Jake Farrell puts himself in a certain Italian’s almost certainly handmade, size 9’s
Fabio Capello, after so many months as the darling of English football, is now experiencing what it is like to provoke the ire of the British tabloid press. England’s dismal display against Algeria emphatically highlights the need for change whether it be in terms of personnel, tactics or both. Fabio’s is not a position that I envy but if I was in his shoes now I would start by making some bold statements.
Frank Lampard should be dropped. The Chelsea midfielder is the fulcrum of his sides attacking intentions in the Premier League but in the white of his country he seems stifled and scared. Where is the rapier like range of passing that makes him so feared? Where are the potent late runs that so often end in rifled finishes? He is little more than a sideways ball merchant for England and he should make way to let Steven Gerrard of the leash.
The England captain is, apart from Wayne Rooney, his sides most important player and, just like they are for Rooney, allowances should be made to make sure he is at his best. Omitting Lampard would allow Gerrard to be England’s driving force in the middle of the park, safe in the knowledge that Gareth Barry would be screening the back four. Pushing Gerrard into a wide position to accommodate Lampard simply diminishes the threat of his play and allows a lesser player to hold the pivotal central role.
Elsewhere Joe Cole should be given his chance on the left. He has proven his ability to perform on the world stage and may provide the guile needed to spark England’s lacklustre offensive play. Whilst others seem stymied by the pressure of the occasion Cole invariably turns in a performance – his stunning 35 yard volley against Sweden at the last World Cup is a testament to that.
Sean Wright- Phillips has done little in almost 90 minutes of football to suggest that he has shaken off the naiviety and lack of killer instinct that make him such a frustrating player. Capello must stop turning to him as though he will change a game. Cole needs a chance and if he gets one I suspect that he may just take it.
Emile Heskey is also out of time. He has slogged admirably in England’s encounters thus far but supporters that say he helps get the best out of Wayne Rooney have been proven wrong by two turgid displays. Jermaine Defoe will bring a different dynamic to the side and the clinical finishing so absent from Heskey’s game. In the brief period that he was on the pitch against Algeria they looked troubled by his pace and willingness to run in behind. Attributes such as this will scare teams more than Emile’s lumbering bulk.
Defensively Capello’s options are rapidly dwindling. Jamie Carragher was solid on Friday but a second booking in as many games paves the way for Michael Dawson to come into the side. Although I doubt he will get the nod he is a far superior player to Matthew Upson. An impressive presence with and without the ball and a convincing season for an excellent Spurs side make him manifestly more qualified to come into a pressure situation. The lack of his inclusion will further debunk the myth of the meritocracy that Fabio claimed he would engineer.
The main thesis of my changes is to act quickly to freshen a stodgy looking side and to try to end the malaise seemingly hanging over the England camp. Getting Rooney and Gerrard playing well, and together, is vital to this. The time has come for strong actions and decisions. Capello must act decisively and quickly to bring about change England fans can believe in.
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