Sunday, May 30, 2010

World Cup - England - Part 2

John Terry and Rio Ferdinand have been partners in the England defense for a long time. Maybe too long. I think if you watched video of all the England defenders from this past season, and you couldn't see their faces nor did you know their reputation, you wouldn't even have Terry and Ferdinand in the squad.

Some may argue that their experience and guile makes them better choices than some of the younger central defenders who have had better seasons, but I think talent has to win out at the end of the day.

The same issue arises when one considers Jamie Carragher, whom Fabio Cappello has convinced to rejoin the England Squad. Carragher had a poor season. And he had a poor season in 2008-2009. When you are 32 years old and have had two consecutive bad seasons, you are not in a poor run of form, you are on the decline. There are ten English defenders better than Carragher, and most of them were nowhere near getting in this squad.

Gareth Barry is the holding midfielder, and he is a very good one. He shields the back four, is a great tackler, distributes the ball marvelously, which links the defense and attack, and he will also chip in with the odd goal. There is a problem though. He has a pretty serious ankle injury, that will keep him out of the opening match against the US, and possibly more matches after that.

Barry will be replaced in one of two ways. Michael Carrick could play the holding role. But he is not very good. Otherwise, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard could both play in the middle, with one of them dropping deep. As you can see, neither of these is an especially good option. This won't be enough of a hindrance to keep England from advancing to the knockout stages, but they will need a fit and on form Gareth Barry of they want to progress much farther than that.

That leaves the fullbacks. Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson will start and play 90 minutes every game, so depth is not an issue. Neither defends especially well, but they have such outstanding speed that they can usually cover up for their mistakes.

If England win Group C, and most of the other groups go as expected, their road to the semi-finals is free of traditional powers. This may be the best chance for Merry Old England to lift the World Cup trophy since 1970. Will they? I doubt it, I think the lack of pace in the center of defense will be their undoing, but the chance is there.

No comments: