IN an ideal world, Robert Green will have held onto Landon Donovan’s tame effort, Emile Heskey would have scored from his one-on-one, England would have beaten the USA 2-0, and we’d all be merrily dancing our way to Cape Town for the Algeria game, dreaming of World Cup glory.
But those fine lines in football has left England in a terrible mess and it makes you wonder whether we are staring into another false dawn.
In those pain-staking 90 minutes in Rustenburg on Saturday night, Fabio Capello’s problems multiplied. In all areas of the park now, he has selection dilemmas, whether they be caused through injury, poor form or a tactical re-think.
It’s not the end of the world. I can remember us starting slowly in both of the World Cups I played for England, in 1986 and 1990, yet we finished strongly in both.
But, for me, Capello made some very strange decisions against the USA, and you can rest assured that Plan B will not be too far away from his thoughts when he conducts his training camp post mortem this week.
Does he start with Green or doesn’t he? Personally, I would pass the gloves on. I’ve said all along that Joe Hart would be my No1 choice. He arrived in South Africa with confidence at its highest, and unlike Green and David James, he carries no baggage.
Half of a goalkeeper’s confidence came from the manager and I don’t think Green ever believed he had the full backing of Capello. Unlike the other two, Hart doesn’t need that confidence, he has it already.
Ledley King’s groin injury is not what Capello needed just one game into the tournament. Jamie Carragher came on to replace him on Saturday and while he’s the most experienced of the standbys, his lack of pace alongside John Terry is a worry.
Matthew Upson is lacking confidence in training by all accounts, which leaves Michael Dawson. He, like Hart, is brimming with confidence after a fine season and has that little extra pace. He could just be the answer.
Gareth Barry’s inclusion is key, not only to support the two centre backs, but also to help England keep hold of the ball in midfield.
Our passing on Saturday was woeful, Barry’s presence will just held spread things out and give control. Joe Cole must surely not be overlooked again also.
Saturday was crying out for a Gerrard or a Cole to support Wayne Rooney, but our main man ended up playing a supporting role himself to Emile Heskey. Rooney hasn’t played that way all season – let’s give him the role in which he can do the most damage.