Well, from tonight's performance, if certain members of the first XI remain to start against the Slovenians, they should be counting themselves lucky. Individual players who grace the EPL
looking as if they're afraid to take the bull by the horns, even as a novice matador. England were lethargic out there, for some reason that I don't think the players even know. They know one thing, and that is it isn't working out there when needed, when allowed, when opened to them.
Emile Heskey should have played his last England game period, much less in the tournament. He was a decent addition to experiment with in the qualifiers, likewise Michael Owen, if just to get the other players to blend in and gel as one. Tonight, he was not up to standard, and I don't know why. His performance culminated in one moment when he was released down our right, proceeded to step over and get his feet caught up almost, only to end his effort with a cross that eluded everybody, even the goal.
Wayne Rooney was again in and out of the game, but on a worse level. Touches let him down, passing likewise and he wasn't getting a good run of the ball to make himself noticed, where he usually steps immediately into space to receive and makes an effort out of nothing. ITV cameras caught him at the end stating how shameful it was to be booed off by your own fans. When England play a stinking game like tonight, be lucky it's only boos, Wayne.
Glen Johnson - fantastic going forward, questionable in defence of late, hardly seen going forward and being creative tonight as he usually is. If there was someone substantial to replace him, I would contemplate it heavily. Number of times he was caught out at the back on runs, he was so slow to react when clearing the ball at one point and was fortunate to get a free-kick for it. There were times he got a good foot or block in but the other times should not have happened.
Jamie Carragher - keen, die-hard, may have come too late now for his cherished role in central defence. Incredible that he still conducted himself to not only give a potential good dead-ball moment to Algeria with a free-kick, but got himself booked as well to miss out on the Slovenia game. Maybe a blessing in disguise for Michael Dawson to step in at last (for those who love to point it out like desperate schoolteachers out of work, I said 'Michael', and not 'Matt').
John Terry was his usual self, although in the second half he tended to get himself penalised for challenges under which Karim Matmour took the invitation to go down readily. His back pass almost played in Algeria, something which I just couldn't believe from him. Gareth Barry looked afraid to come forward with the ball, instead looking to get rid of it at any moment once inside the Algerian half, and we still could not utilise Aaron Lennon along the wings with his pace.
All in all, I would make changes. Urgency is required now throughout the 90mins+, and not every now and then. Carragher is out so Dawson comes in. Heskey should be out to allow for Peter Crouch or Jermaine Defoe. Joe Cole MUST come in to start. If Milner is fit, I would include him as well. There are players on that bench raring to go while a first XI has twice lacked in providing the goods. Changes are imminent, Fabio. My team for Wednesday against Slovenia:
We'll see. Slovenia were jokers earlier on and should have qualified via 6pts but the Americans have a good level of talent and persevered as the Slovenians took their 2-0 lead for granted. As it stands in our group, if we draw again and the USA do likewise, we're out. The way we've been, we're not conceding from open play but we're not scoring equally at the front. With a squad consisting of the captain and vice-captain, creators in Milner and J Cole, and the likes of Rooney and Defoe, not to mention Crouch, that is not up to standard.
The Slovenians were slouchers at 2-0 up so they do work towards getting a lead, something we should bear in mind. I suspect the USA can beat Algeria and we therefore MUST beat Slovenia to ensure qualification. It is paramount, pivotal, essential, there is nothing else but a win to achieve on Wednesday, and if we start off on our feet for the first 20-25mins, we can do just that.