Photos: Japan 1-2 England – Joe Cole & Joe Hart The Real Winners

Ollie Irish

30th, May 2010


By Ollie Irish


Picture 1 of 27

England players Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Michael Dawson (left to right) on the touchline, prior to kick off

On this form England will do well to get out of their World Cup group. They were way below-par against a competitive, tenacious Japanese side, with several players harming their chances of making the final 23 – stand up (or sit down, indeed) Darren Bent and Tom Huddlestone, both of whom will now miss out. Emile Heskey came on, missed a sitter with his bonce but no doubt he’ll still travel to South Africa. Go figure.

It’s so difficult to judge the value of friendlies in general, but I admit they are more important so close to a major tournament. I’m sure Fabio Capello will not tolerate such a dismal performance in a meaningful match next month (the WC qualifying campaign has shown that already), but today England’s stars played like strangers in a pub team, notably in a shockingly bad first-half display.

Still, to look on the bright side, Joe Hart and Joe Cole both caught the eye in a much more encouraging second half, and Cole must now have moved ahead of Adam Johnson – who, surprisingly, did not figure at all – in Capello’s book. Compared with Theo Walcott, for example, Cole’s football ability is so blatantly superior. I would take Cole and Johnson and leave Walcott, who seems to have little confidence right now. And whither Michael Dawson and Scott Parker? Would have been nice to see both in the last two games, even coming off the bench.

In goal, Hart looked very comfortable and appears to have the temperament to cope well with international football – he played with a smile on his face too, and I wish more English players, visibly uptight in an England kit, would do the same. Seasoned Prem watchers know Hart has all the ability, if not the top-level experience, and I’d like to see the Man City keeper installed as England’s No.1.

All this said, England won. Let’s not overlook that. Their goals were ugly own goals, but they won, against a fellow World Cup competitor, and enjoyed more possession and created more chances. Spain only just beat Saudi Arabia earlier this weekend, Serbia lost at home to New Zealand… no one is saying Spain can’t win the tournament, or that Serbia are suddenly shite.

With a motivated first XI in place, I’m confident England would have beaten Japan by a bigger margin and with a much better performance. So let’s not weep into our lagers, eh, or forget how impressively we qualified for the World Cup. It’s way too early to abandon hope – if we lose 1-0 to the States, I will change my tune, obviously.

With the glass half empty though, you have to question Capello for leaving it so late to experiment with fringe players. Surely he should be using these games to take a closer look at his best side? Still, I like to think the guy knows what he’s doing. Gulp.

The seven who I predict will miss out:

Stephen Warnock, Michael Dawson, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Darren Bent (if Capello trusts the fitness of his frontline defenders)


Stephen Warnock, Michael Dawson, Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Adam Johnson, Darren Bent (if Capello goes for eight defenders, rather than seven)

I really hope Capello takes Adam Johnson as a wildcard.

Posted in International football, Photos, World Cup

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  1. Huddlestone for England says:

    Oh sure, blame Huddlestone and not the overrated players who failed miserably in the last few tournaments

    Huddlestone MUST Go

  2. Chris Redmond says:

    Cole and Hart could well be coming to Arsenal, as well, by the sounds of things.

  3. Foggy says:

    I’m hoping that Fabio has brought that infamous trait of the Italian national team to the England camp,that being how they under perform in the group stages then seem to pull a performance or two out of the air to win them the cup.

  4. Dan says:

    Huddlestone, Bent and Walcott were all pretty dreadful, even Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand defended poorly. The most worrying thing for me was the complete lack of creative spark in the team, unless it was Rooney on the ball the whole team just looked like they were happy keeping posession. You can kiss goodbye to anything past the second round if Rooney is injured, there’s zero squad depth.

  5. David says:

    It has been obvious for quite a while that England will not move on from their group. The ‘big’ 5 who really fuel the side are Terry, Ferdinand, Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney. Of these only Lampard and Rooney have had good seasons. The others, for various reasons have misfired. Ferdinand, great when fit, has struggled for a lot of the season with back trouble, Terry with personal issues, which have coincided with him losing a half yard of pace, and Gerrard whether suffering the aftermath of his court case or simply playing for Benitez, is simply not the player he was a season ago when he could take the game by the skin of its neck and win it single handed. Lampard has played well but Rooney looks jaded having to carry Man Utds attack almost single handed.
    I thought the tactics were wrong against both Mexico and Japan when for a large percentage of the games England ceded midfield. The only player who looked like he could actually beat a man and create space was Lennon, the rest pretty pedantic.
    I tip England to draw at best with the US and Carragher carrying on his great tradition to be England’s top scorer in the tournament!!

  6. Chris says:

    I said at the time, and I still maintain, that Peter Crouch would have scored at least two goals if he were playing.

  7. […] WAGs « Photos: Japan 1-2 England – Joe Cole & Joe Hart The Real Winners […]

  8. Gill Man says:

    The Team should be:



  9. I hope that Capello takes both Adam Johnson and Joe Cole. I would leave out SWP, Parker, Huddlestone, Carrick, Warnock, Bent and Dawson.

    I don’t see why we need Carrick and Milner, but with Barry’s injury I’d say Carrick is now a certanty. He’s lucky if he is, as all his recent form has been rubbish.

    The only other way he could perhaps take Johnson and J Cole is too leave out Baines or Upson, and use Carragher as cover for two positions. Or if he decides to play one up front, maybe boot out the goal machine Heskey?

    I can’t see Capello being that bold though. Think he will go for the straight forward two players for every position formula.

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