Mexico, Brazil and Portugal all did it. Croatia did it first time round and then inadvertently slumped during round 2. All these nations showed the English how to keep the ball. The 3-1 result did much to paper over the cracks of a team who looked, surprisingly, fearful in possession. Each not wanting to make a mistake. The mindset was typified by the central midfield pairing of James Milner and Michael Carrick in Fabio’s 4-2-3-1 system.
The performance of Carrick left much to be desired. Given a starting role with the voluntary absence of what, ITV repeatedly refered to as, “The Chelsea Boys” making Messrs Cole X2, Terry and Lampard sound like a substandard West end act. Carrick gifted possession to the Mexican’s time and time again and looked to have lost any of the grace, calm and composure that premier league fans attribute to the man from Gateshead. His partner in midfield, Milner, gave a solid if unspectacular performance. He looked weighed down by the occasion of playing in front of 88,00 fans. The growing speculation over his future may have had a further effect on the youngster and it may prove vital for England that his future is sorted before the highly anticpated World Cup opener.
NBOP has noticed, through twitter, and various other media outlets, that many deduced from last night’s events that Capello has discarded Heskey. Not likely. We saw yesterday that England’s previously fluid 4-2-3-1 system became stagnant and immobile. The presence of Crouch hinders the flow of the team. Heskey is more mobile than the goalgetting Crouch and holds the ball up more effectively and more efficiently.
When Theo Walcott grabbed a hat-trick in Zagreb England’s goalscorers and creators gained the plaudits. However, the key to England’s system that night and the tactical key to many other victories is Emile Heskey. He acts as a pivot for the attacking trio of Gerrard, Rooney and Walcott. NBOP guarantees that if you asked Maza Rodrigues, last night, or Josep Simunic, that night in Zagreb, whether they would find it tougher marking Heskey or Crouch the answer is always Heskey.
So why didn’t Heskey feature last night? Simple. Heskey is a consistent performer and the manager knows exactly what he is going to get when he puts Emile’s name on the team sheet. So unfortunately for many of the country’s football “experts” Heskey will not be discarded, thrown away, dumped or anything other than played.
p.s was it the night of garish fashion choices last night? Those horrendous orange and silver boots that they all had on and Joe Hart/ Rob Green’s bananramafied yellow ‘keepers shirt!