England vs Tunisia player ratings…sort of
Player ratings are a curious aspect of football writing. “Well, was he a 6 or a 7? TELL ME!” Reducing an individual human being to a number between 1 and 10 feels wrong. It’s also hard. So instead we’re going to write about the England player’s performances last night, but there’ll be no numbers. Sorry.
David James. Paul Robinson. Rob Green. Scott Carson. Joe Hart. Jordan Pickford.
What does Pickford have in common with all the rest (aside from being an England ‘keeper)?
Absolutely nothing (hopefully?). But it really is too early to tell.
He might look like a bit-part actor from The Bill striving for glory in a charity match. He might look like that lad at school with fags in his lunchbox. He might look like a man who genuinely considers Richmond sausages to be the finest money can buy.
Last night he certainly looked every inch an England centre-back too.
John. Compact. Unremarkable. Sometimes there’s a lot in a name. John, did you do anything wrong? It’s hard to recall. Nor does anything you did right particularly stand out. In all honesty, it’s hard to recall anything about your performance last night at all. We couldn’t be happier about that. Keep that up John.
A player who’s divided opinion here positionally. The whole Kyle-Walker-is-now-an-international-centre-back-thing-(in-Gareth-we-trust) undoubtedly took a blow last night. The penalty was harsh but Walker’s arm should never have been there giving the ref a decision to make. Should Cahill come in? Should Walker play at right wing-back? The latter would be harsh on the excellent Trippier who deserves to retain his berth. So, does Walker start against Panama? Lots of questions for Gareth Southgate there. England manager? It ain’t all that kids.
Excellent, as above. Next.
Ashley Young’s right foot splits Foul Throw opinion like an Andrea Pirlo through-ball-through-butter. It’s either a cultured threat capable of cutting inside and delivering quality or an appendage to a player out of position who slows down the team on the break.
Last night there was evidence for both against a team when, because of their deep defensive line, it should have mattered less. It might be more of a problem against Belgium, where speed on the counter could prove vital. Will he shine? Will he even start, or will Danny Rose get a chance?
Looked like the pressure of dictating the middle of the park for England at a World Cup got to him a bit. Not a bad performance, but slightly impetuous and nervous. On more than one occasion was guilty of eschewing patient build up in favour of a 40-yard killer ball as England chased a goal. Irony of ironies for Mr. Sideways football. Did he lack the experience, calm and doggedness of Milner next to him?
Hmmm. Hmm. Hmm, indeed. A reaction suitable both for his caramel topped barnet and his performance. He was fine but needs to take more responsibility as a creator. He’ll be crucial against Belgium and will need to get his foot on the ball and move it when England have the chance.
Channelled his inner Gennaro Gattuso, “sometimes maybe good, sometimes maybe sh*t”. He got the chances, which was good. He missed them all, which was bad.
Missed that chance. Not so much, ‘why didn’t he score?’ as ‘why did it have to be him that missed?’ Appears to have escaped the headlines that could have been, thanks to Kane’s winner. He hasn’t escaped criticism though, and maybe it’s a reach but it felt like he could already see, feel and hear that criticism as Lingard’s cross bobbled across the turf. Hopefully he’ll come back stronger than ever. He's still one of England’s best players and their biggest X factor and can be great in Russia yet.
Tops off. Pints flying. An eruption of alcohol-fuelled, England-infused jubilant noise.
And that was just the reaction to Harry’s opinions on the battle of Stalingrad.* The reaction to his winner was, if anything, muted by comparison.
A brace. The winner. The boy done good.
As the clock ticked down one (unnamed) half of the Foul Throw team could be heard muttering under his breath, ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man… get Welbeck on.’ One (Will Almond) member of the Foul Throw team picked Harry Kane for the golden boot. A stark reminder of why the former is not England manager, why Gareth Southgate is and why the latter really ought to be.
*He said - he actually said - when asked about how it felt to play in the shadow of Stalingrad. ‘History, it is what it is.’ And you thought scoring an injury time winner for England at the World Cup was glorious.
We’re not doing the subs.
Roll on Panama, from where football will be returning. Or something.