How Weak is Englands Backline?

Jun. 07, 2010 - South Africa - Football - Platinum Stars v England World Cup Warm-Up Match - Moruleng Stadium, Moruleng, North West Province, South Africa - 7/6/10..England's Ledley King in action.

With England’s captain Rio Ferdinand now out of the World Cup Finals, one would think the notoriously pessimistic English would be packing it in already with fears about their defense, but there has hardly been a tremor. Throughout the Premiership campaign Ferdinand had not played up to potential, and many believe that his replacement, likely to be Ledley King, is at least, if not more, capable than the Man United man.

Although there are always comments to be made about the state of King’s knees, he seems to have reassured everyone of his commitment, backing the talk up with evidence from his heavy minutes towards the end of Tottenham’s season. As for his skills, he is comfortable with the ball, needed as he is replacing England’s ball distributing center-half. Rarely caught out of position, everyone assumes King and John Terry should be a stern test for the varied offenses England will find in South Africa.

Things are rarely that simple, however, and while the decision to go with King might very well reap rewards, the weaknesses in such a choice must be considered as well. It is rarely the most talented team that wins the competition, normally the unit that has the best chemistry, and the best execution succeeds. Sadly, you cannot just plant two players next to each other and expect everything to work out, (England fans should know this, they have been dealing with the Gerrard/Lampard conundrum for ages). The problem here is that even a fully healthy defender would struggle to form a good partnership with Terry at this late stage, but King has to do it without the benefit of full and regular training sessions.

The central defensive pairing for England will become even more important as they will be expected to help out on the flanks quite a lot, with Johnson’s tendency to bomb up the field, and Ashley Cole too playing a risky style (although he is rarely caught out). Communication and understanding becomes vital because otherwise viewers will be seeing a lot of King dealing with two forwards in the box as Terry goes chasing off into a challenge on the wings.

Terry himself has been a bit of a worry in the past few months, never a defender with great speed, he seemed to have lost a step and was making it up with physicality that might be tolerated in the EPL but would be booked in international play. Still, the old adage says form is temporary, class is permanent, (although it is pretty much assumed Terry has none, at least socially). For all Terry can’t do  with reliability, at least anymore, (take space away from the entire front line, make precise passes to start the break), there are certain things that he remains excellent at, such as predicting where crosses will end up and getting into position early, (vital with the new ball that everyone is complaining about), and guarding set plays. He is also very vocal, which will be needed to create some form of chemistry between him and King.

They key for England is to stop worrying about what their defenders can’t do, and focus on what they’re great at. Sven’s old tactics of scoring a goal and sitting on it will not be a winning strategy at this World Cup, offenses are too good. Johnson and Cole’s offensive prowess will be needed to add much needed variety to England’s attack and Terry and King are no slouches at set pieces. England’s defense is not as strong as it could be, but it certainly looks like it can get the job done.

13 thoughts on “How Weak is Englands Backline?”

    1. “It is rarely the most talented team that wins the competition, normally the unit that has the best chemistry, and the best execution succeeds. Sadly, you cannot just plant two players next to each other and expect everything to work out”

      Exactly, reno!! Spurs CB pairing was one of, if not THE best in the league this season, and Dawson might have been the best player on Tottenham. Put King and Daws back there, and rest easy.

  1. I have a feeling ledley king will shine and silence the doubters.He has never let his club down.This is his only chance due to his injury problems.In my opinion he is a better defender than TERRY AND ferdinand but his injuries have hampered him

  2. The greater issue for me is the RB – Johnson is awful defensively. We will see CB’s caught out of position simply because Glen is such a liability. The fact of the matter is that King is good enough for Upsons greater training time to be negated. If the CB chemistry was that important then Dawson would play with King. I agree it weakens the side to have someone just come in like King has to but the other options are worse.

  3. I don’t know why people keep talking about the English defence being weak. I personally think we have the best full backs in the competition and I wouldn’t swap them with any other pairing in the world. I don’t remember people getting on the backs of Brazil’s fullbacks when the likes of Roberto Carlos and Cafu used to bomb down the wings and create chances. I remember thinking wow when I watched them, i wish England had fullbacks that did that.
    Now we have and i’m happy as a pig in shit about the pairing.

    Come on England

    1. Amen to that, brutha. Agree with you 100%.

      People keep talking about Donovan ripping down the space on the flanks, but he might spend the game protecting his full-back.

  4. The comparison with Lampard and Gerrard is absolutely moronic. The reason they don’t work together in the centre is because they both play just behind the forwards and very few teams are willing to make a system that allows 2 players to do that. The reason King can do what he does without the training is because his positional sense is second to none so I really can’t see it being a problem. Besides, you make it sound like Terry and Ferdinand play side by side week in week out. Even for England one or the other is often injured and we’ve coped before. We still have one of the best, if not the best central defensive pairing in the world with King and Terry. That’s 2 world class defenders right there. Look at Spain – Pique and Puyol – world class? Hardly, they just have an excellent team in front of them at Barca.

  5. King and Terry played together in youth teams, they know each other well. King is better at scoring from set pieces than Ferdinand is, but those knees!! Won’t be long before Dawson is in the side?

  6. Instead of knocking Kings confidence get behind him and give him a boost,we dont have a lot of alternatives.Ferdinand has not been right for a long time and even when he was in top form and fit i still think he was second best to King. Ledley in my opinion is the better central defender of the Ferdinand/Terry/King option. Our options have been forced to be changed,so we must go with what we have.Later in the competition we have Dawson and I am convinced King will give his all.Ledley King is a leader end of,what he lacks is international experience wich he can only gain with playing time

  7. England fans with exeption of the truely great man utd supporters:get real.this England team with the exception of Rooney & carrick are BOTTLERS.David James is choke artist,glen Johnson is outright shit,terry will be found out because he is too slow,ledley king won’t play more than 2-3 games,Ashley cole is okay but not what he was,carragher well I don’t know what capello was thinking picking him instead of Gary Neville who shits down on him,he (carragher)is more likely to score against his team than score for them & was caught out every game he played last season FACHT!,joe cole is average & over-rated,lampard has never done it for England ever,gerrard is not a top player anymore,his legs are gone & he is SHIT,Lennon is fast but end product is in question big time & wright Phillips dosen’t have a brain in his head like be honest England fans I will be supporting Rooney but I don’t want scum terry winning a world would be deeply wrong.

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