Rating England's Players v Ecuador

A massive thumbs-up (and a prayer) for The Ox, some praise for Barkley, Rooney and Lambert and, then, well there's the defence. Thankfully they're the reserves...

Last Updated: 05/06/14 at 11:59 Post Comment

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BEN FOSTER: Lordy, he was excitable, wasn't he? He rushed hither and thither but somehow never quite got punished for losing his head. They say the enemy of a goalkeeper is indecision. Nonsense, it's caffeine.

JAMES MILNER: At one point during the first half, 'Why is Milner' was trending in the UK on Twitter. Exactly. Actually, we know why Roy Hodgson played him there - his second and third-choice right-backs were at centre-half and he wanted to give everybody a game - but he was setting him up for a massive fall by pitting him against the excellent Jefferson Montero. Milner did what you expect a jobbing midfielder to do at right-back (mostly foul), while producing a couple of excellent passes - one a wonderful reverse - at the other end of the pitch. Oh and he was sold by the simplest step from Michael Arroyo before his goal. Poor James. It was always going to be too hot for a Yorkshireman in that there jungle anyway.

CHRIS SMALLING: Ouch. He's just not very good, is he? Has to take some blame for Ecuador's first (though he could probably have expected Luke Shaw to at least jump) but worse was to come - including the moment he found himself a good 15 yards behind the rest of the defence when England lost the ball further up the pitch. This performance is actually A Good Thing because he will surely never play for England again and certainly not in this tournament.

PHIL JONES: Much better than Smalling; file under 'damning with faint praise'. There'll be come cracking photos.

LUKE SHAW: Would have expected Smalling to make the header but clearly should have put some pressure on Enner Valencia anyway. At least jump, fella. Should have found it easier to deal with the one-dimensional and familiar Antonio Valencia but had his moments going forward and linking with Wayne Rooney. Having previously made it clear that I would have taken Ashley Cole, nothing against Ecuador persuaded otherwise.

JACK WILSHERE: There was initial excitement that he showed the appetite to get past Ross Barkley into the attacking third of the pitch but that faded as we realised his gameplan was mostly to hold onto the ball for a split-second too long and then collapse to the floor. Poor. And then he got all shouty and wild-eyed at the first sign of trouble. Jordan Henderson can rest easy in his bed.

FRANK LAMPARD: Somebody wrote into the Mailbox this week about Lampard and described him as England's best ever from 20 yards. Presumably it has to be exactly 20 yards because he made a cock of things from 16. And 30. And largely looked slow without the ball and careless with it. It will be a surprise if he is an influence anywhere but off the pitch in Brazil.

ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN: Has an appetite and an aptitude for forward movement made easier by his barrel-ish physique. He was hungry, lively and absolutely devoid of the nerves that reduce some players to safety-first football. Loves nothing more than running at defenders, who largely back off a little bit before waving him through. Opta tell us he dribbled past an opponent seven times - the most from any England player since September 2008. Pray that it's not ligament damage.

ROSS BARKLEY: His decision-making is questionable, leaving him with a tendency to a) get robbed of the ball or b) mis-time his final pass (if he makes one at all), but you cannot question his energy and, like The Ox, his inclination to forward motion. Looks a little like a younger Rooney with his single-mindedness and physicality - relishing the chance to take the ball and run in the general direction of the goal whenever possible. A starter? No. But perhaps a finisher.

WAYNE ROONEY: A tap-in but that will do after 365 minutes. Looked a whole lot livelier than Friday as he got the work-out he clearly needed. Perhaps, just perhaps, the manager actually knows better than the journalists desperate to press him into either making him untouchable or, erm, touching him heavily.

RICKIE LAMBERT: Was finding it difficult to find space in which to operate with three such attack-minded accomplices so was peripheral through no fault of his own. Should have scored when he instead handballed in the build-up to England's first but we forgive him anything after that second. Not a bad week, eh, fella?

SUBS

JON FLANAGAN (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, 63): No Championship club wanted to take him on loan last season; let's just let that sink in. As for the game, he was tidy enough.

RAHEEM STERLING (on for Rooney, 65): Silly. Whatever Andy Townsend says about Valencia getting him sent off, there's only one man to blame for that red card and it was the man sliding in recklessly.

JOHN STONES (on for Shaw, 74): A couple of impressive moments clearing up danger. Is he already better than Smalling?

DANNY WELBECK (on for Lambert, 84): Touched the ball four times; can't remember any of them.

JORDAN HENDERSON (on for Barkley, 84): Did nothing wrong.

ADAM LALLANA (on for Wilshere, 87): Ditto.

Sarah Winterburn

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