After the US game I wrote, “Glen Johnson confirmed that he is good going forward but vulnerable in defence, and like the centre-backs he will be cruelly exposed later in the tournament, if there is a later.” After the Algeria game I repeated, “The defence is a disaster waiting to happen…”
The defence against Germany was a shambles. If the Germans hadn’t exposed them, Argentina would have done. The midfield failed to dominate a single match. We missed Beckham terribly. Milner was the only one of three wingers who could cross a ball successfully.
The jury is no longer out on Lampard and Gerrard. They cannot play together in the same team. Four managers have tried and failed. There is an argument that Gerrard could have played close behind Rooney. We will never know, because Capello never tried it. The strikers were a total failure, except for Defoe’s goal against Slovenia, and Rooney’s shot against the post later in the same match.
Should Capello continue as England manager? Obviously not. England played abysmally in every game, scoring three goals and conceding five. They had the easiest group in the tournament. Had they scored a single goal against Algeria, they would have had the easiest possible run through to the semi-finals, and they couldn’t even manage that. They were playing in perfect conditions: cool weather in the first World Cup played in the winter for years, two evening matches, all perfect for English football. The goal Robert Green let in, Gareth Barry trying to catch a German player leading to the third goal, the appearance of Emile Heskey in place of Defoe when England needed to score three times: these are all unforgettable images of incompetence.