England must solve a pressing problem

Capello confronts lack of midfield pressure and defensive mistakes which took the shine off 3-1 friendly win

Fabio Capello admitted that England were far from the finished article last night after a 3-1 victory over fellow World Cup qualifiers Mexico was undermined by a lack of midfield intensity and defensive lapses which the manager knows could be punished dearly in South Africa next month.

Peter Crouch's 21st goal in 38 internationals seriously promoted his case to pay a leading role in South Africa, on a night when Emile Heskey was not deployed alongside Wayne Rooney, as did the back-post header from the Tottenham striker which set up Ledley King's opener. But King, who later admitted it had "not been one of his better games," suffered several defensive lapses and Capello was unhappy by a lack of aggression which allowed Mexico too much possession during a first half during which they might have scored three times.

"We have to press more," said Capello. "Not all the teams we play against will play like this – this was a different style. But you know that, for me, it's very important to press the ball and win it back quickly."

Michael Carrick's performance was particularly disappointing and Capello, who will learn today whether Gareth Barry's has recovered from ankle ligament damage to be able to play a part in the 23-man final squad, was forced to move Steven Gerrard into a central midfield role after the break, which created more solidity, moving James Milner out to the left. "I changed it after half-time and [Steven] played very well," Capello said. "He's a really good player and can play in midfield, as a No10, in different positions. I learned that something more you have to do during the game in midfield. He can play there with [Frank] Lampard, but we have to wait and see which players will be fit."

Capello hinted that he was not happy with the central midfield combination of Milner and Carrick, with Tom Huddlestone arriving in place of the Manchester United player on the hour. "It was not an easy game to play against. Mexico had a lot of touches, a lot of movement with the ball, really good, and normally our players [including Barry] are really good in midfield. We never suffered a lot during World Cup qualification. This time, I put two different players in, like Milner who's played in midfield this year, and Carrick. But you know more things about their movement with or without the ball when you watch them play. The level of the quality of the players in a World Cup is normally really high."



Video: Mexico result boosts England

The latest Rooney injury concern saw the striker ask to leave the field with a neck problem two minutes before the end. "He said he had a small problem in his neck, but no problem," Capello said. "He wanted to come off. I'd made all the substitutions so it was impossible to change. But it was only his neck. No problems. Rooney is OK, no? No problems. He needs at this moment to play and find his good form."

Though Glen Johnson also scored a superb goal, weaving through the Mexican defence to unleash a left-foot shot just after the interval, he also gave Capello grounds for concern defensively and Leighton Baines looked particularly troubled at left-back. But on the positive side, Manchester City's Adam Johnson offered a glimpse of his threat despite having only six minutes to demonstrate his worth and Theo Walcott also several tantalising glimpses of is ability to unlock a game.

Despite hints that he might be ready to change's his formation to deploy Rooney as a solitary striker served by two wingers, Capello started with a 4-4-2 formation and opted to use Glen Johnson at right back rather than Jamie Carragher, whose opportunity arrived when Rio Ferdinand was substituted at half time. Carragher was subjected to mild boos when he ran on.

King's first England goal in six years came on 17 minutes, with Crouch doubling it on 35 minutes, though he was offside when Rooney sent a header against the bar which rebounded onto his arm and into the net. Guillermo Franco earned Mexico's deserved reply just before the break but Johnson's first goal in an England jersey followed two minutes after half time.

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape