Fabio Capello is paid close to $10 million a year to make the big decisions.
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Not the popular decisions. Not the decisions I may want.
But the right decisions.
However, countries rarely win World Cups with inexperienced goalkeepers — the pressure is too great and mistakes are amplified tenfold.
England’s manager made the biggest gamble of his managerial career in Rustenburg selecting Robert Green as his starting ‘keeper because the West Ham stopper is about as raw as they come with just 10 national team appearances to his name.
The gamble not only backfired, it exploded in his face.
Regardless of this result, England entered the tournament without a number one goalkeeper in place and it has cost them dearly. Green psychologically must be finished, and in all honesty, I’ve not seen an English ‘keeper concede such a soft goal since Ray Clemence let a little dribbler from Kenny Dalglish go through his legs in 1976.
With Clemence on the England bench as the goalkeeping trainer, I’d love to be a fly on the wall and see how he goes about picking Green up.
Up until that Clint Dempsey effort, England was pretty much in charge of this match. And there were certainly more positives than negatives as England completely dominated most of the first half and the entire second half.
Emile Heskey, who doesn’t score but seemingly makes those around him better, looked solid and his lay-off for Steven Gerrard to score was the perfect example of link play from your target man. However, his miss when clean through on U.S. keeper Tim Howard is the question mark that will always surround him.
The combination of Glen Johnson and Aaron Lennon was sparkling, despite the final ball being disappointing, and you feel like as they progress and mature they can only get better.
The same could be said for Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips as they propped the left hand side. They also looked bright, dangerous and ever willing to cause problems.
Whether Gerrard and Frank Lampard are the midfield answer in terms of creativity is still up for debate, however they did a fair enough job holding down the center of the field while up front Wayne Rooney was his usual busy self but did look just a little off his normal pace.
The negatives were very few. Apart from Green’s error and a lack of concentration at set pieces I liked what I saw except the following:
The injury to Ledley King could be huge.
Jamie Carragher simply doesn’t have the pace at this level
James Milner was desperately disappointing.
A failure to finish all the chances also left a sour taste. But on the strength of this performance, England will advance quite comfortably from Group C.
Marks (out of 10)
Robert Green – 3
Glen Johnson – 7
Ledley King – 5
John Terry – 6
Ashley Cole – 7
Aaron Lennon – 8
Steven Gerrard – 7
Frank Lampard – 6
James Milner – 3
Emile Heskey – 6
Wayne Rooney – 7
Shaun Wright-Phillips – 6
Jamie Carragher – 4
Nick Webster is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering the English national team and the Barclay’s Premier League.