WHUFC vs Newcastle United 04/05/2013 EPL


if this game was a month ago, it would of been a cracker. Both managers had managed their opposition. 2 key players in claret and blue were both once Tyneside legends, and both teams were looking for points and playing well.

This game however saw WHU safe and in the top half and unless there is some major shock results, a draw would suit Newcastle (Wigan beating WBA away, anyone ? :)).

Sam picked his probable best team with the improving O’Neill anchoring the middle instead of Noble, and RVT on the right hand side instead of Joe Cole.

The first half was instantly forgettable, except for on 20 mins, Cisse stripped Collins easily to pass the ball past Jussi, and towards the empty net. Mr Winston Reid arrives on the scene to clear right of the line, but watching it again today on the telly would suggest it might be a good case for goal line technology. The games stumbles towards half time with Gutierrez faking injury and really bonding with the home support.

The game livened up a little in the second half, but no one really troubled either goalkeeper. Carroll, although industrious all game , sent a couple of headers past the post, and Jussi got all caught up coming off his line to leave the goal unattended again but the oncoming shot / cross went past the far post for a goal kick. Matt Jarvis got a few good crosses in late on, and Carroll and Nolan forced a great double save from Elliot to keep the honours even.

Which is how they ended up. A point for West Ham which could be a few quid, but a point for the Geordies leaves them just above the drop zone, and Wigan have a game in hand. Chunky Pardew (dont ask) doesn’t seem phased, but if I was a Newcastle fan , the lack of urgency would bother me.

Nice of Sam to only makes subs where they were needed, and keep Diame and Gary O’Neill on the pitch for 90 minutes.

So for his goal line clearance and general all round good play, todays MOTM goes to Winston Reid.

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The once great Geordie nation nearly fills out less than 1 quarter of the North Bank.

WHUFC vs Wigan Athletic 20/04/2013


After our well earned point (some would say moral victory) against the Champions elect earlier this week, I really fancied us to continue on to win against Wigan this weekend. It’s always a close game, in fact we were two nil up and then went on to lose to a last minute goal in May 2011 which saw WHU relegated, and Avram Grant getting home under his own steam.

This time around, we are on an unbeaten run of 4 games and Wigan are staring down the barrel of relegation, with an FA Cup final to look forward to.

Sam made no changes to the starting line up, but Joe Cole was added to the bench. The opening salvos from both teams set themselves out to attack. West Ham a chance with a flashing header from Collins just going wide from a corner, and Maloney for Wigan got on the end of a great through ball only to be blocked by Jussi. From then on WHU seem to take control and it was only a matter of time, although the inevitable goal was a little unexpected. Matt Jarvis seem to be having a field day down the wing, and once again in the 21st minute he crossed in the ball after a great burst out of the midfield by Diame. This cross missed about 2 Wigan players, Diame and Nolan lashed at it to no avail, and then the Latics goalie let it go past him, to open the scoring for WHU. For all their dominance, WHU didn’t capitalise on this lead.

The second half was more of the same and then Sam did as Sam does and swapped out the whole midfield, with quick succession, O’Neill, Diame and RVT (who was woeful) were replaced by Noble, Joe Cole and Collison. Notice Nolan was not replaced, even though he seemed ineffectual if I’m honest. Again.

Anyway, WHU went into free fall  and if it wasn’t for Jussi, we would of been behind, as Wigan threw everything at us, and we had no way of stopping it.

This game had draw written all over it until with 10 minutes to go a long free kick found the ever impressive Carroll who moved it on brilliantly for Nolan to volley it in for his 100th premier league goal, and some justification for him still being on the pitch.

So WHU win 2-0, and Wigan might not get out of the hole this time. They did not have the luck, and being a WHU fan, I know what happens when you are down there. You cannot buy luck or goals. However you can buy players and there are a couple I could see playing in claret and blue if Wigan do go down ! Maloney for one.

We have all but secured our position in the league for next year, and can look forward for a change. Being in the top half has a nice feel to it as well, so lets hope we can stay there.

MOTM: Jussi Jaaskelainen. Just pure class again and kept us in the game when BFS block replaced a midfield unit. Gary O’Neill gets a shout as well, for his performance up until he was subbed.

Ton up Kev
Ton up Kev

WHUFC vs Manchester United 17/04/2013 EPL


This years 4th tie against the Champions Elect (beats Birmingham !) was supposed to be a dead rubber as far as I was concerned. Sam had loads of defenders out. We can beat Wembley bound Wigan at the weekend to stay up, and Man U can do pretty much what they want to win the title.

So I was surprised to see Winston Reid back in the team, and Noble on the bench. Still one up top , but hey ho. Man U played probably their strongest available team as well, with both  Ferdinand and Vidic, and Rooney and Van Persie starting.

Talking of Rooney, you can tell what sort of game he will have within 3 minutes of kick off, and this was not going to be one to build his legacy. In fact he was awful, and my xmas prediction of him leaving this summer is starting to look nailed on. His attitude is all wrong for starters.

WHU were on top for a change from the off. The midfield seem to flow into attack nicely, and Jarvis was seeing plenty of the ball. RVT wasn’t but no issue there. United seemed to be taking it in their stride, but the did look frail.

I seem to be on the only one who spotted RVT drift in from the outside right to get on the end of Carroll’s flick on the open the scoring on 16 minutes.

And still WHU looked comfortable. But being WHU you just knew something was going to happen, and just before half time they all switched off, for United to put 3 or 4 perfect balls together, and end up with Valencia getting the equaliser. Just before the break was the only contentious point of the match (for me – see later), Rooney and Carroll had some handbags before a corner which the ref stopped. Carroll reacted when the corner was taken, by bludgeoning through both De Gea and Evra. Most odd behaviour. And no punishment.

I assume this was pointed out at half time, because early into the second half De Gea and big Andy both went for a ball which the Spaniard won but then dragged Carroll for about 10 feet by his neck before dumping him on the floor. Yellow Card for carroll, obviously !.

This spurred on Andy, he then tried a cheeky one from about 30 yrds out that went close, and then he won to ball for Diame to roast the poor Rooney and blast in a 20 yarder to give the Hammers the lead again in the 55th minute.

Rooney was subbed for Giggs and Sam decided to Sub off our midfield (because this worked so well against Liverpool !). Giggs and Kagawa were linking up well (until the little fella was subbed off for the other little fella Hernandez), and pressure was piling on WHU, and resulted with 14 mins to go an equaliser for United after Kagawa managed to hit James Collins and both posts with RVP netting the follow up. Apparently he was offside but in true Arsene style i have not seen it, so only one bit of contention for me tonight. We tried our best in the last 20 minutes to throw it away but eventually got it over the line and another point on the board and our second 2-2 against Man U this season.

The score was about right, with Jussi making some world class saves (as usual at the moment), and no one goes home unhappy, unless you count me queuing nearly 20 mins for a tube, while watch plonkers jump over fences and stewards doing nothing at all.

MOTM, could of been James Collins early on, Carroll for his effort, Jussi for the saves, but this time I’ll go for Diame, as he scored a screamer, kept most of the Man U midfield quiet all night (until subbed), and had he stayed on i think we might have edged it. Still not happy with BFS playing RVT but he scored tonight so what do i know !

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Worth every penny. Mohamed Diame

Liverpool vs WHUFC EPL 07/04/2013


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Not having won here for 50 years, I wasn’t expecting WHU to tear up any trees here today at Anfield.

We started minus Andy Carroll for loan condition reasons, and drafted in Carlton Cole to lead the line. It was telling that after 10 minutes the commentator pointed out that WHU were playing with a back six! We were defending a constant stream of Liverpool attacks. This seemed to get even more intense when Sturridge replaced and injured Downing after 25 minutes.

Collins and Tomkins (in for the injured Reid) seemed to be blocking and tackling everywhere.

Diame for WHU was making to odd forage forward but Cole’s lacks of recent games seem to be showing with poor touches and non-existent passing. Towards the end of the half a loose pass from Liverpool led to Cole being straight on goal and his shot rebounded from Agger when it should of at least made the goal. WHU made some reasonable attacks towards half time but it was Liverpool on points at half time.

The second half was more of the same, but with WHU having a little more of the ball. Collins seem to have moved man to man on Suarez, which worked most of the time.  Jarvis was seeing a lot more of the ball and seem to be breaking down the Liverpool defence, especially  Carragher. Liverpool had countless attacks repelled, and a good shout for a penalty when Gerrad was taken down by Tomkins. The replay to me, showed it was a blatant pen.

In the last 10 mins Pogatetz had to come on for the now injured Tomkins (get well soon Reidy 🙂 ). Collison had a great header cleared off the line by Lucas for an unlikely first goal. In the absence of Tompkins, James Collins was immense in the last few minutes of the game.

No one will deny that this game was Liverpool’s to lose, and with a point today they will feel they have. However it is another step for WHU towards premiership continuity, which is needed even more with the extra money coming into the league next year and the impending move to our new stadium.

James Collins gets the nod for MOTM as he was immense, but Jussi, Diame, Jarvis, O’Brien, and Tomka all put a shift in.

All in all a frustrating game for both sides fan’s to watch, but for different reasons.

WHUFC vs Tottenham Hotspur EPL 25/02/2013


Bit late for new year, but we invited the neighbours over for a party, and ensured they left with the favours. I say left, they were stolen by one man.

This game was billed as a tribute to the late great Bobby Moore, who passed away 20 years ago (seems I was at the gates of Upton Park yesterday), and as a spectacle more than lived up to it.

There was a one minute applause, followed by a fans mosaic celebrating the man. I was in the mosaic and I have one comment. Next time, show it on the screen at the other end, or we have no idea what we are showing ! Judging by the camera flashes (plenty from the Spurs section), it was impressive enough.

Noble was replaced by Gary O’Neill in the middle, and Guy Demel was brought in at right back. The game got underway with WHU on the attack for a change. At the six minute mark there was a another break out of “Bobby Moores’ claret and blue army”, and WHU continued piling on the pressure, with Jarvis getting in crosses, and Joe Cole looking lively.

On the rare Spurs attacks it was being pointed out by the WHU faithful that Gareth Bale looked a little like a chimp. He responded by taking a goal, that on the replay was well taken ,but in play looked too easy for him. Skipping along the edge of the box he then turned to pass the ball past Jussi for the opener. WHU seemed to fall apart, and thing didn’t look good.

10 minutes later, Scott Parker (who was getting booed all night, nice one WHU “fans”) took out Carroll to give WHU a pen. Up steps Carroll in place of Noble and smashes it home. By this time Nolan was already struggling and was replaced 10 minutes later by Taylor. With none of the usual midfield cautiousness, WHU seemed to push on and finished the half well ,with Jarvis going close with an acrobatic volley.

At half time, Becks said to me “what a shambles, bloody disgrace ,etc”. No idea what game he was watching. I’m no fan of Allardyce but I tend to remember what I’m watching !

The second half was pretty quite with Bale being especially quiet if I’m honest, but you know it wont last. When he doesn’t have the ball he is constantly moving, chopping and changing markers all the time. This confuses defenders (poor lambs), and mixes up formations.

Just over a quarter into the half (an eighth ?), up pops Joe Cole, to finish off a good move between Caroll and himself, to poke it past Lloris to put the Hammers 2-1 up. Jussi spends the next 20 minutes being the best keeper in the world, making some of the most outrageous saves, including a double from Adebayour that I’m sure he still doesn’t know what happened.

At this stage a point works, and 3 would be great. Enter Big Sam. Demel comes off for Pogatetz, and we lose a goal mouth scramble for a Spurs equalizer. Then, the main thorn in their side Diame is brought off for Collison, who for all his skills is not a hard hitting midfield general. Then Sam gets his get out jail card, with hardly anything left on the clock, Gareth Bale, scores a world class goal from miles out from nothing, no run up or big swing just pure class.

So did Sam throw it away ? Based on Jussi in the second half probably not, but he could of maybe helped the situation.

The league situation is looking very precarious now, but a win against Stoke this weekend could make all the difference.

 

MOTM Everyone else will give it to Bale. But for some world class keeping in the second half, and making sure we didn’t lose 6-2, i’ll give it to Jussi Jaaskelainen

 

Can you see me ?
Can you see me ?

Viva Bobby Moore !

Aston Villa vs WHUFC 10/02/2013 EPL


Last week, WHU breathed some life back into a season that was heading southwards at an alarming rate, and they come to Villa today hoping to push into the top half of the table and almost  guaranteed safety. If im honest i expected a re run of the win earlier in the season

WHU have replaced their wingers Vaz Te and Jarvis with Nolan (!) and Joe Cole. Pogatetz came in at the back ultimately replacing Demel. No surprises that Carroll keeps his place up top. But this looks more of a 4-3-3 formation rather than a 4-5-1.

Gabby Agbonlahor is not in the starting line up for the Villains, so not good for them.

Villa came out all guns blazing and had Wienmann had an open goal chance put wide after 2 minutes following a shoddy rebound by Jussi.  Villa , one of the worst teams at home this season , have the best of the early exchanges, against the team that have the worst away record in all the English professional leagues.

West Ham took some big bangs in the first half hour with a saving tackle from Joey O’Brien ending in another early finish for JOB and Guy Demel coming on in his place. The impressive Tomkins also got a kick in the face from Delph.  It was very accidental, and more of a result of putting his body on the line.

Aside a few half chances, the first half came to an end at 0-0, which was fair.  I would say WHU moved the ball around better, but Villa were more direct in the attack.

In what has become Villa’s trademark this season, WHU started the second half way on top. But the Villa defence held on, and the WHU attack didn’t make the pressure tell by way of shots, which is a tad worrying. Corner after corner with nothing to show is not good form Sam ! By the way, your 4-4-2, looks worrying like 4-5-1.

Just after the hour mark, on comes the former WHU transfer target Darren Bent. Bit of a worry for me, if im honest. And after being on for at least 2 minutes, he clears an Andy Carroll goal off the line following a corner from Taylor ! Then RVT comes on for Taylor.

Nathan Baker picked up a silly card just before 70 mins, for taking out JC who was rampaging down the right,. The resulting free kick from JC was put over by Nolan. Villa sent straight up the other end, and N’zogbia was fouled by Noble and Villa get a penalty. Benteke took the pen very cooly into the bottom right. One nil Villa. Sam makes an unusual change by putting on CC for Noble !

CC had a chance almost immediately, but got it caught in his feet.

2 mins later, N’zogbia pops a great free kick into the top corner, to make it 2 and over as a game.

WHU throw everything at Villa in the last 10. And it pays off when a mistake in the Villa defence leads to an own goal from Westwood. Despite all this Villa hang on for a win. Not deserved, but a win anyway.  A draw would of been a more fair result.

So where does this leave WHU. Nowhere as usual. Sam needs to move on at the end of the season. I think the board have this in mind with him having no contract. Nolan could go with him as well at this stage. Nolan especially pisses me off as he has the skill to play, just decides not to bother. I imagine we also lose Carroll if BFS disappears at the end of the season.

Tomkins played well today, and hopefully has graduated back into the first team, or he will be off at the end of the season. Diame seems to be getting back to normal. CC looked lively when he came on.

MOTM for me should be Tomkins, but leaking 2 goals means he is out. I’ll give it N’Zogbia for his free kick and winning the penalty, and his constant attacking down the right flank.

Benteke casually puts away the penalty for the first goal.
Benteke casually puts away the penalty for the first goal.

WHUFC vs Swansea City 02/02/2013 EPL


There are many sayings in Football, and one that I have heard on many occasions, and much to my annoyance normally rings true is that “West Ham always come down with the Christmas decorations”. Our last win up to yesterday was on the opening day of the year against Norwich. Since then we have exited the FA Cup and slid down the league, not so much in position but in the points gap compared to the bottom three.

If I’m honest I think that Sam has failed on 2 counts during this time. He has not drafted in the  right type of players during the transfer window. Also he has not got through his head that sometimes 2 up top will work. And by two i do not mean a striker plus Nolan, or a striker plus Vaz Te. I also notice Vaz Te is listed as a striker in the official squad list. Really? We should of packed him off to the Championship during this window. In Sams’s defence, holding onto Diame is a big deal.

Yesterdays team was interesting with Joey O’Brien moved across to right back, bringing Taylor into the left back berth. Tompkins and Reid shored up the middle. A centre mid of Diame and Noble was flanked by RVT and Jarvis, with Carroll up top supported by Nolan. Jussi as usual was in goal.

I wouldn’t normally list the team, but someone said something to me at half time that made perfect sense. No square pegs in round holes, e.g JoB on the right side, no Joe Cole and Nolan getting in each others way, and with Carroll a striker who can operate on his own.

Anyway, the game !. The Swans have been a team I have admired since they were in the championship, and probably the team i enjoy watching outside of WHU (there is one other but no way am i mentioning them here) . But yesterday they never really fired at full strength. They still moved the ball round well, but failed to get the ball to Michu. This is because WHU came at them all day, closing well, and making sure everyone did their jobs through communication. The usual gaps at the back were not there, and the midfield (Noble especially), were patient and moved the ball where it needed to go, either backwards or forwards. Carroll was as usual winning everything, and Nolan had two chances in the first half which of those at least one should of gone in, a flick on from a Jarvis cross. Tremmel in the Swans goal was on fire, and stopping everything with feet and hands.

The second half was much the same but WHU seemed to run out of ideas, so Tomkins started to hit the ball longer, And Carroll was charging around everywhere. Sam made a great change bringing on Joe Cole for Jarvis on 62. This changes the shape of the team as JC doesn’t mind cutting in either. From here on in, the Swans were really on the back foot, and the Hammers were trying to unlock a tight defence. On 77 we got our first corner of the half. I noticed Carroll was just hanging about outside the box, which was a little odd. But Noble hit a corker into the penalty box which Carroll out jumped everyone by a mile and powerfully nodded it into the bottom right. It was very similar to his goal against Sweden in the Euros. See here

The relief around the ground was amazing, and the smile on Carroll’s face was pertinent. This is a guy who wants to do well, and the injuries have been frustrating, but hopefully he’s back for the rest of the season doing the business.

The remaining 15 (felt like 50) minutes were typical WHU bad passing, panic, backs to the wall, but with Jussi making a couple of good saves, and Noble making some great interventions just to take the sting out of the move, we got it over the line. Sam saw this as well and brought on Emanuel Pogatez to make his debut in place of Nolan for the last 5. Welcome Emanuel !

In summary, we seem to have a squad capable of playing well against most of the league, but we need to ensure the right people play in the right areas. This could of been the game that keeps up WHU this season. Quote of the day, was the guy behind me comparing Diame to Yaya Toure. Nearly but not yet !

MOTM:

The plaudits will go to Andy Carroll for his goal, and work rate, but for me Mark Noble, who is not one of my favourites, was sublime yesterday. He seemed to know what to do every time he got the ball, by interception or tackle, whether it was moving it up to Nolan, along to Diame, or a long pass back to Reid. Everything was done to perfection with no fuss. Keep it up.

One nil Job done
One nil, job done. Arise Sir Andy

QPR vs WHUFC 01/10/2012 EPL


Who would of thought it? The R’s and the Hammers in the EPL !

After the humiliation against Wigan, Sam brought out the big gins for the visit to Loftus Road. Cole up top, Carroll on the bench, Diame reinstalled in the middle, and unsurprisingly no Tompkins in the back four. No point embarrassing yourself on the Telly.

Ex Hammer Zamora started for the R’s unlike the shafted Rob Green.

For two teams that play football, the game started quite ugly, and turned into a head tennis match. After 3 minutes RVT fot the ball on right, got through a challenge, and put a cross in for Nolan. Big Kev made a mess of the shot, straight onto Jarvis’ head, and into the net. Cheers, 0-1 to the Hammers.

After that, the next 15 were end to end with no end ! WHU seemed to be quite “agricultural” in the tackle, and luckily Mark Clattenburg was light on the yellows.  On 19 minutes QPR had a free kick that put some panic into the West Ham box, and ended up with Jussi sparking out Winston Reid. Having had a concussion last season, and the fact he wasn’t moving a lot, they were a little concerned, and they subbed him off for Tompkins. Winston left on his feet, which hopefully is good news.

Once again CC seems to be getting penalised for no reason. Maybe Sam needs to have a chat with the refs, a la Mr Rogers at Liverpool. Noble seemed more settled, must be his new wallet balancing him out.

On 33 Joey O’Brien went off with an injury for McCartney. So, with about half an hour gone, we are two defenders down. What to do, eh? How about a goalmouth scramble, an excellent cross from Tompks, and a smart finish from Ricardo Vaz Te, for his first of the season. Happy birthday RVT!

With 5 to go, from a QPR free kick, Cisse gets a nice volley in only for Jussi to push over the bar. This was the first time he had really been called into action in the half. The weight he seems to have lost since he signed for WHU helped him him get up to it, I’m sure!

After 5 minutes of extra time, WHU go into the break 2 up, in a game that was really even to be fair. WHU pushed a little more and were harder in the tackle.

The second half started in West Ham’s favour, with Diame forcing a save from Cesar, and QPR seemingly all over the place.

After 55 minutes Mark highes made a double sub and brought on Adel Taarabt, who waited 70 seconds before rifling in a screamer into the top right hand corner. 1-2 to the Irons. Then the game livened up as you would expect, and WHU started to look concerned., picking up needless yellows, and running balls out for no reason. Jussi made a brilliant save  from Granero, only then to get booked for time wasting.

On 67 Carlton Cole missed a stone wall sitter by putting wide, after Nolan picked up a loose pass, and put him through perfectly. Definitely a man not in form.His reward was also a yellow, along with Kevin Nolan who did no more than question the ref (this is the job of the captain, isn’t it ?). With the game going against us bit by bit (another save by Jussi, after a good long range shot by Cisse), BFS played the trump card and brought on Andy Carroll  in lieu of CC for the last 20. The big question now was “Is he fit ?”. With 15 to go, Diakite (a second half sub) got his second yellow, and the R’s were down to 10. Once again the pendulum swung the way of WHU. QPR were tired and this didn’t help. Carroll made a nice knock down to RVT, whose strike pulled a fantastic tip on to the bar from Cesar. With 2 to go, Jussi made another good save from Zamora, to keep WHU ahead.

The extra time went up as 6 minutes, real Fergie time stuff, and QPR seemed back in the ascendancy. Howlett forced another Jussi save from distance. James Tompkins made it 8 yellows for West Ham. Just before the end, Carroll took a ball down, turned and got  a shot off, and was unlucky to get a rebound. That was about the end of the match, and WHU recorded their first away win of the season, and went 7th in the league.

Not a lot to winge about tonight, but once again selection is odd. O’Brien in front of George Mac. Really ? Training must show things i’ve never seen. Noble seemed more content, with Nolan ,and Diame, moving well around him.

While we are blowing smoke up ourselves, lets stay grounded. We seem to play well against teams at our level, but we will struggle against anyone who wants to pass and move quickly (as proved by Taarabt). Cisse and Bobby Z were never going to set fire to the grass tonight. I said earlier in the season 10 points before Arsenal would do us well. We have 11, and our real season starts on Saturday. We might need to watch the discipline as well, with 8 yellow cards !

What was encouraging is that we seem to be getting more shots off, because we are playing further up the pitch. Andy Carroll’s return was unexpected and welcome.

The crowd must get a mention. Its so good to hear on old school London derby crowd, with both sides going for it.

MOTM: Noble played well, AC looked the part when he came on, but Jussi Jaaskelainen kept WHU in the game.  Much to Rob Green’s disappointment, I’m sure.

England – The Group Stages – Euro 2012


Over the last week and a half, the strangest thing has been happening. England are in a competitive football competition, and our press are behaving for a change. But today, they broke ranks, and we have loads of nonsense about “Rooney the Saviour”. Lets not forget the only reason he has been out for two games is the fact that he let is petulant behaviour take over on the pitch, a bit like his fellow scouser, one Mr Barton (incidentally, one of the greatest and worst twitter users in history).

I have started this article prior to the Ukraine game, and will publish afterwards.

So first up was the big game, and the old rivalry was renewed with our mates from just past dover, the French. This game was a good test of new manager Roy’s skills, and to be fair he came out well. Nice and compact, not to adventurous, and a defender comes up to nod one in. Then old England raised it head, and the panic set in. Within a few minutes it was one all, and we then shut up shop. I’ll take a point in our first game (Spain did !).

Lescott opens the scoring in the England France game

Onto the next game, and a battle with a team who we had never beaten in a competitive game, Sweden. I watched the Swedes earlier in the year at Wembley, and they weren’t all that. Once again England went ahead, after a towering header from Andy Carroll, and this time they held firm. The second half was just crazy, with neither team really having a record for attacking football, turning into a mid 90’s Man United (evening Col !). They both got two, and the game ended 3-2 for Roy.  I say Roy as he made the sub to change it all, the forgotten boy of the last world cup squad, one Theo Walcott. He was on for about 4 mins when he equalised from 25 yards, he then proceded to cut Sweden apart, and provided the run through and cross for Danny Wellbeck’s winner.

Carroll opens his account against Sweden

Now what happens? We need a draw to go through, and apparently Rooney has to start? I sugget Young gets dropped as he was useless in the last game. I would keep Milner on for this game ,as Ukraine like to attack the flanks. Walcott needs to come on in the second half as a sub, and we will win 2-0 (Wellbeck, Rooney).

What really happened was the following: Ashley Young was given a stay of execution and the only change was Carroll out for Rooney. England started quietly and remained that way for most of the first half. Ukraine had the best chances, but Rooney missed a sitter to go one up. England started the second half organised as well, and Gerrard was magnificent with a range of passing not seen since his heyday. Then after a deflected cross from Gerrard, who springs up? Mr Rooney, back post, one nil.

Then the retribution for Germany in the World Cup. Ukraine had a ball clearly over the line that the linesman, who was about 5 yards away, missed !! Laughable. Thanks for the extra officials, Sepp and Michel !

Drama over, England hold on to one nil ,and set up a meeting with Italy in the Quarters.

One thing i did notice was that Roy seems to have drilled the centre backs to drop in behind Hart if there is a remote issue, and this definitely saved us once, and maybe more with some half chances in the first half for the Ukrainians. Ashley Young really needs to be dropped, if we are to improve. JT needs to drop a yard, as his lack of pace is being exploited.

We will need to be more expansive against Italy, but they won’t exactly be charging us down either. Another one nil will do me !

ROOOOOOOONEY !!!