I could do a report on the game and who did what, and when things happened. But, as the whole world knows, England lost and their WC dream was hanging by a thread. Since then Italy have been beaten by Costa Rica, rendering that dream smashed on the dressing room floor.
So what went wrong.? This is easy. Against Italy, England attacked and looked fresh and even though they eventually lost, they made a good account of themselves. The England that turned up last Thursday, reverted to type, and were poor going forward with little transition from midfield, relying on long balls from Gerrard. Once or twice, Sterling showed his skills in the first half, but not enough for me. You could argue, that the Uruguay captain should of been dismissed for a chop at Sturridge’s neck, post a previous yellow, but he wasn’t, blah, blah. Continue reading “England vs Uruguay WC 2014 1st Round”→
The WHU Charity for ex players and teams off form was well and truly open for business yesterday. Lampard gets 2 (to end his longest run without a premier league goal) and Chelsea keep a clean sheet (their first in 6 games). Thats the game review in a nutshell. We were gutless and all over the place, and that is the key issue. So not a normal game review today, more a review of WHU.
Chelsea played really well, and made an emphatic 3-0 nil win look workmanlike. However John Terry needs to have a look at himself. Chelsea won a penalty early on, and it was a pen all day long. Demel played very poor ball back to Jussi off his thigh, when he could of just played it out or let it go to his feet and Jussi took out the oncoming Oscar. Pen all day long. Oscar though did not have the ball. John Terry then ran the whole length of the pitch to remonstrate with the ref about sending Jussi off. In a country where we pride ourselves on fair play, is a disgrace and he should know better. He already knew by then (well I did !) that Chelsea would win this game by a mile, therefore take the free goal and move on. He carried this on right up until the game restarted. Low behaviour from a player admittedly with low standards, and just uncalled for. He also went after the ref (with another 50 yard run) in the second half after a Diame challenge. To think he used to be the England captain.
Now, this booing of Lampard. It used to be fun to make him the pantomime villian when he was young, but since then he has won League titles, FA Cups and played over 100 times for his country. Lets not forget the day we were partying in the streets of London after coming 3rd in the Championship and getting up through the playoffs, he was winning the Champions League.
That lad was WHU through and through by birth and left for better things, and as the Chelsea fans sung yesterday “Frankie Lampard, he’s won more than you !” Fair play to him, and screaming at him only fires him up. Witness the celebration for scoring a penalty. Leave the guy alone and appreciate one of the best English players of the last 40 years. Where would his career had gone if he had of stayed? Same as Mark Noble’s in my opinion. For the record, before I get accused of being a Frank apologist, I also have mentioned previously the same treatment of Ryan Giggs. Oh and John Terry is fair game !
Anyway back to WHU. Shocking, plain and simple. We are staring relegation in the face and Sam has decided that petty grievances and stubbornness are the way forward. Diame should be the first name on the sheet, and it appears that some back of house shenanigans is restricting his time on the pitch. He needs to be in there to support Morrison going forward. Sam’s biggest issue is he wants 5 in the middle and have Kevin Nolan on the pitch. We have been carrying Nolan all season, and he needs a kick up the arse. OR we go 3 at the back, and drop a winger. As we have no recognised forward this shouldn’t be an issue. Forwards are another issue. Once again Sam has bought forwards and then doesn’t play them. Petric and Cole have been brought in and aren’t “match fit”. Well fucking play them in some matches then ! We are getting beat anyway, so give them some match practice. Talking of practice, Sam prides himself on his defending, but yesterday was just appalling. Demel’s contribution was mentioned earlier, but Collins was just as culpable for the second. He left his player (Oscar) to chase down another player. Ball goes to Oscar, and he scores. Like I said earlier, all over the place.
As things are going downwards towards the Championship, things need to change. Starting team should be:
Tompkins, Reid, Demel (Collins benched)
Diame, Morrison, Nolan, Noble, Downing (Cole benched, or Jarvis could come in for Nolan with a reshuffle).
Then CCole and whoever.
Or chuck Joey in the back line and leave CC (and then one day AC) up top on their own.
Once more thing before i go. If I was on the board, i would be seriously looking at whether Sam has done his best with WHU, and it’s time to move him on prior to the Jan window. Shake his hand, thanks for getting us up and staying up, but the time has come. But as usual who comes in? Di Canio, no, Holloway, probably not (too used to failure). I have heard mention of Redknapp. Never go back rules say no. Malkay Mackay looks like he might like to leave Cardiff with the employment policy issues. He knows the club as well, and seems to be a bit like a young tough manager, who wont take the shit some of our team serve up.
So not quite pressing the Sam out button, but hovering over it.
MOTM. Frank Lampard.
Diame played well when he came on , and Joey fitted back in well. Morrison showed small examples of talent.
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.
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
And that ladies and gents, was the better game tonight.
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.
Growing up as a football mad kid in the 70’s, the Brazil national team was a thing a fantasy. Pele, Rivelino, Carlos Alberto and Jairzinho were in the pantheon of world football in an age where global travel was sparse and the Internet was the property of the US military.
Yesterday, although an occasion, was England against 3 blokes from Chelsea, QPR’s keeper and the fella who scored against England last in 2002, and had just been recalled.
So the key point was, are Ramirez, Ruiz and Cesar and co up to the mark on the international stage. Before anyone thinks I’m taking the piss, i do understand that between them, there were at least 5 champions league winners in the squad, and the fella on the way back has 2 Ballon D’Ors ! Also playing was the latest wonder kid off the samba production machine, Neymar.
The England team look refreshing with Walcott allegedly starting up top with Rooney and Wellbeck. Ashley Cole made his 100th appearance which meant that with Steven Gerrard, history was being made, as the first centurions to ever play together for England. Jack Wilshere started in the middle edging out Frank Lampard.
There was a minutes silence for both Munich and Bobby Moore prior to kick off which was observed by about all but 5 imbeciles out of 87000 + people.
Once kick off got under way it was apparent that Walcott and Wellbeck were pushed out onto the wings. Talking of Wellbeck, there was one other weird stat. He had scored for England with every shot on target !
Wilshere was looking industrious from the off, but so did Brazil. The way they naturally move the ball around was great to watch but not a lot of end result. England were more direct with Wilshere tearing forward when he had the chance. On 19 mins Ronaldinho tried to cross a ball after some more 1 -2’s but the ball got as far as a jumping Wilshere, hit his arm, and a penalty was given. This was similar to the Ryan Giggs ball to hand incident here and not in my opinion a pen.
So up steps big Ron, up against someone a little more agile than Dave Seaman this time, and takes his best. Joe Hart gets down to his left and makes the save, but the ball bounces out in the path of the incoming Brazilian. Hart stops again, and then Cleverley clears the ball and was lucky not to give away another pen in the process. Great work Joe, as he adds another chapter to the CV.
This deflated the visitors a little, and England started to push on . They finally took the lead just after the half hour mark, when Wilshere (again) burst through, slid a great ball through to Walcott, whose blocked shot came all the way out to Rooney, who smashed it home. England went into the break still on top.
Half time brought the usual subs so the game should die off, but Brazil didn’t read that script, and came out all guns blazing. Within 3 minutes, due to a rare Cahill error Fred pull off a screamer to equalise and nearly did the same thing about 3 minutes later, just clipping the bar.
England dipped hugely after this, but held on. Some further subs brought on Lampard. Who slotted in the Cleverley’s position but seemed to be more natural at moving the ball about.
Walcott hit some fierce form in the middle of the half and seemed to be roasting the Brazilian left back at will. But instead of coming into the middle as he was he just hit the line and got the crosses in. Rooney went close with a header for his second, and you could sense the tide was turning. On the hour mark, following a pass back from Rooney, Lampard showed every bit of his experience to volley past Cesar, off the post, for the winner.
So to sum up, Wilshere is definitely one for the future, and just needs to learn to shoot, or at least take on the responsibility. Scott Parker has had this issue as well, and it should be easy to fix. That said he was still MOTM. Hart’s penalty save was brilliant. Rooney was swashbuckling, Lampard seems to be beginning an Indian summer of his career. I will say the jury is out on Cleverley and Wellbeck. One last thing, Glen Johnson, good as you are, you are not Roberto Carlos, get back and defend, and stop leaving your position uncovered.
After the easy win last week, this game was always going to prove a little more tricky for Roy’s boys. The close 1 nil win against the hosts of the Euros showed that the Ukraines were no push over and England would need to be on their best.
Without their Talisman, Mr Shevchenko, Ukraine started a little cagey. With our untried midfield (Gerrard and Lampard, lol) we did too. Seriously, these guys have had nearly 10 years to get it right, and just fail every time. It has to be egos, but that has no place at this level, either they were both too far forward or too far back, normally back. How we think we can punish teams at home when both our central midfielders are in our half, i really dont know.
One other surprise was Mr Cleverly at no 10. Number 10 says to me, Maradona and Cryuff (Rooney ?), not someone who hasn’t yet scored for his club. This is not his fault, but when Sturridge was on the bench does suggest some odd thinking from the manager.
Defoe had a stunner disallowed after an alleged misdemeanor, and that was about it for England’s first half, outside of Cleverly missing two sitters. The Ukrainians, although equally as drab scored a sreamer just before half time to go in 1 up, thanks to Konoplyanka.
For the second half no subs were made and England carried on as usual with no one utilising Defoe and trying to play around the back. The Ukrainians just held up and moved it on (albeit to nothing). Cleverly was finally put out of his misery on the hour mark, and some small gains were made as Wellback started to run about a bit and cause trouble. Then Sturridge replaced the Ox (who was very inefficient) , and once again England stepped up. Wellbeck had already tried to claim one penalty when he got the second, and Lamps put away his 27th goal in 93 appearances for the national side.
Then with hardly any time left England press on for victory, until Mr Gerrard capped off a poor performance with a very mistimed tackle in no mans land to get a red and seal the game at 1-1.
So the honeymoon is over for Hodgson and the real work starts. He has had a favour with Gerrard being out for at least one game as he can make a new captain, and feel easier about dropping Gerrard if he feels the need. Who’s it to be?, probably Lampard, as the best of a bad bunch. Hart seems obvious but i’m never too sure about keepers being captains, but he has done it before at U-21 level.
Rooney is needed, if fit, and Wellbeck should step up as a starter. There is still a place for Defoe, but only as part of a two up top. This leaves Tom Cleverly. Just too old for the U-21, but definitely out of his depth in this company and especially near the front of the team. Also the Ox needs to to improve after blasting onto the scene.
In short Roy needs to hand out some hairdryers and get the team focused again. I feel he has spent the summer blowing smoke up them, to encourage a team rather than building one. Thats OK for one tournament, but we now have a campaign to manage.
San Marino next. No surely not. Stranger things have happened………………………………….
England beat Moldova 5 -0 last Friday. This in itself is not a big deal (lets face it, it was against a team who didn’t even have names on their shirts, and none of those names had they had been there, were household).
England played well, and showed they had the talent to comfortably beat a weaker team. Great. There was one interesting event that seemed to be downplayed though, and that is my subject today.
Mr Steven Gerrard.
Stevie G has for the last 10 years been once of the best players in Europe, without a doubt. He scores consistently , and seems to be able to play anywhere in any system, much to the relief I imagine of his boyhood club Liverpool FC. This is a guy that single handedly (alleged) won the European Cup and FA cup for Liverpool. The FA cup win against West Ham being the only time a player for the opposition has really broke my heart, as he had no right to score “that” goal in a game we dominated. Anyway, move on.
In the lead up to the Euros, he was in and out of club and country teams with injury. In the Euros he was England’s best player, and a stand out leader. This season however, he looks a shadow of himself, and I’m wondering if we are now seeing a quick decline, a la Michael Owen, Ian Wright, etc. On Friday he came off at half time, and left Lampard on his own. A Lampard, who has won the European cup this year (as Captain), and didn’t play in the Euros through injury. Who also put his stamp all over the game, with and without the armband on.
For many years, people have said Gerrard and Lamps cannot play together. This is utter nonsense, they can, it just their egos cannot. For too many years Gerrard has been told he is better, because of his swashbuckling around in a red shirt. All those years of carrying a team are now showing, as they did last year on Jamie Carragher, and are also starting to show on Reina this year. Whereas Frank has just got on with his game of keeping Chelsea ticking along. Don’t forget, Mourinho wanted the two of them together at Chelsea, and he isn’t usually wrong.
“But Gerrard is England Captain!”, i hear you say. By default says I. Terry was too much of a liability to be captain, Ferdinand was too absent through injury, and for the Euros, so was Lampard. This left a lad who has experience of being a leader at the highest level. Not a bad shout at all. And so he played his heart out in the Euros knowing it was potentially his last chance. And now can make half a game, in a situation where he wasn’t stretched at all.
Now, Hodgson is in an situation, does he drop his captain, who in essence has done nothing wrong, for a guy who is about the same age, and the same may happen to him soon. Its a problem all round. The answer lays in the future, but there is no stand out candidate, except maybe Joe Hart, but goal keepers and armbands is a whole new debate ! I’m sure he would rather not drop him to save face with the captaincy, which has been a fiercely debated theme over the last couple of years, for one reason and another.
Watching Liverpool so far this season, its obvious that Shelby is being preferred, and Sterling and Joe Allen will soon be as well. These are average players who maybe taking over G’s place in the team. The lad is knackered, plain and simple.
So from world class to back of the class. Its a shame to see, but a reality. The key question is will he be around for the World Cup? Who knows ?
I’m off to the Ukraine game tomorrow, from which I might be able to spread some more light on the subject.