FFS Gareth, unleash Foden! England winners, losers & ratings as feeble Three Lions get World Cup reality check
The boos which greeted the full-time whistle said it all. England's fans were not happy, and understandably so.
The Three Lions supporters had unveiled a 'Hope and Glory' banner before kick-off but their bid to win the 2022 World was given a serious reality check at the Al Bayt Stadium as Gareth Southgate's side were held to a 0-0 draw by the United States.
They could have little complaints about the final scoreline too. Indeed, if anyone deserved to win this game it was the Americans, who recovered from a nervy start to create the better chances, with the otherwise impressive Weston McKennie blazing over when well placed, and Christian Pulisic striking the crossbar.
England, by contrast, offered absolutely nothing in attack, which was utterly bizarre given they looked lethal in their 6-2 rout of Iran on matchday one.
Below, GOAL runs through the winners and losers from an underwhelming evening for one of the supposed World Cup contenders...
- Gavi & De Jong BOSS El Clasico! Winners & Losers as Barcelona dominate in midfield to put away Real Madrid in season-defining victory
- If not Bellingham, then who? Caicedo, Tielemans & Liverpool's potential January transfer window midfield signings
- More misery for Lionel Messi! PSG winners and losers as star storms down the tunnel following home loss to Rennes
- Arsenal player ratings vs Crystal Palace: Brilliant Bukayo Saka sends Premier League leaders EIGHT points clear!
- Getty Images
So far, so good for Harry Maguire here in Qatar. Remember, not many England fans wanted him anywhere near the squad – and with good cause, given his lack of game time at Manchester United during the first half of the season. However, it has to be said that the much-maligned centre-half has, thus far at least, fully justified Southgate's unwavering support. After a decent outing against Iran, he looked even more like his old self here, making three headed clearances in quick succession at one point in the second half. He also went on a little jinking run into the area during the opening quarter – a sure sign that he's rediscovered his confidence with England, after a testing time at Old Trafford.
If there's one thing that the Three Lions don't lack, it's quality out wide. They proved that against Iran, with Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford coming off the bench to score, after Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling had earlier netted. So, the latter two forwards will be sweating over their starting spots for the game against Wales after failing to impress against the US. Sterling should be particularly concerned, as Saka did at least look menacing early on. The Chelsea winger made next-to-no impression on the game and it will be fascinating to see if Southgate keeps faith in him. What will be even more interesting, though, is whether Phil Foden sees any game time in the final group fixture. The Manchester City ace is arguably England's most technically gifted player – and yet he didn't even make it off the bench against the U.S. even though the Three Lions were crying out for his kind of creativity. It would be farcical if Foden doesn't feature against Wales and would only strengthen the suspicion that Southgate sees some sort of deficiency in the 22-year-old's game that nobody else does.
- Getty Images
What a comedown for Jude Bellingham after the high of his World Cup debut against Iran. The Borussia Dortmund sensation didn't just score in England's opener, he also ran the show in the middle of the park. Here, he got outshone by Weston McKennie, which is never a good look. Bellingham is a truly incredible prospect but his early withdrawal here, after failing to have a meaningful impact on proceedings, served as a timely and useful reminder that he won't always have it all his own way at this level.
The draw was undeniably kind to England, just as it was in 2018 in Russia, and there was the feeling that Harry Kane might once again run riot in the group stage to put himself in contention to win a second consecutive Golden Boot. However, Kane has yet to get off the mark in Qatar and, worryingly, he's not really come close to scoring. Walker Zimmerman did make one brilliant block to deny the Spurs striker but, for the most part, Kane was ineffective, and even started dropping deep to try get on the ball. The question now will be how much was he affected by the ankle injury he sustained against Iran. It's a real concern, anyway, as Kane is arguably the one player in the England line-up who is irreplaceable up front.
The Three Lions boss was right to stick with the same starting line-up that had torn Iran apart but his mistake here was waiting too long to make a change. It was clear well before half-time that things weren't working. England looked lethargic and devoid of inspiration. He should have made at least one substitution during the break to liven things up. As it was, he inexplicably waited until the 69th minute to try change the momentum of the game. By that stage, though, the U.S. had been on top for more than half an hour. Unsurprisingly, those that believe Southgate is too cautious and conservative to get the best out of this extravagantly talented group of players were once again making their disapproval known online long before the full-time whistle blew. And if he once again ignores Foden against Wales, Southgate risks making a rod for his own back...
In the grand scheme of things, this is not a bad result. Avoid defeat against a Wales side outclassed by Iran and England will almost certainly progress to the last 16 as winners of Group C, which was the pre-tournament expectation. However, it would be impossible to class this display as anything but deflating, given what had gone before. England looked a pale imitation of the side that tore Iran to shreds. They were frustratingly flat, which is a seriously worrying sign at this stage of the competition. One could argue that the squad will benefit from this reality check, as it will reduce the pressure on their shoulders. But the bottom line is that the Three Lions didn't look anything like World Cup winners at the Al Bayt Stadium.
- Getty Images
England Ratings: Defence
Jordan Pickford (6/10):
Even though the Americans piled on the pressure, Pickford didn't actually see much real action.
Kieran Trippier (5/10):
A pretty underwhelming display. Dodgy in defence and offered little going forward. Miscontrolled one pass early on, allowing the ball to go out of play and that set the tone for his evening. Lucky to avoid a booking for a mistimed tackle on Antonee Robinson.
John Stones (6/10):
Clumsy foul on Yunus Musah in the first half but alive to snuff out the danger when Pulisic tried to latch onto a long throw from Matt Turner. Passing was predictably precise.
Harry Maguire (8/10):
Much more like it from Maguire. Stood up to well to Sergino Dest to deflect the ball away for a corner before later making a trio of massive headed clearances.
Luke Shaw (6/10):
Definitely the livelier of England's two full-backs. Indeed, Shaw made one terrific run into the area at the tail end of the first half only to see Saka shoot over.
- Getty Images
Jude Bellingham (4/10):
A tough night for the teenage sensation, who was hauled off midway through the second half having failed to make his mark.
Declan Rice (5/10):
Recent comparisons with Roy Keane really are ridiculous. Utterly incapable of taking a game like this by the scruff of the neck.
- Getty Images
Bukayo Saka (5/10):
Started brightly, twice getting in behind the US defence to create one good chance for Kane. He also had a decent opportunity at the end of the opening 45 minutes but he skied Shaw's cut-back. Faded after the break.
Mason Mount (4/10):
His most notable contribution was a pathetic dive just after the half-hour mark when he tried to make out that he had been smacked in the face by McKennie. Had one solid low drive well saved by Turner but that was about it from the industrious but uninspiring Chelsea man.
Raheem Sterling (4/10):
Lovely touch into the path of Mount for England's first shot on target but did next-to-nothing thereafter. Rightly withdrawn.
Harry Kane (5/10):
Held the ball up well but he had to drop too deep to get involved. Unlucky to see Zimmerman block his best opening but his lack of chances is a major cause for concern at this point in the tournament.
Subs & Manager
Jack Grealish (6/10):
Came on in place of Sterling with just over 20 minutes to go but failed to spark his side into life.
Jordan Henderson (6/10):
Took over in midfield from Bellingham and showed plenty of urgency but little game-changing quality.
Marcus Rashford (N/A):
Replaced Saka for the last 10 minutes.
Gareth Southgate (5/10):
Waited far too long to try mix things up. Has some big calls to make for the Wales game to try inject some energy back into his sluggish side.