The George Cohen Column: Who did we frighten? Who have we given a warning to? No one at all
Sunday 11 June 2006
There's nothing wrong with patriotism but you can't let the emotions get in the way. OK, we won, but you have to say: just a minute, who did we frighten here? Who have we given a warning to? The answer is: no one at all.
It was an own-goal that won us the match. I don't believe we created more than a couple of chances in each half. I don't feel we put much together to make us look a particularly threatening side. There are several problems but one major one, I think. We need people going past full-backs and getting behind defences - something we didn't do in the whole of this game.
Stewart Downing did a lot of running when he came on but it's obvious that the boy has not got the speed to go past full-backs and it was crying out for someone to take on Paraguay's right-back. We were far too static on the left wing and across on the other flank I have to say I don't think David Beckham played very well.
Yes, he delivered the free-kick that was headed in by the Paraguay captain and did work up and down the line a bit, but there was no real movement on our right wing, which is a bad sign. The other teams we have to play will have taken note of that. We have a kid on the bench who needs to be played there: Aaron Lennon. He's got the speed to take him past people. We need to get people going on the outside of defences if we're to use Crouch in the best possible way and that didn't happen yesterday.
If you counted the deliveries Beckham made - mostly from dead-balls - out of seven of them, five were off target. You've got the biggest guy in the world to aim at and what happens? He hits them low. You might say that Sven Goran Eriksson would never drop Beckham but I recall people saying we'll never drop Gary Lineker and we'll never drop Jimmy Greaves.
I know the term "wingless wonders" was used about us when we won the World Cup in 1966 but we had people who broke out wide. We did use wingers - Terry Paine, Ian Callaghan - but Alf Ramsey thought a 4-3-3 formation best suited the players we had. We had Alan Ball pushing out wide on the right and Martin Peters ghosting down the left. The fact is we got a lot of goals from the wings.
There were other causes for concern yesterday. I don't think Ashley Cole looked 100 per cent fit, physically or mentally. We looked a bit vulnerable at left-back. I thought Steven Gerrard was the difference between the teams in the first half but he tailed off in the second half. We had no control in midfield after the interval. We had no movement down the right, no movement down the left, and the pressure was always on us.
On the positive side, I thought Peter Crouch did extremely well but Eriksson has got to think about who he plays with him if Micheal Owen is going to keep going on and off, on and off. We've got to pray that we don't get any more injuries to our strikers and that Wayne Rooney is going to be able to play in the latter stages of the tournament. We need Jermain Defoe, I think. It was folly to send him back home and keep the midfielder Owen Hargreaves.
The good thing is we may have done enough to get through to the next round, because if we don't beat Trinidad & Tobago we don't deserve to be there. I'm sorry but I can't be happy about the way we played. People might say, "Well what about the results we usually get in opening games?" And they'd be quite right. I just hope the second game is a lot better.
George Cohen was talking to Simon Turnbull
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