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COMMENT: Lallana should have had a greater England role
England are deluding themselves if they try and claim that only a world class striker stood between them and victory against Uruguay. They were also partly masters of their own downfall.
And that includes Roy Hodgson on this occasion.
The England manager made a huge error in not using Saints captain Adam Lallana far more prominently in Sao Paulo last night.
Lallana was finally introduced to the action on 71 minutes, but that was far too short a time to give him a realistic chance to have a game changing impact.
England were crying out to have Lallana on the field so much earlier than that.
Even if you accept for a moment Hodgson’s decision not to start with him – and there has to be a real question mark over whether picking Danny Welbeck instead has really worked – he had to come on earlier.
There was an argument to make the change at half time.
It was already obvious by that point that England were not keeping the ball as effectively as they might like, and that they needed a different option.
They did create fleetingly from wide areas, but didn’t often look like scoring as it’s all very well attacking down the flanks but then you need a target man in the box to finish the chances.
Lallana not only helps you retain possession but has that extra bit of magic to open up sides.
There is nothing predictable about his play, as was the general style with England, and you can play more centrally, which suits the strikers England had on the pitch far more.
He drops into the space between the lines and pulls players all over the place, creating for himself and space for others to exploit.
The game was already way too frantic by 71 minutes, and any player will struggle to have much of a significant impact so deep into a match.
If Hodgson were to have bided his time with Lallana he should have been the first change after an hour rather than Ross Barkley, who was ineffective.
That, coupled with England’s at times awful defending, meant they contributed to their downfall.
If the first goal was the product of a world class pass and a world class finish that could have been defended better, the second was just horrible.
To concede from a straight punt downfield from the keeper is shocking. It’s real schoolboy stuff, no matter how good the striker finishing it is and how well he gambled on that accidental Steven Gerrard flick on.
Rickie Lambert got all of a couple of minutes, which was also a little baffling as at least he provided that penalty area presence so needed when you play for width and crosses into the box.
Luke Shaw predictably didn’t get a look in, while Gaston Ramirez wasn’t needed for Uruguay.
England are now staring down the barrel.
They can still qualify, but they are relying on favours from elsewhere, and they still have to beat Costa Rica too.
But unless they learn from their mistakes, and that includes surely now a start for Lallana in the next game, then they aren’t going to get much further anyway.
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