Looking at England’s recent friendly against Mexico, one thing that is certain is the England team lack depth. The so called fringe players were supposed to grab this chance to prove their worth but none of them did any justification to why they are deserving of a starting spot. Without a doubt, the first team are a strong unit and on their day, they can beat any team. However, look beyond it and I’m sure we can see the underlying problem of how the players coming into the team as replacements for the starting eleven quite often struggle when given the chance to stake a claim.

When it comes to the first eleven, Capello has everything from personnel to formation and a system of playing that is already fine tuned and seems settled; most importantly, they play the way Capello wants them to play. Against Mexico however, there were some interesting observations made. Apart from Peter Crouch, the other players coming into the team struggled to stamp their mark on the team. The score line ended favourably for England but anybody who watched the game would not disagree if I say they were far from convincing and struggled to play as a unit. James Milner was as hardworking as ever but lacked the extra bit of quality to control the game from the middle of the park and Michael Carrick’s performance just about summed up his season. Carrick kept giving the ball away and was anonymous throughout the time he was on the field. Ledley King scored a goal but there were mistakes from him that went unpunished as well.

Same formation, same system but why didn’t it work this time? The answer could simply be the reason these players are considered reserves for the team. If England were faced with a similar situation at the World Cup, where key players were to be either injured or suspended, could they afford to put in another performance like they did against Mexico? No disrespect to Mexico, but if it were a team with the calibre of Spain, it might have been a totally different result. The gap of class between the eleven that is going to start in South Africa and the probable replacements is quite evident and this could go a long way to determining  how far England can progress in the World Cup.

Capello has probably chosen the best 30 available players to make up the squad but it remains to be seen if they are good enough altogether as a squad to win the biggest prize in world football. The fringe players have to step up to the mark and perform when or if Capello needs them and another performance like the one against Mexico could ruin their chances in the World Cup. There is a question however if whether England has a plan B. Rather than sticking to the same formula, Capello could utilise these players and play them to their strength which would probably involve changing the formation and system but with time and games running out, it is uncertain whether Capello has a plan B and being the manager he is, we all hope he has the answer to this problem and if he could guide them far enough into the tournament, it would be a massive achievement considering the lack of depth in the squad. Have your say; do you think the England team is strong enough as a unit to win the World Cup?

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