organised. If this discipline can be built upon, maybe there is a chance.
  • It was good to see a little more thought going into everything yesterday. It was as if the players were told to wait just that extra half-second when in possession, in order to make the right decision and not give the ball away cheaply.
  • I was glad to see Rooney go off for three reasons. One – he appeared to be getting increasingly frustrated at not scoring, and so was shooting when there were far more sensible options available. Two – there was the ever-growing risk of the red mist descending. Three – he’d picked up a knock, and it really wasn’t worth risking a more serious injury. This was good management from Capello.
  • Joe Cole is a good player, don’t get me wrong, but he isn’t quite the answer to all our prayers.
  • Gareth Barry looked very rusty. He can’t keep giving the ball away like that. I’m hoping he’s getting fitter and that will resolve this.
  • Stevie Gerrard is really growing into the captain’s role. He doesn’t need to bark orders or punch his chest, he just leads by example, and brings players into the game. If he has a good game on Sunday, England will be there or thereabouts.
  • The Germans have been inconsistent, look a little shaky at the back, and have a few key injury worries. But, they are still one of the best sides in the tournament. However, if England can get their act together, they must be in with a chance. What price penalties?
  • England were just one goal from first place in the group and a far easier route to the semi-finals. USA have Ghana, followed by either Uruguay or South Korea. England have Germany, followed by either Argentina or Mexico. I’m not too bothered though. If you want to become World Champions, you have to beat the best sides. No matter what route you take, you are going to come up against a top side sooner or later. And let’s be honest, the USA deserved to top the group. They just don’t give up, do they?
  • I also have a suspicion that England may well play better against a stronger side, who are not reliant on keeping nine men behind the ball at all times. If the game opens up, England can take advantage.

EDIT: I just read this over, and I think it is far too optimistic. England just beat Slovenia. If Germany are in any sort of form, England are in big trouble. England need several players to improve – none more than the talisman Rooney. There are far too many ifs and buts to be confident right now.