Rooney still holds the key
Wayne Rooney’s man of the match performance against Poland inspired England to World Cup qualification and also served as a reminder he is still the country’s best player. Like many other of his teammates he has under performed in major tournaments but has always been lethal in qualifiers. He’s set to become England’s record goal scorer and when happy and playing in his favoured position he can do serious damage to the opposition. England will need a fully fit, in form Wayne Rooney for next year’s World Cup if they are to do well.
England need to tighten up defensively
We all loved England’s new free-flowing attacking football against Poland but it does come at a price. Poland on numerous occasions found it too easy to get through England with on one occasion Robert Lewandowski running nearly the length of the England half unopposed. Against stronger opposition England need to strike a greater balance between attack and defence. The key to this could be who partners Steven Gerrard in central midfield as a more mobile midfielder is probably needed to play with the captain in this current system.
Leighton Baines strengthens claim to be first choice left back
Most the talk surrounding the national team these days is the lack of home grown talent out there. One position this does not apply to is left back. Leighton Baines, Ashley Cole, Kieran Gibbs and Luke Shaw are all first choice for their respective Premier League clubs. With Gibbs and Shaw earmarked for the future it’s almost certain Baines and Cole will be the two on the plane to Brazil next year. Cole has arguably been the best left back in Europe in the last five to ten years but on Tuesday Baines showed why he may have edged ahead of the 32 year old. The Everton players cross for Rooney’s goal was pure quality and to able to have a weapon like Baines’ left foot in the team may be too good to turn down.
England have a true leader in Gerrard
It wasn’t that surprising that it was Steven Gerrard who through pure determination barged his way through Poland’s defence and finished delicately to secure England’s place in next year’s world cup. This is not the same Gerrard who used to do this week in week out for Liverpool. He’s a more cultured deeper lying midfielder these days but when his team needs him he still has those flashes of pure brilliance. He leads by example and has taken to the England captaincy seamlessly. His fellow scouser Wayne Rooney said that Gerrard should have been given the England captaincy long before he got it officially just before Euro 2012 and it’s hard not to agree with him.
Townsend impresses again
Andros Townsend proved against Poland that he can deal with the expectancy which was placed on him after a terrific debut just days earlier. The Spurs winger played excellently again and made you think something was going to happen every time he had the ball. He was mightily unlucky not to score with a long raged left footed curler which would have even out done his debut goal. Townsend will now be firmly in Roy Hodgson’s plans. His challenge is too keep his place in the Spurs team with all the millions of pounds of attacking talent ready to take his place and try to replicate these levels of performances more often than not in the league for his club.