Plum­mer’s player rat­ings

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Classifieds -

WHAT a sorry state of af­fairs.

Judg­ing by the amount of horn­toot­ing on Bourges Boule­vard yes­ter­day tea-time, you would have thought Eng­land had al­ready won the World Cup.

Not just beaten the 25th best team in the world by a sin­gle goal to limp through the group stages in sec­ond place.

De­spite Eng­land’s un­de­ni­able dom­i­nance in Port El­iz­a­beth, watch­ing the ac­tion un­fold left me feel­ing about as com­fort­able as John Terry when tak­ing a fidelity test.

I wit­nessed an Eng­land team lack­ing a killer in­stinct go through far too many wor­ry­ing mo­ments at the other end be­fore book­ing their place in the round of 16.

Yes we’ve come through the group stage un­de­feated and yes, we did when we could have died. But this was no cake­walk. Far, far from it.

But for some des­per­ate blocks from Terry and de­fen­sive part­ner Matthew Up­son, and a poorly-timed swing of Val­ter Birsa’s left boot, we may well have been read­ing a dif­fer­ent story right now.

That said the tempo was ter­rific, a lot of pass­ing was pretty and chances kept on com­ing. We should have won 3-0 and could have won 5-0.

But we didn’t - we came through 10 and we will pay the price for such profli­gacy in front of goal in fu­ture matches. What yes­ter­day was a pal­pi­ta­tion could on Sun­day be­come elim­i­na­tion.

At least Jer­main De­foe jus­ti­fied his in­clu­sion by scor­ing with his first touch - in the 22nd minute! - af­ter a stun­ning cross from an­other sur­prise se­lec­tion, the ter­rific James Mil­ner.

De­foe could have added two more goals from roughly seven more touches, but still man­aged to suc­ceed where oth­ers have failed.

None more so than Wayne Rooney who gurned his way through an­other largely life­less in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ance. He was on hand to see a golden sec­ond-half chance turned onto a post by the fin­ger­tips of an im­pres­sive Slove­nian keeper be­fore be­ing sub­sti­tuted be­cause his an­kle was ‘not so good’.

That’s a con­di­tion which, based on the ev­i­dence of the past three games, is clearly not ex­clu­sive to one par­tic­u­lar part of his body. I’m afraid Rooney looks roobish.

And his dis­mal form is not the only prob­lem. Our big play­ers just ain’t do­ing the busi­ness.

Lam­pard is a let-down and skip­per Steven Ger­rard is clearly play­ing in the wrong po­si­tion.

Rooney’s exit yes­ter­day led to a be­lated en­trance for Joe Cole - the player who the nation have de­manded to see in­cluded. Cole did lit­tle in his 18 min­utes to sug­gest he is the mas­ter lock-picker so many claim.

The man most likely to carve open op­po­nents is Mil­ner who has skill, speed and pre­cise cross­ing abil­ity in his locker. That is un­likely to be enough though.

Maybe my glass is just half-empty. Maybe I should bor­row a pair of Harry Red­knapp’s rose-tinted glasses.

“There wasn’t a weak­ness in the team,” the Tot­ten­ham man­ager cheer­fully told BBC view­ers. “I think we’ve got a big chance to win it.”

I ad­mire his op­ti­mism, but I’ll add a dose of re­al­ism. Un­for­tu­nately I reckon we have about as much chance of win­ning the World Cup as France - and they’re al­ready home.

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