England’s experienced players still have a future under Roy Hodgson
Sharethematch.com looks at the futures of England veterans Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and John Terry
Cole and co should stick around
England tournament exits are usually followed by a raft of retirements from the more senior players – but there could be none this time around.
At least not from anyone we would prefer to stick around. Someone like Rob Green might decide he has had enough of playing second fiddle to Joe Hart, but that would not be a big loss.
The more experienced players, such as Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard, appear to continue to enjoy playing for their country. They, along with the absent Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard may be the most likely age-wise to consider “concentrating on their club” or “making way for a younger generation” but it is quite unlikely.
Gerrard, having finally been given the captaincy full-time, excelled at Euro 2012 and was England’s best player. He will not want to relinquish the armband so soon after getting it.
And Cole will surely be fired up to collect his 100th cap, after his 98th ended with him missing a penalty – the Chelsea defender will want to end his international career on a positive note.
Lampard too is close to 100 international caps and will be determined to force his way back into Roy Hodgson’s plans having missed out through injury, while Ferdinand has said he will never give up on England after being very publicly left out of the Euros squad – several times it seems.
Cole and Gerrard proved, along with John Terry – another who could retire but probably will opt against doing so as he also loves playing for his country – that they remain genuinely world class in Ukraine.
A tale of two penalties
Two of the nine spot-kicks taken last night told us everything about why England have such a dismal record on penalties – and neither were taken by a man in white.
Firstly, there was Mario Balotelli, strolling up to the spot with unwavering arrogance. Joe Hart did his best to knock him out of his stride but that prompted a wry smile from his club-mate, who subsequently tucked the ball away.
Perhaps Balotelli was a touch nervous but he visibly shrugged off the occasion on his way to the penalty spot and he was never going to miss.
Then there was Andrea Pirlo who single-handedly turned the tide of the shoot-out back in his side’s favour with a quite remarkable penalty.
Pirlo’s effort was not arrogant, nor would it be right to say he took it with confidence. Confidence suggests that there was an element of doubt that he might miss, but the Juventus midfielder stepped up with utter conviction that he would score, and in doing so, made a mockery of England’s frightened penalty takers.
Gerrard scored, as he had to as captain, while Wayne Rooney’s superior technique got him through – it is little surprise that England’s best to players found the net.
Ashley Young hit and hoped and paid the penalty while it was painted all over Cole’s face that he had no idea what he was going to do as he put the ball down.
Until England learn to take penalties without the fear of failure this unenviable record will not stop.
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