Both up top and at the back, mental errors and miscommunication doomed this squad, and their dreams of advancing could be dashed in less than 24 hours depending on how the Costa Rica–Italy match plays out.
But the Premier League All-Star Team has several talented young players who have been blossoming as stars in domestic play. If they want to grow as a national team, however, they’ll have to start learning how to play like one.
Credit Luis Suarez for knocking home his two chances, but they were both gift-wrapped to him by horrendous defensive mistakes. The game-winner in the 85th minute was especially head-scratching, as Uruguay got the ball from their goalie to Suarez in only two passes. Analyst and English homer Steve McManaman sounded as though he was having a brain aneurysm when reacting to the play. And he was totally justified.
Other near catastrophes were narrowly avoided thanks to a combination of unbelievable Gary Cahill recoveries and inconceivable misses by Uruguay. The game just as easily could have finished 5-1. But to be fair, the Premier League All-Star Team blew several chances of their own because of missed connections and general confusion.
In many cases, the English players were simply not in a position of strength. Daniel Sturridge appeared to play wide most of the game against Uruguay, even though he’s most feared when hanging around the box. This seemed to clutter the spacing for the team’s true winger, Raheem Sterling, who was quiet nearly all 90 minutes.
What’s more, it pushed Wayne Rooney into more of a striker role. The same Wayne Rooney who, prior to today, hadn’t scored a World Cup goal in approximately three thousand games. Sure, he finally broke through to equalize today, but that’s not exactly a desirable ratio for a man who’s getting the Three Lion’s share of your scoring chances.
Have three of your best forward players out of position, and pitch in a pair of lousy games from Captain Steven Gerrard, and it’s no wonder the Premier League All-Star Team struggled to make the most of their scoring chances.
At some point the finger has to be pointed at Roy Hodgson. The way England played in attack these past two games may make fans long for the Fabio Capello era. He now manages the Russian Premier League All-Star Team (no seriously, all of the Russia squad plays for a domestic club).
They drew against South Korea in their World Cup opener. That’s not a great result, but hey, that’s more points in the standings than England.