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Wednesday, 20 June 2012

England v Ukraine: Was Gerrard or Rooney England's main man?

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So they made it. England not only made the last eight but topped the group for good measure. The 1-0 win over Ukraine wasn't without problems but Roy Hodgson's New Model England are unbeaten in five starts and that's generating a lot of unexpected optimism.


Joe Hart - 7

Difficult to see who can dislodge him from the England jersey in years to come. Put in another crucial block to give John Terry the chance to complete that goal line clearance. Got a bit flummoxed by one long range effort but overall he's the calm custodian teams need at this level

Glen Johnson - 6

After the Sweden game one national newspaper had him as England's best defender while another rated him just a four. The Liverpool man divides opinion because he does get out of position at times- but then his athleticism often gets him out of trouble.

Likewise on the ball, his passing can be erratic but running with the ball he's a genuine threat and one of England's few positive options

John Terry - 8

There may be a lot not to like about Terry but as a centre-back there's no doubt he should be one of England's first choice pair. His experience at this level is invaluable where so much of the game is about picking off short passes, tracking runners and staying organised. Intervened many times to break up attacks and of course there was that clearance.

Joloen Lescott - 7

Not as dominant as Terry but put in a good shift and rarely looked discomfited. Got Hart out of his one moment of concern and Hodgson has found a centre-back he can count on at this level. Distribution can be erratic but his powers of concentration have impressed

Ashley Cole - 6

Still England's best left back but not quite as assured as he was at Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006. It might be because Ashley Young doesn't look too sound defensively in front of him but seems a bit unsure how aggressive to be. Still some good interventions though.

James Milner - 5

A great worker but hasn't given a great deal of threat out on the right. Easy to see why he's preferred over Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott but they are the future and the Man City man will become a squad player after this tournament

Steven Gerrard - 9

England's best player by a mile. Finally at 32 he gets to be the top dog in midfield after the years playing second fiddle to David Beckham, trying to acommodate Frank Lampard or simply missing matches through injury.

England's only real creativity in midfield comes from the skipper and he's busy on the defensive duties too. Add in three assists in England's five goals and you have a mature player at his peak. Don't let him get anywhere near a tackle during training. The yellow he picked up for a 50-50 header is a worry as England could ill-afford his loss for a semi-final

Scott Parker - 6

The minder for Gerrard and doing it well. Ironically his performances here show why he wasn't selected before-limitations on the ball are being exposed but in tandem with Gerrard (and with Barry, Lampard, Rodwell and Wilshere out) it works. Tremendous work rate and commitment but like Milner, he could return to the squad ranks after Euro 2012.

Ashley Young - 6

If Rooney had scored from his fine ball Young's contribution could be rated higher. He's a bit of an enigma so far - looks capable of breaking free but also tends to foul up in the final third. Will probably retain his place unless the manager chooses to alter the system

Wayne Rooney - 5

Well he scored, but his overall contribution didn't amount to much. Some poor control and badly weighted passes often stymied England attacks. But at times he looked as if he could offer the extra dimension that the team need. Not fair to judge him on this game but Rooney needs to step it up against Italy.

Danny Welbeck - 5

Despite his great goal against Sweden Welbeck still looks the international novice that he is. Excellent work rate here but nothing much came off for him. Spent a lot of time contesting balls in the centre when he can be a bigger threat pulling wide. Needs more support from the players around him to shine.

Calling all England fans. Do you agree? Whatever your views we'd love to hear from you.

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Hugh Larkin



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