By Chris Wright
‘Patchy’ seems to be the buzzword in the press today to describe England’s performance in their 3-1 friendly win over Mexico last night.
Goals from Tottenham duo Ledley King and Peter Crouch gave England a 2-0 lead but Mexico pulled a goal back (following a corner, West Ham’s Guillermo Franco pounced on Leighton Baines unconvincing clearance to scramble the ball home) to make the score 2-1 at the break.
Shortly after the restart, Glen Johnson strode in from the right wing and duly dispatched a 20-yard cracker (with his supposedly weaker left foot) into the top corner to further extend England’s lead to 3-1.
On the surface the victory seems fairly decisive, but the reality was that the rebuilt England side’s display was less than cohesive – not a good prospect with the World Cup now looming large on the horizon.
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Here’s how I saw fit to rate the England side’s respective performances…
Rob Green A clutch of excellent saves means that he will almost definitely travel to the World Cup as England’s No.1. Fumbled an awkwardly bouncing long-range effort but otherwise sound handling throughout 7.5
Glen Johnson Had a lot of ground to cover due to Walcott’s high positioning and did it well. Looked more composed defensively than usual and capped his night with a wonderfully taken goal. Possibly his best showing in an England shirt so far 8 MAN OF THE MATCH
Rio Ferdinand Hardly what you’d call a ‘captain’s performance’. Caught out quite a few times by the mobile Mexican frontline and just drifted through the game without making much impact 6
Ledley King Scored with a smart header from Crouch’s knock down but wasn’t quite so efficient in his defensive duties. Composed on the ball but, like Ferdinand, struggled to keep up with the fluidity of some of the Mexican attacks 6.5
Leighton Baines It pains me to say it because I rate Baines highly, but the Everton left-back was very poor last night. Beaten by pace and trickery on a number of occasions. Ashley Cole has nothing to worry about 4
Theo Walcott Same old same old from Theo, lightning pace but no composure or intelligence. Made some suspect final decisions but delivered a few decent crosses. Provided spark on the counter-attack 6
Michael Carrick Absolutely appalling. Played in the holding position without playing in the holding role. His usually decent distribution was criminally poor. Will need a miracle if he is to make it to South Africa now 3
James Milner Looked knackered and over-awed, not a good combination. Laboured rather than hard-working. Didn’t look sure of his role and his performance suffered as a result 5
Steven Gerrard Keep phasing in and out during the first half, and was much more effective when pushed into a central role in the second. It was his whipped cross that led to Crouch’s goal 7
Wayne Rooney Reacted like a spoilt brat to some of his teammates wayward through-balls early on but soon settled into his usual tireless stride. A workmanlike performance interspersed with some flashes of brilliance, but all-in-all a largely fruitless night for the Manchester United forward 7
Peter Crouch Once again proved that it should be he, rather than Emile Heskey, that should fulfil the ‘target man’ role for England. His touch was precise, his aerial presence is invaluable and his goal-threat (in fairness, his goal last night should have been ruled out on two counts) means he should start every game at the World Cup 8
Joe Hart (on for Green: 45mins) Proved himself an able deputy by repelling everything that came his way. His time will come 6.5
Jamie Carragher (on for Ferdinand: 45 mins) The shaky defence looked slightly more unified in the second half, which may or may not have been directly due to the Liverpool veteran’s presence 6.5
Tom Huddlestone (on for Carrick: 60 mins) More suited to playing the deep-lying role than Carrick. Added a bit of physical presence to a porous central midfield. 6
Aaron Lennon (on for Walcott: 77 mins) Should have started and probably will against Japan on Sunday. Just runs and runs, putting the fear of God into retreating defenders in the process. 6.5
Adam Johnson (on for Milner: 85 mins) Great to see Johnson get his first senior cap, albeit for a (pretty impressive) five-minute cameo N/A
Jermaine Defoe (on for Crouch: 45 mins) Inkeeping with his last few performances for Spurs this season, Defoe was rubbish. Added absolutely nothing to the attack 4.5
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There we go peeps. Agree/Disagree? Let’s hear it…