First WHU blog of this year, as various work and personal stuff has kept me away from Upton Park for nearly 6 weeks. This post up until about 45 seconds from the end of the game was going to be based on the famous Norwegian “We beat your boys ” speech. However as we probably all know by now, Danny Blind , shinned in an equalizer in the dying seconds of the game.
Games ends one-one and 30 odd thousand WHU fans go home royally pissed.
That said Kouyate as well as scoring, played very well as a drafted in centre back. Everyone in fact played well including everyones favourite hammer, Kevin Nolan. Yep. He actually played well.
We have been talking about getting in centre backs as cover for ages, but no, we spend most of transfer deadline day pissing about lodging good strikers to buy pain in the backside strikers, and moving on wingers who have had no opportunities and then failed at all of the above. Hence today we play one of our best midfielders next to James Tomkins. And we still dont know what’s happening to Winston Reid. Well, we do but no one wants to admit it.
Our opponents today were the rejuvenated Man Utd. And to be honest they didn’t look a patch on previous teams I’ve seen over the years. Falcao will not be there next season based on his performance, not to mention missing a clear opportunity. Rooney cannot be enjoying playing the midfield with Van Persie, Falcao and Di Maria missfiring all over the place. Jones still doesn’t look good enough to lead the Man U defence and should be replaced at the earliest chance.
I’m sure in time we will respect the point, but at the moment, I feel as if we threw away 2 points. Even more annoying, is our opponents will feel they won a point. I did call a representative from Man U for a quote but unfortunately couldn’t get through so you will just have to believe me when I say they were lucky to get anything.
MOTM Kouyate, and hopefully WHU are back on the road to winning after our recent blips.
England went into this game clear leaders in this group with their opponents sitting in second place. A 3-1 win at Wembley extended the group lead to an almost unassailable 6 points, with England now 4-4 in qualification games. With that all said, England are still not operating at the top table of International Football, and and times were frustrated by a far weaker team.
Today was Rooney’s day. He was playing in his 100th game and was presented with a golden cap from Sir Bobby Charlton. This may of been through gritted teeth as I have covered on my last England visit.
England set up with some new blood at full back with Nathaniel Clyne and Kieron Gibbs, coming in for the established, Leighton Bains and Glenn Johnson. This offered some pace on the edges of the field, which was going to be needed with the pedestrian midfield of Wilshere, Henderson and Lallana playing out of position. I am getting fed up with moaning about Wilshere and how he is not a holding midfielder, but there he was again. Henderson can play that position and does every week, but he is pushed up the pitch at England level, and plays alongside his team mate Lallana. I say team mate, the guy hardly ever plays for Liverpool, and also should not currently be an England player. If you want two holders and a traditional midfielder to play off Sterling, how about Henderson, Noble and Wilshere (further forward).
This poor line up (positionally) meant England had no shots on target in the first half. Every ball forward went to Rooney, who was doing his damnest to score, at the expense of Sterling and Wellbeck. Shocking first half. The playing style was typified by a Jordan Henderson OG admittedly against the run of play in the second half. This seemed to spark England, with the reply almost instant, as Rooney got in the box and won a penalty. Personally I don’t think he was touched at all, and I had a great view. Rooney stepped up to get another goal for his tally, and England really pushed on from there. All of a sudden, the team realised Wellbeck was playing and in his usual lackadaisical style he added another 2 goals to his tally, with Sterling interchanging well with the Arsenal striker. If he keeps getting these goals, I think Rooney’s stint at the top of the scoring charts may be shorter than Sir Bobby Charlton!
Yesterday, my companions for games were the Aldershot duo of Ian and Albert. This was young Albert’s first visit to Wembley and being used to 1.5k at the Rec meant that nearly 90k in attendance was pretty awesome. I’m sure he had a great day out, and hopefully will see better performances in the future.
My MOTM was Wellbeck, and whoever voted for Wilshere, as was announced at Wembley, needs to take a long look at themselves.
One last thing, as regular readers will know. I am a recent convert to NFL, BUT the state of the pitch was shocking yesterday, covered in wrong coloured strips of grass, and the remnants of the gridiron pitch layouts and lettering. Just behind the goal was COWBOYS, and the yardage lines all up the left wing. This is our national stadium and our national game. This needs to be sorted. I’m sure it’s not to hard to use overlays for the non playing surfaces. The stud marks all up the middle didn’t look too great either, but didn’t seem to effect the roll of the ball. Click on the photos to see what I mean.
Enjoy the pics (taken with a recently acquired low end Canon DSLR).
Official flags (new UEFA logo ?)
Chaps on arrival
Slovenian fans in full flow
Come on England
The arch as usual
Rooney Penalty (expand to see the Cowboys lettering)
Not a lot to report here if I’m honest. England played the eternal minnows last night, and I was fortunate enough(!) to get a box invite, so I got myself along to Wembley to watch. First things first. England won 5-0, Joe Hart could of sat next to me, and the score would of been the same. I should know better as I went last time as well.
As I was finding my way around the corporate hospitality level of Wembley I bumped into Adrian Chiles. For those who don’t know he hosts the England games on TV on ITV. Seemed like a nice fella, and gave me the tip of 2-1 England, last minute scrappy winner. So obviously, his ill fated sojourn to breakfast telly hasn’t dulled his sense of humour. We also had a chat about West Ham, and he was enjoying it so much he missed his studio door, and wandered off with me, as he was being chased down the corridor by some TV types. If I tell you that this was the highlight of the evening, then you can guess why I’m not reporting too much on the game !
Anyway, what did we learn? Jack Wilshere. I will be honest and say , that I didn’t realise he was actually playing until about 70 mins, he was that anonymous. Whether it’s the system or him I don’t know, but he needs to be moved out of the England set up until he can prove he can operate at this level. Anyone can have the odd flash of brilliance, but to be an international you should be at that level all the time. Chambers and Gibbs kept a clean sheet, but hopefully with England way ahead in the group now, they will get a chance against Estonia / Slovenia, to see if the can compete against better international sides.
My last point is Wayne Rooney. Another win for the captain, and another goal, and maybe if England hadn’t fannied around with the ball so much, he could of got more, BUT. This puts him 7 short of all time record scorer Bobby Charlton. Maybe I’m just being just an old man, but it should be taken into consideration that Charlton was scoring in top level internationals, and not games against Italian postmen. Maybe we should initiate a FIFA style ranking system for the worth of a goal, and I’m sure Sir Robert C would be way out there with Jimmy Greaves, and everyone else way behind.
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.
So no surprises here. the game was like the weather at Upton Park today. Started bright and became dull and boring. Big Sam will complain massively about both goals, for alleged infractions. Wrong. The press will say Utd have turned the corner. Wrong. They were average at best. The press will also say Wayne Rooney scores a wonder goal. I would challenge that as well, as it was an open goal due to poor positioning of the WHU keeper, which Rooney did well to steer in from distance. His second was more luck than judgement, but you gotta be in it to win it, so fair play to him.
Why am I so down ? I’ll tell you why. We witness once of worst Man U displays ever last week, and since then both Vidic and Ferdinand are not in the starting line up as well (for differing reasons). What does Sam do? Same old bollocks of starting AC on his own, and Diame down the wing. No dynamism, no change to catch out a weak opposition, just the same old nonsense. I have had enough, and once this season is finished (about next week, assuming we win our next 2 against Hull and Sunderland), Sam needs to be moved on. Also the players Sam put out there today could not be bothered in the slightest. That alone is a disgrace. So they are comfortable with Sam and him with them. Time for a shake up. So Sam leaves and he can take his mates with him.
Who next then? Last year i wanted Gus Poyet, and would still back that up. Why not Slaven Bilic as an option? Whoever it is, I don’t think I could put up with another season of the same old thing. But i don’t make the decision, and if we do win our next 2 (and I think we will), Sam will be home and hosed, and ready for next year.
No West Ham player had a good game today, so i’ll go with Wazza for the MOTM.
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).
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 !
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.
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 !).
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.
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 !