England 3 Mexico 1: More Questions Than Answers


If England could pass the ball they would be dangerous. Not for the first time under Fabio Capello, or any other manager for that fact, England were outclassed by a so-called “lesser” nation, only to come through with a scoreline that would suggest a comfortable victory. This was anything but convincing and the 88,000 who were present for England’s final warm up game on home soil will have every reason for concern.

The final 3-1 scoreline flattered England and was a harsh reflection on a Mexican side, whose Spain-lite passing and movement was of the fluid variety so often the undoing of England in recent years. With Gerardo Torrado dictating play from the centre of the vast Wembley turf, the Mexicans made a mockery of all the fuss made over the state of the pitch.

For some players you often get the feeling that the chance to impress in an England friendly is more of a hinderance than an opportunity. That could definitely be said for Michael Carrick, whose every pass seemed to edge him closer to spending the summer on the beach. His central midfield partner James Milner didn’t fare much better and looked out of depth in his new central midfield role.

Despite the impressive qualifying campaign under the Italian, Capello still seems intent on continuing the age-old tradition of England managers trying to fit square pegs in round holes. To see Milner start through the middle and Steven Gerrard on the left, leaves you to wonder the exact moment when Gerrard stopped being a central midfielder. Whether through his managers desire or his own ego refusing to do the dog work required, he is on the verge of becoming postion-less. When Capello switched the two in the second half England looked a far better side.

Twice in the first half Robert Green thwarted Arsenal’s Carlos Vela when through on goal and the West Ham goalkeeper was left motionless when Carlos Salcido’s curling shot from the edge of the area clipped the outside of his left-hand post.

The pace and movement of Mexico’s two wide men, Vela and Giovani Dos Santos, was causing all kinds of trouble and Ledley King was given a torrid time in his first international appearance for three years. However, as is so often the case, England went 2-0 up with two goals from set-pieces. For all their impressive play with the ball on the floor, Javier Aguirre’s side were horribly exposed by two excellent crosses from Steven Gerrard. Ledley King got the first, after heading in Crouch’s centre, and the Tottenham striker got the second when he followed up after Wayne Rooney’s header hit the bar.

Franco got a deserved goal for Mexico just before half-time but any hopes of a second half come-back were dashed straight after the restart. Theo Walcott did well on the right before the ball fell to Glen Johnson, who charged inside three players and curled the ball into the top corner with his left foot.

There were some bright points for England in the second half but they still had to be content to let Mexico dictate the tempo of the game. Glen Johnson impressed at right back, Robert Green looks to have cemented his place in goal and hopefully the Chelsea trio of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole will bring their double winning form into the side for the opening game against USA in 19 days time.

England under Capello have delivered when it mattered but tournament football is a different beast and, if anything, tonight’s victory has, once again, provided more questions than answers.

28 thoughts on “England 3 Mexico 1: More Questions Than Answers”

  1. I thought we were shit tonight and this did not fill me with hope. I can’t understand why fabio does not play gerrard behind rooney instead of playing heskey, defoe and crouch up there.
    I think the team was under strength with terry, cole and lampard missing but still.
    Milner was shit, carrick was shit, baines was shit, crouch was shit. ffs stop playing these shit strikers up there with rooney, play gerrard up there and lampard and huddlestone in the midfield with A. Johnson on the left wallcott on the right. How f$cking hard is that team to pick.

    Credit to the Mexican side, i thought they played well although they can’t defend for shit and they can’t finish either. They do play good fotball though.

    1. yeah i agree i think mexico played a good game but they cant defend for shut and the wannabe marques is not the answer for mexico defense also i think that mexico stills sucks like hell

  2. I have to disagree, Mexico definitely knew quick, Spain-esque movement is the way to derail England, but I don’t think they carried it out well at all, too many poorly weighted or directed passes. I only saw the second half, and thought England defended well, maybe due to Mexico’s struggles. They looked good going forward, with some nice interplay with Gerrard and Rooney. The only time they really seemed a little stuck was in the center with Milner panicking a couple of times, otherwise Walcott was alright and but for some Mexican bookings late on England could have easily had more goals. This coming from an impartial observer.

    1. Sorry, but winning is not enough for me, especially when I feel we were lucky to win. They had 2-3 good chances in the first half and out second goal was offside so we could have actually come in at half time 3-1 behind and not 2-1 up.
      We got passed off the park and apart from the fact that they are shit at defending and were unable to take their chances, we could have been beat.
      This is not what i’m looking for when we are 3 weeks away from the world cup. If we play like that against a good team we’re going no where in this tourney and that is not good enough

  3. If you were to look at the England squad today for the first time you would swear Crouch is our star forward. Rooney looked a little lost.

    I will say this – England and English fans always do this. The team is not only expected to win but to also win while playing well. A German or Spanish team doesn’t get all the negative press for a win. They generally just accept the win and move on. England, on the other hand, has to be picked apart even after a 3-1 win.

    Couldn’t you apply that famous cliché we often apply to teams like Manchester United? Something about great teams winning even when they play badly.

  4. Yes England were crap. But it cant be unexpected. They were missing 3 critical starters in Terry, Cashley and Lampard. These holes got exposed readily by the pace of the Mexican team who looked like a team ready to play on June 11.

    I would agree that it left me asking questions. I honestly don’t see anyone who will pair well with Rooney. All of the other options are rather second rate. Crouch has to be the frontrunner, but his performance today can’t have helped his case.

    Unless Barry is ready and fit by June 1 (which is becoming increasingly unlikely as every day passes) i honestly cannot see a way that england don’t use Gerrard and Lampard together in the center of the park, especially from how Milner and Carrick fared today. Gerrard out wide left is a round peg in a square hole. Would Lennon and Walcott starting wide left and right be the worst thing that ever happened?

    I am not putting too much in this match, and we will see a finer tuned squad on sunday against Japan, but I must say, i was a bit surprised this afternoon…

  5. Typical Mexico-USA game with England representing USA. Although the final score of a USA-Mexico game in the US is usually 2-0 but 3-1 would suffice.

    Mexico dominates the 1st half but go down 1-0 on a set piece, typical.

  6. I agree with you all, England did not showed anything today, maybe thte players didnt care for a frienldy game against Mexico.
    I follow the Premier League and this is doesnt represent it.
    Mexico played well, still dont understand why they used Conejo Perez as a goal keeper, too small and old.
    “played like never have before and lost as usually do”,
    2 corners = 2 goals
    p.d. we need strikers!!

  7. I think Capello (puppet) i.e (the fa) has picked the wrong players for this world cup squad. why isnt downing or ashley young in the team instead of lennon or walcott. in my opinion they are both better players than these, all they do is run like crazy down the wing and give the ball away, at least downing and young can get decent balls in especially if crouch is up front.

  8. Eric you should know better.

    It was a charity match for the FA to help pay their Wembley mortgage, nothing more.

    It was a friendly, players can never play with the same level of intensity of a competitive match. Mexico isn’t exactly a pushover, where you guys expecting a 5-0 win?

  9. I didn’t mind the scoreline but i would have like to see england deserve it. I think england have the players to do well, but i’m not sure that fabio is using them.

    Got to be a 4-3-3/4-5-1. Both man u and chelsea use it so it not gonna be something the players are not used to and england does not have another quality striker to warrent playing a 4-4-2. They might as well just play rooney up front on his own and play gerrard and lampard behind him and have a holding playing such as huddlestone/parker/barry playing behind those two.
    Left footed A.johnson on the left and walcott on the right. That to me looks a very good team especially when we would have G.Johnson, terry, ferdinand and A.cole at the back.
    Just do it fabio and make me happy

  10. England, relax! I was surprised how Mexico was able to dominate possession yesterday, but it seemed like that was largely a function of (1) England’s early formation, which was clearly experimental, and (2) the score later in the game.

    If England starts any WC match with Milner and Carrick in central mid, then you can worry. Pretty sure there is no reason to be concerned on that front! With Gerrard and Lampard in the middle, and Terry behind them, it shouldn’t much matter in the group stage whether capello slots Huddlestone, Barry or Milner in between as a DM in a 4-5-1, or puts Crouch or Defoe up with Rooney in a 4-4-2. England will be fine.

    Also, I actually didn’t think Milner looked that bad.

  11. Line of the year thus far from a sportswriter (sorry I don’t remember who wrote it, it was in the Guardian) — “After the match, Michael Carrick attempted to pass a cup of tea to Capello, but he sent it ten yards left to a guy wearing a sombrero.” Pretty much summed up Carrick’s night….

  12. England didn’t play well but we won. A disjointed affair but already the English press have started attacking Walcott, Carrick etc. The key is the public expectancy. For some reason we believe we have a divine right to be in the final. We have not. There is something structurally wrong with the whole English set up. We are very insular as a footballing nation. How many brilliant English youth players go abroad? You could ask how many senior English players play abroad? Rooney is our only hope blah blah blah. Same old England… We don’t play football in a way that makes the hair stand up on my neck. Watch England live… We castigate players who try a trick and lose the ball. We applaud crunching tackles and spend the match screaming insults. Since when was this the beautiful game?? We do not play with a freedom and its apparent. If its all about winning then fine… but we don’t win. We lose being defensive. Oh no penalties again….

    The press, the fans, the F.A, the coaching, the youth set up… all needs to be looked at.

    Sorry to be so dour but after watching England for twenty four years… it is like a broken record. So close yet so far. Lose on penalties. English team needs a rethink blah blah blah….

    If we win the world cup then I will be the happiest fan alive but I do fear for our chances particularly against teams that keep the ball well.

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