There have been times when watching England has been something of a relief for a long-suffering Spurs fan, but those days seem to be long past.
Watching this current England side labour to a goalless draw was incredibly frustrating. Against a team like Algeria, you would expect us to have created several chances, but I can’t remember any decent scoring opportunities and I don’t think that this is just because I had a few drinks on Friday night.
It’s baffling when you consider that England qualified for the World Cup reasonably easily, having played pretty much this exact team and formation throughout qualification. The squad are obviously unhappy and unconfident, but most of all I think that we’re suffering due to injuries.
The whole team has been built to get the best out of Wayne Rooney, but he’s not been in form since getting injured against Bayern Munich. We’re also missing Rio Ferdinand and our own Ledley King. Without these players, our defence and Gareth Barry have to play very deep due to their lack of pace, which makes it difficult for us to press the opposition.
It seems as if the players want to play 4-5-1, with Gerrard supporting Rooney and Joe Cole on the left. It certainly seems a better option than the rumours that Capello will play Defoe alongside Rooney.
Defoe and Rooney haven’t really gelled as a combination in the past and having watched Jermain at Tottenham for many years, it’s fair to say that he has struggled to really establish himself in a partnership with anyone. He’s never looked convincing alongside a deep-lying striker like Robbie Keane and I don’t have a great deal of confidence in him leading the line for England.
That’s not to say that Defoe, or Crouch for that matter, couldn’t do a good job against Slovenia and score the goals to put England through. Either are good enough against a team of that standard, but if we’re looking to actually win the World Cup then we need to switch to 4-5-1. We might as well make this switch sooner, rather than later.
Very few teams are playing 4-4-2 these days and having one less player in midfield in every game, is unlikely to help England in their perennial problem of being unable to retain possession.
It’s strange that England have now employed two foreign coaches, both of whom have rigidly stuck to a 4-4-2 formation that the world is turning away from. When we’ve gone with English managers with some tactical nous, such as Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle, they both played with five men in midfield (in very different formations).
Capello does seem like a stubborn fellow and no one would be surprised if he continued playing Rooney in tandem rather than a solo striker. As big as the tactical problems are, it appears that the unrest from behind the scenes is also playing a part. Everyone is the squad talked about Capello’s strictness in positive terms before the tournament, but it seems that England’s pampered players are struggling to cope with his aloofness now that they’re stuck with him for a whole summer.
Could things be worse? Absolutely. I had a cabbie on Saturday morning telling me that England need to pinch Harry from Tottenham. I don’t think that it will happen, but thank god for that impending court case.