The George Cohen Column: Time for Sven to do the unthinkable and drop Beckham - for sake of pace

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The Independent Football

If there's one lesson that we have to learn (and that we should never have had to learn) from England's performance against Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday, it's that Steven Gerrard should play where he is most potent: where he scores his goals from. In the FA Cup final in Cardiff and again in Nuremberg, he showed just how lethal he can be in that particular position - coming late, behind the opposition, latching on to anything that's outside the area. He is becoming quite deadly.

The unfortunate thing on Thursday was that he was rarely mentioned until he scored. That's because he has was playing a subservient role to Frank Lampard, who was seriously out of sorts. The way these two play together in central midfield should have been sorted out long ago. The fact that we still have to resolve it at this stage is absolutely outrageous. At the moment it doesn't look as if they know what they're supposed to be doing.

When Gerrard does go forward, he's looking far more impressive than Lampard, who seems much better suited to filling the holding role. The way that Gerrard has taken his two sensational goals recently, in the Cup final and on Thursday night, should be a lesson that is learned. He's the one who should be playing forward. It's where he's at his best.

Let's face it, Thursday was again a very substandard performance. Quite frankly, it was getting a bit fraught until the 83rd minute, when David Beckham had the time and space to get in the one cross that punished the opposition. Thank God for John Terry's intervention, when he made that magnificent clearance off the line. We would have been in dire trouble if that had gone in the net.

We were poor. We were stereotyped and mundane. We were a disjointed team - a very disjointed team. There was no wing movement until Aaron Lennon came out on to the right and we started getting round the end of defences, something I mentioned a week ago that we desperately needed to do.

I just cannot understand why Beckham is moving more and more into the middle of the park to try to do the same things that Gerrard and Lampard are doing. He seems to want to be involved in everything yet gets involved in nothing. It makes us so narrow, playing in a channel through the middle - unless Joe Cole moves out wide on the left, and he likes to come in on his right foot anyway. We're lacking good wide movement. If you get people out wide it spreads the opposition defence. Then you start getting holes, like the one where Gerrard struck his wonderful goal.

I think Sven Goran Eriksson has got to make up his mind and bring Lennon into the team. He's got the kind of speed you need. If you get in behind defences, it opens up so many more options.

Beckham did get in that looping cross for Peter Crouch's goal but he had another poor game. The fact is, he's reduced to taking the corners and the free-kicks. He's just not got the speed to take him down the wings. If he was playing American football, they could bring him on to take the kicks and then take him off again, but unfortunately in this game you can't do that.

I'm told the last time he even scored a free-kick for England was three years ago. That's a hell of a long time. Are we saying that Gerrard and Lampard can't deliver some of these kicks? Of course they can do it.

It might not be popular with the management to leave him out, but I'm afraid we cannot continue to play like we have been playing. You will get nowhere against the Spanish, the Italians or the Germans if you don't have wing movement, if you just hit long balls from deep. Unless the team is changed, I don't believe we are going to be able to improve.

I can't help looking at the German team and seeing what Michael Ballack is doing. I think the Germans are looking better with every game - I'd much rather we played against Ecuador - and they've got Ballack, running the game for them, controlling the tempo. It's slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. And when he hits balls into the box, time after time he hits his target. He makes the opposition work.

If I had to pick out one player who is playing the way we should be playing it would be Ballack. I could pick out a lot of teams who are looking far better than we are at the moment: Argentina, Spain, Italy, Germany. I believe we have the potential to do far better - but only if Sven is brave enough to make the changes he needs to. And we've seen nothing since the last World Cup to suggest he might do that, I'm afraid.

George Cohen, England's 1966 World Cup winner, was talking to Simon Turnbull

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