Three reasons why England didn't progress
Published : 25 Jun 2012 12:00:01
1. Stewart Downing - Having been picked over Adam Johnson and Daniel Sturridge most fans would have expected the wide-man to be starting against France in our group opener. Downing is considered more defensively minded than other wingers which would suggest he was the best option to play against France as we would spend large parts of the game without the ball. As we all saw Downing was not used at all during the tournament and is far from an impact player who can inject pace. This brings me onto Sturridge/Johnson, surely either of the pair would make a good case if required for 20-30 minute spells at the end of games. Take yesterdays game for example, with half an hour to go we had Rooney tiring, Young playing poorly and a positive change may have been the difference. Walcott provided us with speed but with Sturridge/Johnson we have players with a bit more quality and the ability to create chances for themselves and Carroll. Together they have netted 17 goals from the wing this season which is more than Downing, Carroll and Welbeck managed this campaign.
2. The ability to keep the ball – We all know that if we were to play Germany in the semi-final Hodgson’s philosophy would be one of the only ways to play against them. However, Italy are a side much closer to us in terms of ability and personnel so we should look to retain the ball and tire their players. This didn’t happen last night and the statistics speak volumes. Italy managed 63% possession of the ball and took 31 shots in total compared to our measly eight. Carroll, Young, Parker and Rooney managed 144 passes together which compared to Pirlo alone who made 131 passes shows just how much work our midfielders had to put in. Also we started very brightly for the opening stages and created a few chances but due to Italy’s dominance as the game went on we were limited to very little to get us out of our seats. The England side needed to be more positive in this quarter-final if they were to qualify but it looked like they settled for a solid defensive performance which they may nick through a set piece. Czech Republic, France and now England have all offered very little in their quarter-final clashes and deserve to be heading home.
3. Wayne Rooney – England managed 4 points from two tough games against France and Sweden without Rooney. Fans and pundits alike were extremely confident that with Rooney back it would boost England’s chances of lifting the trophy. However, Rooney had a distinctly average game against the Ukraine missing two decent chances but did end up scoring the winner with a header from a yard out. His performance against Italy last night was verging on embarrassing as his touch was heavy and looked completely shattered towards the latter stages of the 90 minutes. Rooney has proven he is top class at club level but is dubbed by many as ‘world class’ but we are yet to see this. Since his good performances in 2004 for England Rooney has been a huge disappointment in an England shirt and has failed to light up the top stage on most occasions. In 2006 against Portugal he got sent off and we crashed out in the quarter-final stage on penalties. In the 2010 World cup we were awful and he decided to blast the fans that had paid thousands to watch England draw with Algeria, USA and scrape past Slovenia. Now Rooney has another tournament to add to his CV after two uninspiring performances from him during this campaign.