Weekly English Premier League Opinion - World Cup Edition Day 11
England vs. Panama
Problems ahead for England.
Building on an early lead the possession statistics were crazy and the goals scored were even crazier. But did England play well? No, not really. The defending from Panama was so poor that football was embarrassed for them, basic tasks unfulfilled and the outcomes because of it rather evident with a 5-0 halftime lead. Panama were so undisciplined, they looked so unprepared, they looked so unprofessional. You can’t help England just loading up on cheap goals, but this standard of defending doesn’t belong in serious football, it certainly doesn’t belong at a World Cup.
It’s not England’s fault that Panama are so weak, of course they filled their boots. But the structure of England wasn’t top quality. Harry Kane was excellent from the penalty spot, perfectly clinical. But outside of that he didn’t touch the ball; quiet, ineffective, underutilized. Kane has a full range of skills, but he’s just never used enough.
There was a delightful moment for England with Jesse Lingard’s goal, the quick passing and interchange was accurate, inventive and dynamic. The finish equally as good. Perfect football. And that was the last that was seen of any perfect football.
The second half started the same as the first finished, boring and ineffective. England had the game won so it was opportunity to play without pressure, but again, we saw none of that freedom in their play. Henderson in the midfield pivot seems to ignore Kane, I’m not sure whether this is by design or just inability, but this game plan makes little sense, surely feeding Kane is the highest priority.
And the flip side is that despite a 6-0 lead they aren’t defending particularly well. In the first half Panama were good value for a couple of breaches deep into England territory, and in the second half we see it again. How is it possible to dominate a team by six goals and then lose a goal, it should have been two in the reality of better Panama finishing. Nothing about this England performance suggested creativity, organization or professionalism. England won today and that had more to do with the inability of Panama than the creativity of England.
England are not tournament contenders.
Even more crazy. Southgate makes the subs and yet Rashford doesn’t get a game, I just don’t get it. With a six goal advantage how can you not play the kid.
England can celebrate. England should celebrate. But a dose of realism is coming their way. This performance, these performances are not enough to survive. Until England have a central midfield that actively looks play Kane then they are going to struggle. Until England have a creative striker that has the option to run in-behind then they are going to struggle. Until the wide delivery is better, England is going to struggle; I would still suggest a left footed left wing back. Until England understand the system they have adopted and bring the ball out into the midfield they will continue to just pass negatively around the outside.
Better teams are coming for England. Enjoy the win, congratulations on the victory, everything they earned was entirely deserved. Panama was an embarrassment of a professional football team and England didn’t play that well against them. 6-1.
Neither England nor Panama will feature strongly at this World Cup.
By Jonny Carter - Chicago Fire