England's Player Ratings v Germany

The pluses were few and far between (Joe Hart, Andros Townsend to a certain extent) while some - Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley, Daniel Sturridge - were poor...

Last Updated: 19/11/13 at 23:16 Post Comment

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JOE HART: The excellent news is that we can start these ratings on a positive note. Yay. The other excellent news is that Alan Shearer has once again been proved entirely and utterly clueless. He said on Monday that Hart should not face Germany because he was on a 'hiding to nothing' but, as we suspected, Hart will clearly benefit from making three excellent saves (from Mertesacker, Reus and Gotze) in a high-pressure game. Aside from the brainfade when he clattered Chris Smalling in the 62nd minute, he did not put a foot wrong. And who didn't want to clatter Chris Smalling after that Germany goal?

KYLE WALKER: Sloppy. Too many times the simple passes went astray and too many times he ran into trouble by making the wrong decision. He's simply not as good as Glen Johnson but Andros Townsend could yet be his saviour - the biggest plus sign by Walker's name right now is that he has an understanding with Townsend and Townsend seems to be our Plan A, B and C.

CHRIS SMALLING: Oh ouch. Has played only 45 minutes of Premier League football at centre-half this season and it showed. Beaten again and again by Per Mertseacker at set-pieces - not just by the BFG's size but by the smallest, most basic of movements. In open play, he was as culpable as anybody in the second half when Germany cut straight through the middle and right now is the fourth-choice centre-half behind three other average centre-halves. There will be plenty making cases for Michael Dawson and Steven Caulker in the wake of that performance. The bad news is that Roy Hodgson has said that Smalling "did well at centre half".

PHIL JAGIELKA: Lauded by the ITV commentators for a series of tackles, clearances and interceptions but often waved a leg at a German attacker or got caught the wrong side when Germany started attacking through the middle. His distribution was also iffy - he fancies himself as a ball-playing defender a little more than his quality suggests. He's incredibly lucky to be around at a time when there are so few quality English centre-backs; he will amass 30-odd caps but if he'd been born ten years earlier, he'd be a poor man's Matthew Upson. That he was England's best centre-half across the two friendlies is more than a little damning.

ASHLEY COLE: There were some good things - impressive reading of the game for several key interceptions and an excellent tackle when he was dragged out to right-back on the half-time whistle - but twice in quick succession he allowed German players to get behind him and the second time led to the corner that led to the goal. England have a wealth of left-back options but we have not seen the best of the two main contenders this week.

STEVEN GERRARD: Combative early on but was almost too disciplined, sitting back to look after the defence and allowing Tom Cleverley - a man with little or no attacking intent - to get a little further forward. An excellent tackle when covering for the absent Cole was a huge tick next to his name, but when tasked in a similar position again, his weak attempt led to the Per Mertesacker goal. Barring his set-piece delivery, he created very little of note. Hodgson mitigated Gerrard's muted performance by saying he "wasn't at his best after recovering so recently" and we are inclined to agree - we just need to find him a midfield partner before June but we're not convinced it's...

TOM CLEVERLEY: We actually thought England looked excellent in the first 15 minutes - when there was genuine movement and zip - but too often Cleverley was the man who made a right cock of the final ball. His talent showed in the 34th minute with a wondrous reverse ball but that was the only real moment of quality in 64 underwhelming minutes. In the last year he has gone from being one of the first names on Hodgson's teamsheet to facing a battle to secure a place in the final 23 for Brazil. There will be better players than Cleverley who will get nutmegged by Mario Gotze but we suspect that it does not take somebody as good as Gotze to leave Cleverley looking rather silly.

ANDROS TOWNSEND: We have made no secret of our disdain for Townsend this season but we have to admit that his 'dynamism' (thanks Joachim Low) gives England an outlet that is sadly missing in the absence of Theo Walcott (and sometimes in the presence of Theo Walcott). He gets us up the pitch quickly and scares defenders who are afraid of pace above all else. He is often dispossessed and rarely provides a killer final ball but he gets us from one penalty box to the other quicker than anybody else in an England shirt right now. And my word, he can hit the ball. A fasinating battle with Walcott is on the cards when the Arsenal man returns.

WAYNE ROONEY: For Manchester United this season he has looked busy, produced moments of real quality but has too often been caught in possession. He produced exactly the same performance for England. It's promising and infuriating in equal measure. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Wayne Rooney.

ADAM LALLANA: The first half passed him by a little as England again and again, remembering those instructions from Hodgson, looked to feed Townsend on the right. He pressed and he harried but he rarely got the chance to do anything on the ball. But then in the opening minutes after the break, there was a shimmy and a cross, and then a spin and a turn, that made you think he has got something different to offer. He works as hard as James Milner but has a touch of the maverick; that's surely the kind of player Hodgson needs to keep around.

DANIEL STURRIDGE: Steven Gerrard said that the stage was set for Sturridge; few will be screaming for an encore after a performance remarkable only for his flat-footed reaction to excellent balls from first Cleverley and then Jordan Henderson. It had all started so well with some impressive work on the half-way line as he swapped places with Rooney and Lallana in England's first 15-minute whirl of movement, but it will be the image of Sturridge getting the ball caught under his feet that will live in the memory.

KIERAN GIBBS (Ashley Cole, 52): Not the worst week for Gibbs with Baines and Cole both below their best and the Arsenal man did little wrong in his cameo. Still probably third choice, mind.

JORDAN HENDERSON (Steven Gerrard, 56): Not half-bad. Tracked back impressively when he came on the pitch, distributed the ball well and produced one of the passes of the night for Sturridge to fluff his chance. As long as he's only back-up, we can rest easy.

JACK WILSHERE (Tom Cleverley, 64): Diligent but sloppy in possession. Nowhere near his dynamic best.

ROSS BARKLEY (Wayne Rooney, 71): Poor set-piece delivery but did much better with one back-post cross that produced one of England's few chances. Probably now behind Lallana in the pecking order.

RICKIE LAMBERT (Adam Lallana, 76): He touched the ball ten times. We remember none of them.

Sarah Winterburn

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