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.
Footballers are generally an organized bunch, with skills available on tap. Professional footballers are very organized and very skillful. International footballers should be highly prepared and know when to use the skills and when not.
England were always going to win this game, but outside of the Ox getting stuck in with a few long rangers, England turned into Arsenal light, and tried to pass through all the time , with flicks and tricks. This was getting on the nerve of the crowd as well as the manager, I imagine. Things were not helped by Walcott going off early, after being (from my position) royally taken out by the SM keeper. In a game against better opposition and potentially later on in the game, it would of been a straight red.
They finally broke the deadlock after half an hour, with who else but the stand in captain for the night, Mr Rooney. Soon after Danny Wellbeck scored an almost identikit goal to the reverse flick he got in the Euros. Maybe he does mean it after all !
The second half was more of the same, with England constantly attacking, and then Rooney and Wellbeck getting another one each. Rooney’s second, was a cracker taken on the half volley, which pushed him above Alan Shearer in the goal standings for England.. The San Marinians (?) attacked once, and nearly brought the house down. Oxlade-Chamberlain got an absolute quality lift on a mix up from Cleverly to put England 5 up with 10 to go.
So, what did we learn ?
Cleverly and Carrick stood in for Lampard and Gerrard tonight, and Carrick bossed the back line, with Cleverly in a more advanced position. This worked well, but they were playing a pub team to be honest. Cleverly does still not look the part at this standard. Under 21’s are gone for Tom, but maybe he will get time to improve. If Roy stays with 2 up top in Wellbeck and Rooney, and persists with Lamps and Gerrard, Tom can improve on his craft. Maybe more time on the training pitch and less time with the TOWIE girlfriend.
We also know that Joe Hart gets bored easy, if his running out 40 yards to collect balls was anything to go by. To be fair he could of played in the middle alongside Carrick, and the score would of been the same.
But, we must be more clinical, and no more dicking about with the ball. The opposition should not matter, the hole is still the goal. But we need to be more direct. Little one twos are fine on the training ground, but go nowhere against an organised defence.
Lets hope all the young kids who were there, don’t get used to England destroying teams at home !
Poland away on Tuesday. 3 points required, and I assume the return of Lamps and Gerrard. Lets just keep the ball further up the pitch.
MOTM For his runs, passing, and willingness to shoot from anywhere, and his classy goal near the end goes to Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.
Heres some pics from the night. 3GS and tier 3 do not mix well. Taking the DSLR next time.