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England – Italy World Cup 2014 1st round

June 15, 2014 Leave a comment

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And so, the World Cup comes round, but this time with a difference. The usual jingoism and self believe that usually hits the UK media every 4 years has been very subdued this year. For good reason as well, as although England qualified for Brazil 2014 with only a small wobble near the end, they haven’t exactly been tearing up trees with their performances since their exit to Italy in Euro 2012. I have witnessed first hand more than a few of those games and have reported on them here and via Twitter. Underwhelming just about sums it up.

So the nation expect little and we lose our first game out in the WC, 2-1 to Italy. About right i hear you say. STOP. Last night was about the best England performance I have seen since Rooney hit the big tournaments in 2004. The mix of youth and experience was right and England played some good attacking football but just lacked that killer instinct to make the last pass or take an extra touch.

I think England can come out of the group in second place (I have thought that since the draw), and then it’s anyones game.

How can we make this team better ? First off, and this is a simple football tactic that most managers seem to struggle with. Play your best players in their best positions. Rooney on the left? really ? Yes he made a great cross for Sturridge, and he says he will play anywhere for England, but it is a waste. The manager obviously fancies Sturridge and was vindicated, but he now has to be brave. Either 2 up top or drop Rooney for a real winger. With two up top, there would be no room for Wellbeck, but Sterling can sit in a real no 10 position and Wilshere can come into midfield, and needs to push further up and let Gerrard sort out the defensive part. Wellbeck has proved he is an impact player for United so no worries on that score, and it allows us to mix it up , up top. Rooney is already looking uncomfortable and if he is to play, he needs to be doing his business right up top.

We also need to pass a little more.We have the players, we just need to be sure in the technique. And that involves Roy and his team employing a little discipline into these lads. Easily done. Watch the Germans, and repeat.

Lastly on the team front. Ross Barkley? I just don’t get it. I’m sure he will get better, but he just seems to lose the ball all the time. Pointless to me why he is even there. James Milner would be better. There, I’ve said it ! Talking of Everton players, his teammate Mr Baines found out last night how Ashley Cole got 100 caps. He was not consistent, and got lost in allowing the cross in for the Azzurri’s winner. You could argue that Gerrard had a penalty shout, but that was that and the Italians are half way booked into the next round.

That said, I believe this new look England will gel in time, just not this competition. Sterling was sublime, and Sturridge always look lively, and surprise of the night for me was Jordan Henderson starting to look like his price tag.

 

England MOTM: Raheem Sterling. All day long. The boy is scared of no one.

 

 

 

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England vs Montenegro – WC 2014 Qualifier

October 13, 2013 Leave a comment

After an unbeaten qualifying campaign and littered with too many draws, Roy Hodgson’s England need to win their remaining two games to secure qualification to next years World Cup. Both are at home, and the right results are possible, but first up were Montenegro, who England have had four previous tussles, all ending in a point a piece.

The weather was shocking and travel was not much better with an hour delay at Ebbsfleet. The tube trip went a little old skool when a north south divide looked to kick off on a packed train.

So a lot later than expected we took our seats and i was quite pleased to see Hodgson had picked a remarkably attacking formation with Rooney, Wellbeck and Sturridge all starting. Also starting was Tottenham’s current flavour of the month, Andros Townsend in front of his team mate Kyle Walker. Joe hart was in goal following the worst run of his career, cementing the manager’s faith in his no.1.

The initial play was pretty cagey with England getting the odd chance and as usual at Wembley this set the tone for the rest of the half. Just before half time, England had their best chance when Wellbeck tried his usual reverse back heel to no effect. He needs to cut that out of his game.

The second half started better with Rooney getting on the end of a Wellbeck shot that deflected into his path. England pushed on post this and got their second when a Wellbeck shot was deflected towards goal from its initial route by a defender to register an OG. OG is actually the 3rd highest scorer for England these days, just 2 goals behind Gary Lineker! England looked comfortable and the subs started with Lamps coming off for Carrick. Then the away team scored and you could feel the tension. We knew the Ukraine had already beaten Poland, and so another draw would not be enough. The clouds dispersed when debutant Townsend smashed in a cracking low 20 yarder to open his account. This ended the game as a contest and the icing on the cake was when Sturridge won and scored a penalty just after the 90.

The scoreline did not reflect the game, and England will need to step up in the middle of the park next year in Brazil if present. However the bold attacking formation was a massive positive as was the selection of Townsend (if only because Walcott and Lennon are injured). Let keep that up for Poland, and moving forwards as a more pressing team. This should not remove Ricky Lambert and Andy Carroll from the frame though, as sometime you really do need just to lump it.

MOTM : Townsend. Looked completely comfortable on this stage. Tore up the wing like he did last week against WHU (thought i wouldn’t mention it? LOL).

England vs Ireland 29/5/2013

May 30, 2013 Leave a comment

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ENG – ROI

The season ended 2 weeks ago, since then we have had 3 Play Off finals and a Champions League final at Wembley. Last night hosted the last game of the season at FA HQ, a friendly for England against Ireland. Interestingly enough, i was present at the last time England played Ireland at Wembley 22 years ago ! Doubly interesting, apparently i pushed past Louis from One Direction as we made our way up to our concourse.

Roy picked a strong enough team, led out by our current petulant footballer of the month, Mr Ashley Cole, celebrating his first home game since he broke the 100 cap barrier. No Stevie in the middle, replaced by Carrick and Sturridge came in for the benched Wellbeck.

The atmosphere was several times better than usual, as the FA relaxed their ticketing policy and allowed 26,000 of Irelands finest in the see the game. This makes a game feel like a real game and should be applauded. Apparently the same will be done for the Scotland game later in the year. This is great news but should be tempered against the possibility of trouble, more of that later.

Ireland went for it from the beginning, and England tried to contain , with Rooney busting himself but getting little support. The Irish support smelt blood and willed their team on with louder and louder choruses of the Fields of Athenry. They were rewarded after 13 minutes when Shane Long beat both central defenders to the jump and dropped the header into the far corner beating Joe Hart all up. As part of the jubilation, this happened.

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Flares are back in fashion.

I can imagine if it had come from the home stand, the press would have a different take on the “exuberance”. Anyway, England woke up and started to support the front 2, and payed that off when 10 minutes later Sturridge made a great run and pass that ended with Lampard getting his 29th England goal. Can Frank get another 20, in the 3/4 years he has left. Why not ?

At half time as these things do, it all goes wrong. 3 subs for England (4 if you include Sturridge limping off after the equalizer). Fair play to Trappatoni, who made a sub every 10 minutes just to annoy everyone. Crap 2nd half. So 1-1, same as it ever is with ENG-ROI.

Nobody learned anything tonight, and neither will they in Brazil. Absolute waste of time.

Having met superstars on the way there, life was slightly different on the way back. First off, i met West Ham Glen on Wembley way. WHG is a mate of mine but more importantly Aussie John who I have covered around these parts previously. I asked him where John was (they are massive England buddies). He has no idea as AJ had left some time before.

Anyway, i get on the tube. As usual, its packed and we head off to Kings X. 10 minutes in I get a slap around the head. I spin around and am met with a giggling Aussie John. We also met someone I knew on the Fast Track back to Kent.

One Direction bloke 1

MrBen09 3

And that ladies and gents, was the better game tonight.

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Well held Sir

On a more serious note before i leave, myself and John were discussing how many away fans were in with the home crowd. Now this shouldn’t be an issue, but sadly it is. I saw no problems, but John saw a few in his area. On his way out he bumped into a senior England FA security bod. When asked what they were doing about it, he said and i quote “nothing to do with me !” What sort of answer is that ? Its everything to do with you, and that sort of behaviour will come to bite them on the arse when Scotland roll into town. I hope I’m wrong but experience tells otherwise. But hey, why work when you can blame everyone else.

Liverpool vs WHUFC EPL 07/04/2013

April 7, 2013 Leave a comment

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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.