The F365 England v Belgium Player Ratings

After a rather dull display from England, Matt Stanger looks at the individual performances. Welbeck was ace, but Oxlade-Chamberlain confirmed he's better as a sub...

Last Updated: 03/06/12 at 14:24 Post Comment

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Joe Hart
Was he as bored as we were? Apart from several routine saves, Hart didn't have a great deal to do and at times he seemed too relaxed. Nick Miller wrote after the 1-0 win against Norway - in which Rob Green played in goal - that we should pray to the almighty Pazuzu that Hart doesn't come to any misfortune. Perhaps we should also add our wishes that he doesn't become complacent. The 'keeper was slow to come and collect when the ball bounced towards him in the first half and although Dries Mertens' unsporting push caused the collision with Gary Cahill - and the defender's subsequent substitution - the incident could have been avoided had Hart been decisive. In the second half he flapped at a cross and dallied on the ball under pressure from Romelu Lukaku. Come on Joe, England haven't got much. We need you at your best.

Glen Johnson
It was a good work-out for Johnson against the lively Mertens. The defender stuck to his task, but the Belgian winger was still allowed to put in several crosses. Johnson's main advantage is his ability to support the attack but he struggled in this respect, losing the ball rather carelessly when he tried to break in the first half. The most frustrating thing about the right-back's performance, though, was the aimless balls hooked down the line for James Milner. Milner may be diligent, but even he grew tired of chasing passes that were hit beyond him. Still, Johnson was a damn sight better than Phil Jones was in Norway and remains the best option we have. He will need to be at his best when he faces Franck Ribery in Donetsk.

Gary Cahill
Roy Hodgson confirmed his ideal back four for the France game with Cahill partnering John Terry in the middle. The idea of keeping three-quarters of the Chelsea defence together is appealing in its familiarity, but the manager now faces an anxious wait to see if both of his centre-back pairing picked up injuries. Cahill looked composed in the 18 minutes he played and will now go for a CT scan to learn if his collision with Hart has caused any serious problems.

John Terry
Terry was excellent in his 70 minutes on the pitch and his tight hamstring is a real concern ahead of the Euros. Only Leon Britton and Nigel de Jong averaged better pass completion rates than Terry in the Premier League this season and the defender was again impressive in his calm distribution. He organised the defence and was good in the air. England desperately need him to be fit if they are to stand a chance of getting past the group stage. If Terry is ruled out, Hodgson will be forced to go cap in hand to Rio Ferdinand.

Ashley Cole
England's only world-class player; Cole could probably walk into any other international side in his position. He performed his duties admirably against Belgium and joined the attack more often as the game progressed. There is perhaps a concern that fatigue could hit him after a long season.

James Milner
Industrious and tireless, if unspectacular. No-one can criticise Milner's work rate, but the winger lacks both the pace and creativity to provide a real attacking threat on the right. He was generally good in possession and his versatility showed when he was switched to the left for the last 25 minutes. Hodgson seems to like him and it would be a surprise if he didn't start against France.

Steven Gerrard
One of the main reasons I'm not a fan of England's current 4-4-1-1 formation is that it doesn't get the best out of Gerrard. Injuries to Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry, as well as Jack Wilshere's long-term absence, have necessitated that the captain starts in the role he currently occupies. However, in an ideal world England would be able to get a lot more out of Gerrard as the centre of the '3' in the 4-2-3-1 system advocated by Fabio Capello. His best moments come when he is around the penalty area, such as the double chance at the end of the first half. Aside from that, Gerrard was adequate in his use of the ball without really injecting much purpose. England had only 41% of possession, which says a lot about the midfield's failure to dominate.

Scott Parker
In a 4-2-3-1 system, Parker is the perfect player to cover the back four. However, when there are only two players in the centre, his contribution is rather limited. Parker's role in the team is derived from the responsibilities made famous by Claude Makelele. But when Makelele was at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho he was usually deployed as the defensive shield in a 4-3-2-1 formation. And during his time at Real Madrid, the Spanish team normally played 4-2-3-1; two players in the centre who can create, one who sits. In England's current 4-4-1-1 selection, Parker is required to do more than harrying and tackling and Saturday's display suggests that he might be incapable of the demands.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
The 18-year-old confirmed himself as an impact sub with a hit-and-miss showing. He was lively, as always, but there was little end product to his wing play and driving runs. It could have been different if he had managed to keep his footing when Milner cut the ball back to him on the edge of the area early in the first half. While Oxlade-Chamberlain has generated the greatest amount of excitement in this England team, he is nowhere near the finished article we all hope for. He will certainly play at the Euros, unlike Theo Walcott at the 2006 World Cup, but we shouldn't expect too much from the youngster.

Ashley Young
Young was lively and provided a perfectly weighted through ball to Danny Welbeck for the only goal of the game. You feel, though, that his best position is on the left, where he has less responsibility and can cut inside to shoot at will, rather than being the team's creative hub. If Andy Carroll performs well in England's first two matches it's likely that we'll see Young move to the wing when Wayne Rooney returns against Ukraine.

Danny Welbeck
Do you want mayo with that chip, Belgium? It was a sumptuous strike from Welbeck and he was impressive despite being starved of action for long spells. His Manchester United training was evident, as rather than waste possession with speculative shots, he waited for support whenever he had the ball. This resulted in a good chance for Oxlade-Chamberlain in the first half, but the winger blazed over. Welbeck has been suffering with a stomach problem and presumably remains behind Andy Carroll for a starting spot against France, but he's an excellent option to have on the bench.

SUBS

Joleon Lescott
Based on his performances for Man City this season, Lescott should be a starter for England. However, Hodgson's preference for maintaining the Chelsea partnership of Terry and Cahill means that if they both stay fit he will go to the Euros as a sub. If injuries prevail, though, the defender showed that he will have no problems slotting in as a replacement. He even shed blood for the cause; doesn't that mean he's an England legend?

Wayne Rooney
Despite Rooney playing almost 40 minutes, the game largely passed him by. After initially replacing Welbeck as the main striker, he tucked in behind Jermain Defoe for the last 25 minutes, fulfilling the role he'll probably be given in the final group match against Ukraine. By that stage, England could already be staring an early exit in the face. Rooney's appearance on Saturday was merely a training exercise for the Manchester United forward, but with only 40 minutes of football in the five weeks between the end of the season and the Ukraine game, will he be ready to make an impact?

Theo Walcott
Walcott laid on two chances for Jermain Defoe in a typically energetic cameo. There's two possibilities as to why Hodgson hasn't started him in either of England's warm-up games: 1) The manager has already decided that the 23-year-old is in his starting XI or 2) Milner is Hodgson's preferred choice on the right and he sees Walcott as a potential super-sub. The answer is probably the latter, which means that Walcott will be vying with Welbeck, the Ox and Jermain Defoe to be the leading option from the bench.

Jermain Defoe
Defoe was really rather good when he came on, hitting the post with an angled drive and worrying the Belgium defence with his movement. No-one scored more goals as a substitute in the Premier League this season, which tells you how useful it could be having him in the squad.

Phil Jagielka
His 20 minutes offered nothing more than we already knew. It was a surprise that such a reliable defender was overlooked in Hodgson's initial 23.

Jordan Henderson
He didn't do anything bad.

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