Judging England's Players From Brazil...

No marks out of 10 (that's for the tabloids) but Sarah Winterburn prepares for her first Euro Ladder of the autumn by judging the 23 England men in Brazil. Not pretty...

Last Updated: 26/06/14 at 13:51 Post Comment

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1. Joe Hart (180 minutes)
Can you directly attribute any of Italy or Uruguay's goals against England to incompetence from Joe Hart? No. Can he possibly be happy with conceding four goals from just six on target? No again. #justsaying, as the Twitter weapons say.

2. Glen Johnson (180 minutes)
Showed some quality going forward - though seven failed attempts at crossing the ball would suggest that accuracy is an issue - and was tenacious in his assist for Wayne Rooney's equaliser against Uruguay. But once again, the actual defending was an issue; he can take some small blame for Mario Balotelli's goal and rather more for failing to close down Edinson Cavani for Luis Suarez's first. Still England's best right-back? Yes. Still worried? Yes.

3. Leighton Baines (180 minutes)
We hope he enjoyed his first and only major tournament as England's first-choice left-back. I have consistently maintained it was a mistake to choose Baines over Ashley Cole and took no pleasure in being proved right in 90 torrid minutes against Italy. There are mitigating circumstances in the lack of cover offered by Wayne Rooney but it turns out - and this apparently came as a shock to Baines - that doing a little jump and waving a leg is no way to stop a well-struck cross.

4. Steven Gerrard (197 minutes)
Eesh. It didn't go well, did it? Understandably muted in a two-man midfield against Italy's three men but then, when he should have been better against Uruguay, he was appreciably worse. Over to Oscar Tabarez: "We played very well and Cavani played a very important role to counter that. Gerrard couldn't play his game because Cavani was stopping him, so today they had more difficulties than normal. I think that was the key to the game." By all accounts, Gerrard was a phenomenal captain off the pitch, mind. So well done that man.

5. Gary Cahill (270 minutes)
Gets the 'tallest dwarf' rosette for being England's best defender in Brazil. Culpable in part for Mario Balotelli's winner but, otherwise, won headers, cleared his lines, passed the ball neatly and basically played the role of 'pretty good Premier League centre-half' to perfection.

6. Phil Jagielka (180 minutes)
Looked the more solid of our underwhelming first-choice defensive pairing against Italy and then looked pretty rotten against Uruguay as he proved - as if we were in any doubt at all - that England's best centre-halves are quite a bit worse than other leading nations' best strikers. We would be astonished/devastated if England do not have a better option by Euro 2016.

7. Jack Wilshere (90 minutes)
Two years ago he looked like the midfielder most likely to partner Steven Gerrard at this World Cup; on Tuesday night against Costa Rica he was the man replaced by his captain after 73 pretty underwhelming minutes. Needs form. Needs fitness. Needs to stop spending so long on the floor. What we used to like about Wilshere was his quick feet and the fact that he always seemed to be on the half-turn. Now he takes an extra touch and always seems to be on the deck. We'd feel a whole lot better about a post-Gerrard and post-Lampard future if Wilshere looked remotely like he could lead for club or country.

8. Frank Lampard (90 minutes)
Easy-peasy at the base of a three-man midfield against a Costa Rica side who never had any intention of going for England's throat. Toodle-pip, Frank.

9. Daniel Sturridge (260 minutes)
The last World Cup ladder before Roy Hodgson named his squad remarked that the 'Sturridge juggernaut has slowed to a middle-lane cruise' but his faltering form was forgotten in the the hype about England's dynamic No. 9. Scored one of England's only two goals in Brazil but took a staggering 12 shots in three games, including four attempts (all off-target) against Costa Rica. Was his finishing or his first touch more suspect? It's a toss-up.

10. Wayne Rooney (194 minutes)
Should he play on the left? Should he play as a No. 9? Should he play as a No. 10? Should he play at all? After all the fuss, Rooney started two games and had a hand in both England's goals. He was a solid 7/10. But what England needed from the self-proclaimed 'big man' was rather more than 7/10. Drag us through tournaments, Wayne - it's what world-class players do.

11. Daniel Welbeck (132 minutes)
Possibly England's man of the match against Uruguay as he locked down his side of the pitch with dilligent defensive work and pressing, but too often chose the safe option going forward. In 132 minutes he failed to create a single chance...and we wonder why we only scored two goals in three games.

12. Chris Smalling (90 minutes)
He wants to 'cement' his place at centre-back for England and Manchester United, apparently. Good luck with that, Chris. Was decent against no real threat in England's final dead rubber when, aptly enough, his passing was similar to that of a dead rubber. Shank.

13. Ben Foster (90 minutes)
Made exactly the same number of saves (2) as Joe Hart at this tournament and, to be fair, he was excellent against Costa Rica, claiming crosses and commanding his area with the aplomb of a man who has just finished an underwhelming season at West Brom. At just 31, he could be playing in England dead rubbers for years to come.

14. Jordan Henderson (160 minutes)
Can remember absolutely nothing of note about Henderson's World Cup - neither of his tackles or his interceptions have stuck long in the memory. Like Gerrard, struggled with playing in a two-man midfield after a season of help from Lucas Leiva or Joe Allen. Almost seemed to end up in England's central midfield by default; hopefully he will have to do rather more to justify his place in future.

15. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (0 minutes)
Excellent in absentia.

16. Phil Jones (90 minutes)
Managed to fit in his full repertoire of shinning the ball out of play, allowing the ball to bounce out of play right in front of him and offering pretty much no attacking threat in 90 forgettable minutes against Costa Rica. There's an excellent player struggling to get out of Phil Jones, but he's not a right-back. Which is fortunate for nobody but Glen Johnson.

17. James Milner (90 minutes)BR>He would have become more useful as the tournament wore on, which probably offers little comfort after 90 minutes against Costa Rica where we learned absolutely nothing about England's spatula. He huffed, he puffed, he gave the ball away.

18. Rickie Lambert (3 minutes)
Three minutes, one foul, one touch to give the ball away. But at least he had a nice time and he gets to join Liverpool. He's a Scouser, you know.

19. Raheem Sterling (182 minutes)
Benefited from the element of surprise against Italy, when he caused millions of pints to be spilled with a side-netting 'goal' amongst the very best in the genre. Afforded some space by Italy, he was a threat. Afforded no space by Uruguay, he cut a frustrated figure. He's only 19, mind. Come on fella, please be any good.

20. Adam Lallana (91 minutes)
A massive let-down. He was supposed to provide England's X Factor, the two-footed little box of tricks, but two largely unsatisfactory pre-tournament performances saw him sidelined for Welbeck in the opening game against Italy. Since then he's done bugger all to suggest that Southampton should be asking anything north of £20m for his services.

21. Ross Barkley (145 minutes)
Explosive, eye-catching, powerful, exciting - he got more chance to make an impact in Brazil than Welbeck, which has got to be encouraging news for those of us who prefer swashbuckling to safe. And who in their right mind doesn't? Now for some end product, la.

22. Fraser Forster (0 minutes)
Faultless.

23. Luke Shaw (90 minutes)
He's 18 and it's already his England left-back slot to lose.

Sarah Winterburn

There's a "<" missing from the front of HTML code for the line break in James Milner's entry, which is about as exciting and appropriate as it gets for James Milner and an article about England's flaccid national team. Roll on, Euro 2016.
- slowgraffiti

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