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A game England could do without?

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Dan Roan | 08:41 UK time, Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Copenhagen

This may be Denmark v England but the underlying theme of this friendly is most certainly Club v Country.

With a game Fabio Capello dare not lose, the key qualifier against Wales in the cauldron of Cardiff looming into view and England desperately in need of confidence after a deflating draw against Montenegro and an insipid defeat by France in the last two matches of last year, this mid-season foray to Copenhagen does genuinely matter.

As Capello says, this is an "important moment" for England. Jack Wilshere, 19, will make his full debut for the national side and, from this point on, will be the focal point for the team, along with Liverpool's 22-year-old forward Andy Carroll, who is currently injured.

Nor should England take Denmark lightly. The last time they turned up here, manager Sven-Goran Eriksson made the usual changes at half-time and his team were subsequently hammered 4-1.

England's squad has been hit by withdrawals. Photo - Getty

The Danes are dangerous, full of familiar faces intent on making a point, and defeat would merely confirm the prevailing view that a full seven months on from Bloemfontein, England are still struggling to shake off their World Cup hangover, and move forward.

And yet despite the 2,500 away fans expected in the imposing Parken Stadium, there is a sense that this is a game that England could simply do without.

Maybe it is the number of late withdrawals, leaving Capello with a barely fit Frank Lampard as his third-choice captain, Fulham's rarely-used David Stockdale as his deputy goalkeeper and little-known Kyle Walker as the country's understudy at right-back. Not only that, the Italian has also been forced to send for Carlton Cole from bottom of the table West Ham.

Stuart Pearce has had it even worse. The England Under-21 manager had to cope with 11 withdrawals ahead of the 1-0 defeat by Italy on Tuesday night, leaving him to bemoan the scheduling of club matches.

In the senior ranks, players like Lampard, John Terry and Glen Johnson had one day to recover from Sunday's Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool, followed by one day of training with England before the match on Wednesday night. How can new teams be moulded and systems established with just one day of proper preparation? Capello must despair.

Perhaps instead, it was simply the number of goals scored in the Premier League last weekend, which only served to reinforce the prevailing view that club not country is now king when it comes to players' priorities.

World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst this week questioned whether wearing the three lions matters as much to players now as it once did - and he is almost certainly right to do so.

But with Champions League matches around the corner, title races to be won and relegation battles to be fought, is it any surprise that an international against Denmark, with no points at stake, is seen by some as, well, pointless?

At Anfield, they have not forgotten when Steven Gerrard got injured late in the game on England duty against France despite a loose agreement he would be substituted earlier.

Capello was branded "amateurish, incompetent and disgraceful" by the club's fitness instructor for having the audacity to ask his stand-in skipper to stay on the pitch for longer than an hour. And that was England v France at Wembley. Hurst must listen and struggle to take it all in.


Capello has likened Wilshere (centre) to Franco Baresi, Paulo Maldini and Raul

While England left their Hertfordshire base and flew to Copenhagen, in Westminster, the former Football Association chairman Lord Triesman sat in front of a Parliamentary inquiry into football governance and accused the Premier League clubs of being too powerful.

As he did so, in Geneva, the European Club Association (the lobby group for the continent's most powerful clubs), met and issued a stark warning that the international football calendar was already too busy and that players should be released for no more than one tournament per year.

It means the likes of Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott and Wilshere could have to choose between representing England at the European Championships (if England qualify) or the once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing for a Great Britain side at the London Olympics.

It could become a huge dilemma but clubs pay players millions of pounds a year and can hardly be blamed for wanting to protect their prized assets.

It is against this backdrop that Capello must somehow operate in Copenhagen. Rather than a sense of excitement about whether the post-South Africa talents of Joe Hart, Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Ashley Young and Darren Bent can gel, or whether revenge can be gained against Denmark for the debacle of 2005, instead this game will be played amid a debate over whether such meaningless friendlies are still appropriate at all.

Amid talk of the slow death of the international fixture. Amid FA fears that another Premier League club might be alienated over the injury of a player. Amid a much greater sense of excitement at the best weekend of club football for years and some truly mouth-watering Champions League fixtures next week. David Bernstein, in Copenhagen on his first official trip as the FA's new chairman, would be forgiven for wondering why he bothered.

Capello and his captain said all the right things at their pre-match news conferences. There was no doubting the pride with which Lampard will wear the armband. As he counts down the days on his torturous England tenure, Capello once again wearily moaned about the lack of a winter break and the small pool of English Premier League players he has to pick from, although he generally toed the line.

The players did still care, he insisted. The clubs did still co-operate, he promised. The withdrawals were genuine injuries, he sighed. But at the same time the manager is a realist. He must try to keep the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Sir Alex Ferguson, Carlo Ancelotti and Arsene Wenger sweet. A full six substitutes will be used, he confirmed. Box ticked.

This may be first opportunity of the year to lay down a marker, with an exciting new young player anchoring the midfield and a proud new captain giving his all. It may be played after a new spirit of co-operation between the FA and Premier League was announced over the issue of youth development.

The game will be watched by the FA's new head of elite development, Gareth Southgate, whose job is to smooth relationships with the clubs over the release of players. But the recurring theme of balancing the interests of club and country resonates louder than ever.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    No doubt about it. The England set up needs a big shake up. These friendlies are ridiculous...what is the point in playing a game where half the squad pulls out before hand? The only thing that a game like this could do is help a team gel and to try out new things, something which clearly doesn't happen with half a squad.

    also, Andy Carroll is so over rated that to suggest that he is in the same talent bracket as Wilshere is a disgrace. And..post south africa talents such as luke young? Presumably you mean Ashley, Dan. Even then hes now 25 and becoming stale at Villa. He hasnt produced at international level and is over halfway through his career!

  • Comment number 2.

    This has been happening for years, club has been a priority over country in England at least since Euro 96. The international and domestic calendars need a shake-up in general - as was being discussed on 5 Live last night, it would be much more beneficial to have 2 or 3 larger windows in the season (say October and February?) where the international teams could get together for a fortnight or so, play 2 or 3 games and actually have a chance to gel, without causing regular interruptions to the domestic season. We need a winter break as well, or at least stop December and January from being so overcrowded. If the League Cup and FA Cup replays have to be wiped out for the benefit of the England national team, then so be it. But that won't happen because the clubs would lose out on a few extra million pounds to pay their overvalued players, and the clubs have all the power, and would kick up a big bloody fuss as they always do.

  • Comment number 3.

    I've always been a big supporter of the England team as well as a Spurs fan, but after the disasterous World Cup and Capello's awful last year in charge due to poor team selections, bizarre tactics and changes, incoherent and illogical interviews, bizarre and desperate recalls, and the fact that i've no faith that he's genuine in his 'youth movement', I've really lost a lot of interest in England - in fact it's probably the least interest I've ever had and that's from someone who witnessed Taylor and Keegan.

    The scheduling for these internationals is bizarre. Why now?? What is the point in the players going away for what just 3 days for a match with nothing at stake whilst they have important matches either side of? I know friendlys should be seen as important for preparing for the important qualifiers, but it's quite obvious the majority of players don't agree, what with all of these withdraws (expecting 95% of them to be back at the weekend), and the way that the captaincy has gone to Lampard due to pullouts - it's almost like he was too late in sending his withdrawl excuse in.

  • Comment number 4.

    Any England player choosing the Olympics over the Euro's should be consigned to the scrap heap - noone cares about Team GB.

    As for building the team around Wilshere, well the role that Capello seems to have him done for suggests that another creative talent is about to be wasted on the national team. Carroll has to prove a whole lot more before anything is built around him, and even then I'm not sure we should go back down the route of building a team around a big target man. We have to go with 3 midfielders, time and again it's been shown that 4-4-2 is exposed at international level, and this formation would give Wilshere a proper chance to shine.

  • Comment number 5.

    All the withdrawals show how much Englishmen love their country, and thus why they do so badly in major tournaments (ie they can't be bothered). I bet there won't be any Italians or Germans pulling out of tonights friendly - and that's why those two nations have won 7 world cups between them and England have won just 1 (45 years ago).

  • Comment number 6.

    Luke Young retired from international duty in November 2009, I think Ben Hutton is right in his assumption that Dan means Luke's team mate Ashley..

    We can't complain about the players not having enough time to gel and concurrently state that there is too much international football. In the next 18 months, Capello has the chance to initiate a period of transition, to one where young talent is recognised and bedded in. The talent may not be abundant, but he has nothing to lose by bringing through 5-6 of the under21 set up in time for euro 2012. He is unlikely to achieve personal success as an international coach, or be fondly remembered by England fans - but if a new generation can be ushered in, he will be rightly recognised.

    Also..

    "Perhaps instead, it was simply the number of goals scored in the Premier League last weekend, which only served to reinforce the prevailing view that club not country is now king when it comes to players' priorities"

    I don't understand how lots of goals exemplifies the importance of their clubs to players.

  • Comment number 7.

    I can't say I know many fans that really care about international football anymore, even during the actual tournaments. The standard of the last few World Cup's has been utter garbage and the England team has become something of a joke. All that a lot of fans hope for from an England game nowadays is that none of their players get injured and miss club games, the result is irrelevant.

  • Comment number 8.

    I havent seen England play confidently and assurtivley for a long long time. We saw at the WC that the best teams play with 5 in the middle yet Cappello ceases to impliment it. This games (ridiculously placed in the football calander) should be used to get the team into this kind of groove. We have fantastic young talents in the form of Wilshire, Walcott and Carrol (on his day) and we need to start building our squard around these players rather then clinging onto your Carton Coles, Stewart Downings and James Milner's. These players are simply not good enough to compete at this level. Stick Carroll upfront, get Rooney to drop back to a more attacking midfielder role to cause mayhem in the gap between DM and CB. Have Walcott and Ashley Young terrorise the full backs with Gerrard and Wilshire spraying balls all ove the park with Gareth Barry hanging back and keeping things under control.

    On a side note i think it should be compulsory to sing the national anthem, act like this is the greatest day of your life every time you step on to the pitch.

    Muttley

  • Comment number 9.

    The cauldron of Cardiff?? Did I actually just read that?

  • Comment number 10.

    Although friendlies aren't the most exciting games ever, try are important for the side, especially in this timely transition. Half of Spain's side that won the world cup played together week in week out at Barca and the other half at Madrid. England were disjointed and played like strangers at the world cup, so finding and sticking with a consistent approach will be a step in the right direction.

    I think Capello is right to rebuild his side around the outrageously gifted Wilshere, a player with the technique, vision and passing ability that England have lacked for a while. Whether he can fill the defensive midfield berth and whether he can resist the urge England players get to crumble in international tournaments is another thing entirely.

    I predict a 2-0 win for England, with Bent and Lampard on the scoresheet.

    http://www.inofftheghost.com

  • Comment number 11.

    Though I will always support my national side, these friendlies and a lot of qualifiers are poorly placed.

    As a spurs fan I was infuriated when we lost 2 key players at the very start of the season because of international duty! Losing your captain and top scorer for 3 months is a complete nightmare! Defoe, who was in formidable form before injury, is a ghost on the pitch now and doesn't even know what the back of the net looks like. I cannot blame clubs from withholding players who are tired or have a slight niggle. There are places in European cups and even the premiership riding on the fitness of these key players.

  • Comment number 12.

    @5. don't forget France who face Brazil this evening. They will be absolutely 'up' for the encounter, Laurent Blanc having advanced the French cause since his appointment far beyond any comparable England progress.

    The only positive is for Wilshire. Can't say I love him - I'm a United fan after all. But credit where credit is due. I hope he has a good game, does his country proud and doesn't get injured.

    God forbid that we lose this one.

  • Comment number 13.

    Unfortunately in my humble opinion I think there are very deep rooted problems with English international football, and we will simply never be able to overcome these.

    From a players priority position, too many of our young players are given too much money too early, and are far too pampered by their clubs/agents. When you look at a South American footballing country for example, you will usually see a squad of players whose ultimate priority is playing for their country, and you can see the pride and passion in their display. In England, players do want to play for their country, but their priority lies with the club who treat them like gods and give them massive sums of cash.

    From a footballing perspective, we also place too much emphasis on physical play, with dangerous tackles applauded if there is any intent to win the ball. When that transfers to International Football, refs immediately clamp down, leaving England players unable to play the game as they do week in week out.

    From a fans point of view, I seem to be in a minority of people who would still choose England over my club any day of the week. There seems to have been a shift whereby most fans care more for their club than their country. With massive pressure from fans, the Premier League would have to bow to common sense and reduce the number of fixtures to allow for International Football, but that pressure will not be forthcoming as fans don't care enough.

  • Comment number 14.

    'with Gareth Barry hanging back and keeping things under control. '

    Just no. He has been found out numerous times at this level, and should be nowhere near the squad, never mind the pitch.

    Oh for a fit Owen Hargreaves.....

  • Comment number 15.

    Please dont ever mention Gareth Barry and England in the same sentance ever again! as much pace as a snail and and the turning ability of a 10 tone truck!

  • Comment number 16.

    Common theme across a couple of blogs running at the moment. Basically too many meaningless games being played to (in theory) put bottoms on seats and pay sporting administrators bills and feed the all powerful media coverage.

    While the quality of the faire will be undermined by the lack of a genuine reason for the game and the need to keep everyone happy and limit star players pitch time and numerous substitutions.

    Leaving me to wonder why anyone in their right mind by a ticket?

  • Comment number 17.

    What really needs to happen hopefully with this new government inquiry is a radical shake up!

    Firstly all friendlies should be scrapped! They have been shown to be a complete waste of time, I would rather have the squad get together a few times a year do some light training and just bond.

    Secondaly, The FA and Premier League must come together and reach an agreement that would see the Premier Lwague reduced to 18 teams and have the League Cup semi-final played over 1 leg at a neutral venue and scrap FA Cup replays.

    Finally, There should be a 2 week break from football in the middle of January, to allow players a chance to recharge their bodies before the gruelling end of season campaign.

    Only with these changes will we see England compete again at International football!

  • Comment number 18.

    2 Points:

    1. I don't understand why so many people think it is ridiculous to play an international match now - maybe they think club football is more important than international football. Also if you don't play international matches regularly then how are the fringe team players going to get a chance to showcase their talents on the international stage. If players can't play 2 matches a week then there is something wrong with their fitness. The same people complaining now will no doubt complain just as much when their international team fail to do well in a major tournament.

    2. International matches should be seen as the pinnacle and should be put ahead of the club every time. It is clear that the majority of UK players do not value their international caps very highly as there are far too many withdrawals. I think they should be barred from playing for their club team in the next match if they pull out of an international match without agreement from the international team medics - maybe then the players might think more about playing for their country. The clubs should not be able to dictate to the international teams.

  • Comment number 19.

    Capello has earned £4 million pounds since the Germany humiliation, he still requires the aid of a translator and he is still hopelessly unfit for the job. England are still TRIPE and no amount of Hype or PR can disquise that. As things are, we may not even qualify for the next World Cup.

  • Comment number 20.

    @19. I'm afraid I agree Completely. :-(

  • Comment number 21.

    To be honest I can't wait for after Euro 2012 when this joke of a manager finally leaves England. He doesn't know who to pick and somehow Barry makes it into the team every time despite his shocking performances in the World Cup and in the Euro 2012 qualifying.

    Dreadful tactics, it is like watching paint dry with passing round the defense for 10 minutes before losing the ball. We still play 4-4-2, we sit back when we have such attacking players. Capello should have resigned after the World Cup.

  • Comment number 22.

    One letter can solve the whole problem in my opinion - B.

    Bring back B internationals in England. Worked in Scotland where players who wouldn't normally get a game for the national side got a try out at that level. However, there is nothing to stop you from using first team players also if their clubs 'allow'.

    People may point to the fact that the clubs who own the B international players will still not be happy about the extra 'friendly' game but there are the following benefits -

    - Players less likely to withdraw as this equates to a bigger opportunity for them to impress
    - Less games for the really top players meaning they are fitter for tournament play, etc.
    - Garners more support from the bigger clubs as they are less likely to lose their top stars to injury, etc.
    - Allows different tactical ploys to be tested in a relatively risk-free environment - is losing a B International that big a deal?

    The down sides? Well, you won't learn too much about how new or younger players gel with the rest of the team if you play a vastly different squad. But as mentioned previously, you could still pick a largely first team squad if you so desired.

    The down side which means this theory will never happen, surprise surprise, is cash. Labelling a friendly fixture 'B' will knock at least 25% off the attendance if not significantly more and the FA would never go for that as it means obviosuly less income for them.

    My answer to that would be a streamlining of the FA, and then use some of the ridiculous sums of money the EPL generates to subsidise the FA, money which would also be used for youth development, coach training, etc. However, that is getting off topic and to be frank, into dreamland.

  • Comment number 23.

    What a joke this game is. in fact what a joke the english national team is. barely anyone cares anymore as has been pointed out here. the team that will play tonight will bear no resemblence to capello's 1st XI so any notion of it being useful preparation for qualifiers is nonsensical.

    We have in England the best league in the world, that is unquestionable. that is also at the expense of the english national team. the FA are so incompetent in practically everything they do, that will not change. Even the players don't care about playing for england anymore, so why would the fans.

    We should be grateful for the premier league and accept that we have a 2nd tier national team that will never be competitve in tournament football. not because of a lack of quality, but because of fixture congestion and scheduling, and an increasing lack of interest in international football.

    Roll on the weekend and the return of club football.

  • Comment number 24.

    It's not surprising so many players are pulling out after what happened to Gerrard.

    As for Lampard as captain??!

    Just extraordinary. This is a guy who is probably the worst England player ever (although Barry is catching him fast) and he's graced with the honour of captain. Says everything about the condition of the team.

    But that's Capello - no vision, no balance, no respect, and no idea.

  • Comment number 25.

    As for Wilshere - as an Arsenal player I have no doubt he is highly talented, but do we really want to introduce Arsenal's disgraceful ethics into our set up?

  • Comment number 26.

    It's interesting you referred to Sven's tenure in the article, as i think Capello's woeful reign is in many ways comparable to Sven's.

    Can someone also please explain exactly why Gareth Barry continue's to be rewarded with a call-up despite horrendous performances in an England shirt? We clearly have not learnt a thing from South Africa. I dont think i've ever seen a footballer move so slow and that includes sunday league, it is completely counter to how the successful teams are playing in world football.

  • Comment number 27.

    At the world cup, something changed in me. Now, for a while I've kept up with what's happening with Werder Bremen, my 2nd club, but now, tonight, I'm gonna be finding a stream and watching the Italy-Germany friendly - and cheering on the Germans.

    Traitor, you may say, and you might be right. But I respect and admire how the Germans play football - they largely played fairly and respectfully at the world cup, with a refreshing lack of diving and gamesmanship compared to most other teams, and their style of football was excellent. They have a team of young players who geniunely want to play for the shirt, and consider it a great honour to do so. They are, in essence, everything that our national team are not.

    The Premier League is such a monster monolith that such irrelevancies as internationals can be done away with, which is completly wrong. Yes, clubs are important, but whatever happened to representing your country being the absolute pinnicle of a player's career? Im not demanding everyone act like the North Korean player whom burst into tears when singing his national anthem at the WC against Brazil, but still, I find it hard to believe that anyone in the current England team particularly cares about internationals. And its easy to see why:

    1. Ridiculous scheduling. Lets just cram a random game into a week with important games either side of it, giving the coach the best part of 1-2 days to organise a squad. Champions League, the pinniacle of the club game, will be affected by players getting injured in a random friendly placed at a stupid point on the calender. I agree with the above - reschedule to allow 2-week international breaks minimum, to allow international teams to play 2-3 games, giving them a chance to have a run and get a cohesive gameplan together.

    2. Englands own farcical performances recently, that need no introduction.

    3. Constant reliance on the 'golden generation' meaning that young players dont often feel they are getting the chance, and when they do, theyre stuck in the wrong position and told to play a game unnatural to them lest it affects the game of one of the old guard.

    4. Lack of young players coming through. I'm beginning to wonder if a team featuring some Championship talent wouldn't be such a bad idea - yes, the quality would be lower, but because theyd be playing with more hunger and passion mostly, the performance would still be pretty decent, I'd feel. Or perhaps, simply blood young players in the internationals - if theyre not getting game time for their clubs, give them game time for England.

    5. The power of the big clubs, and this is the biggie. We're getting to a stage now that teams like a spoilt brat not letting anyone play with their football..."oh okay, you can have it, but only for an hour, and it can't be punctured otherwise your buying me a new one". The liverpool attack on the management was totally farcical and stupid, but the fact that it was expected and even accepted shows just how down the pecking order international football has fallen.

    6. Big clubs fans. They buy into this mentality and say "who cares about England anyway, my team are top of the league, in yer face" and take a tribal stance. They prioritise their own position over the position of a nation, which is understandable to a degree due to, as i said, the rubbishness of England in recent years, but at the same time, the fact that these fans celebrate big money foreign transfers to their clubs, not bothering to think for the fact that there's yet another young English/British talent left to rot in the reserves, tells you where their priorites lie. Obviously this isn't a sweeping statement to ALL Fans of top premier league clubs, it would be ridiculous to suggest that, and I know a lot of people still care about England, but it's a trend I've seen developing.

    Sorry if this is a bit rambling, this is all on the fly to a degree. I may have exaggerated certain points a bit, but still, these are my thoughts on the matter. Until England actually decides that internationals should be the pride of anyone's career and we stop the ridiculous spate of pull-outs (oh gaff I twisted my thumb) and actually play like we mean it and actually care, I'll be off over there with a German flag.

  • Comment number 28.

    I wonder if Steve Gerrard will be fit for Liverpools game at the weekend. If I were a betting man I'd be prepared to wager money that he is.

  • Comment number 29.

    Whatever people's opinion about Capello are (and I still can't work out if he is the most overated manager in the world or just unlucky), this problem will never go away because of one little word.....MONEY !!

    The teams in the CL and Premiership will never want to release their players in case they get injured or are tired and jaded because they won't a) challenge for the title or CL football, b) be fit enough to try and stave off relegation or c)just finish one place higher than last year. Why? because money money money affects all of these and managers/clubs have no loyalty to the National team.


    Can anyone remember the summer of 96? How we all felt when Shearer and Sherringham knocked in those goals against Holland or when Southgate miss the spot kick ? That was excitement, that was passion.........not watching some insipid draw in Russia between Man U and Chelsea.

    We must encourage National football, it unites us all and gives the country a feel good(bad) factor that Liverpool's 2005 CL win could never give. Capello/Venables/Eriksson.......insert any names, but nothing will change while the CL machine rolls on

    (And I am a Spurs fan who have been brilliant in the CL this year, so hopefully do have some perspective)

  • Comment number 30.

    agreed 24.

    these so called "golden genration" players havent and will never do
    anything for England - why stick with em?
    Crapello is clearly senile, and hasnt got a clue what he is doing anymore.
    as if Fat Frank is goin to do anything!
    seems like everything you DONT want crapello to do, he does!

  • Comment number 31.

    Certainly a few things need to change.

    I'd start with why do we persist in calling international games like this 'friendlies'. This instantly gives the impression there is nothing to play for. In every other sport an international is competitive, important and ultimately the chance to represent your country. Only English football see's it as a training session..

    Also the FA needs to man up and tell Club managers to keep their noses out of the international setup. If Alex Ferguson wants to determine how long Rooney plays in an international, then he should apply for the England managers post next week. Capello has no reason to answer to club managers, or to keep them sweet.

    A player should negotiate agreement to play for their country with their clubs as part of their contract. If the club refuses then the players commitment is questioned, and we'll see who is passionate about England and who isn't.. I'd rather have 11 League 1 players busting a gut for England than 11 Prima Donna's worrying about their next club game. It's not as if the current stock is going to win anything..



  • Comment number 32.

    23. matty408 - it's because of the premier league that the national team is so bad. So long as the best 6-8 clubs' youth academies keep getting filled with lads who may become 'nationalised' but will never pull on the jersey for England, things will never change.

    And while the financial penalties for dropping out of the EPL are so extrordinarily vast, no team outside the top 6-8 sides can risk playing youngsters for fear of relegation. Progression and development for players in England is strangling the national side. Alternatives must be agreed. Why buy the best talent in the country at 16 and then barely let them play a game until they are perceived to be ready for first team EPL football?

    Don't kid yourself. People would care about the national side if it were moderately successful. It's only because it is so poor in quality compared with the top sides like Spain that people are 'deciding' that the EPL is all that they need.

    Your country is your country is your country. In my opinion, they should be the games that mean the most to everyone.

  • Comment number 33.

    dogeared -

    Your posts show a level of ineptitude that is staggering even for here, which is an achievement of sorts I guess.

    The problem is, we don't have a vision of what we want the team to be. Who are we building this team around? How do we want the team to play? The article captures this perfectly - "Jack Wilshere, ... will be the focal point for the team, along with Liverpool's 22-year-old forward Andy Carroll". I'm sorry but I see a lack of clear thinking in that. How are we going to build a team to best utilise Wilshere's talents he develops at Arsenal if we're also trying to build it around a big unproven target man? Where's the logic in that?

    I can see Wilshere being another skillful England play who isn't used properly and ends up being the focus of criticism for not influencing games, much like Rooney has ended up. Stick Carroll up front and Barry and Gerrard will revert to the long balls that have meant half our creative talent has been negated for the past year.

  • Comment number 34.


    23. At 11:46am on 09 Feb 2011, matty408 wrote:

    "We have in England the best league in the world, that is unquestionable."


    It is unquestionable that you haven't.



  • Comment number 35.

    Big clubs fans. They buy into this mentality and say "who cares about England anyway, my team are top of the league, in yer face" and take a tribal stance. They prioritise their own position over the position of a nation, which is understandable to a degree due to, as i said, the rubbishness of England in recent years, but at the same time, the fact that these fans celebrate big money foreign transfers to their clubs, not bothering to think for the fact that there's yet another young English/British talent left to rot in the reserves, tells you where their priorites lie.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    For a lot of United fans that I know anyway, the apathy towards the England team started with the ridiculous booing of United players whilst playing for England, despite them being some of the best players in the team. I would say that shows a lot of England fans can't leave their club allegiances aside when watching the national team, not just fans of big clubs.

  • Comment number 36.

    Capello should no longer pick players from the Premier League, and although it reduces the number of top quality players in the England team, they would probably still do will since they wouldn't be prima donna's. After a while the english premier league players would be complaining to their manager that they want to play for england and manager's would have to relent...its not the players who don't want to play for england, its the clubs who pay their wages who don't want them injured...

  • Comment number 37.

    why is this even news?international football is finished,its boring and is no where near the pinnacle of the game anymore,i have refused to watch england since the world cup,there is no point,do any of you hardcore england fans really believe we will win the euros or even go there and be an entertaining team that plays good football,if you do then you are wasting your time,i hope the day comes when wembley is nearly empty because no one will be interested in meaningless freindlys between two poor sides,and by the way why is cappello still manager?he did a shocking job at the world cup,people dont waste your time/money/anything on england,the players even know it,they would much rather play any champs lge knock out tie then play a major tournment during there summer holidays!

  • Comment number 38.

    @dogeared - agree 100%, God forbid we should play a midfielder who actually has a high level of technical ability! After all, how often have we seen that teams with a high techinical ability fail at major championships!

    Out with Wilshere, in with Carrick!

  • Comment number 39.

    Gav, exactly the point i was making. The premier league (and the money it generates) is now king in english football. Unless the FA mans up and confronts this, the english team will never improve as priorities lie with the clubs. this will not happen.

    we have to accept that we are 2nd rate at best on the international scene and unless radical changes are made to the structure of domestic football this will only get worse. The number of games we play, and with no winter break, is ridiculous. all players from the premier league, whatever nationality turned up for last years world cup injured, tired or completely burnt out. i cannot think of 1 premier league player who performed with distinction in the whole tournament.

    I say again, this will not change because the FA is unable and /or unwilling to challenge the status quo. this ongoing review will obviously achieve nothing.

  • Comment number 40.

    Wilshere? Being compared to Maldini, Baresi & Raul?

    I agree with Graham Taylor

    "Let's give him a few games and then let's get talking about him instead of building him up into such a player before he's completed one international game."


  • Comment number 41.

    Dan

    I think the blog seems to trot out the same tired issues whilst ignoring the principals behind the issues or suggesting any solutions.

    For example, should Capello keep top managers happy? No, I don't see why he should. He should play a straight bat and use his authority as an international manager and the rules at his disposal. If he wanted to play Gerrard for the full 90 minutes last time out, who is Liverpool's physio to say what he did?

    Winter break? There is a case for slightly rescheduling games throughout the season to ease the load over Christmas but the same number of games must still be played in the same length of season so surely any benefits are negligible and just move the issue of fixture crowding to another part of the season?

    I note from the review of the last game against Denmark in 2005 how few changes there are in personnel which is probably worthy of some comment but you have ignored it!

    Also, so what is Carlton Cole is picked and it happens that his team are in the lower reaches of the league. Look at the top teams and you will see that the striking positions are largely taken up by foreign players. Live with it, cause I just can't see the problem. This is perhaps just a timing thing anyway with Carroll injured. And I don't see anything wrong with playing Darren Bent. Frankly, he has had so few chances come his way despite being relatively prolific in the league that he might be forgiven for having a complex on the issue.

    I shall look forward to the game tomorrow and I look forward to England's future with optimism but I think we should not spend too much time naval gazing, should accept what we have and learn to live with it.

  • Comment number 42.

    We all follow United:

    True. England is where such tribalism should be put aside, and players and fans unite for a greater cause. And maybe I was being facetious when saying big club fans only - it can happen through any club in the PL, I feel. But you're dead right with that point. Why go to the game if you're just gonna boo any player who doesn't happen to play for your precious club? Silly.

  • Comment number 43.

    Luke Young?

    :|

  • Comment number 44.

    42. At 12:11pm on 09 Feb 2011, Adam WBF wrote:
    We all follow United:

    True. England is where such tribalism should be put aside, and players and fans unite for a greater cause. And maybe I was being facetious when saying big club fans only - it can happen through any club in the PL, I feel. But you're dead right with that point. Why go to the game if you're just gonna boo any player who doesn't happen to play for your precious club? Silly.

    =======================================================

    Even more silly.. Why pay £50/60/70 to go and boo your own team?

  • Comment number 45.

    A great article - can I suggest one small amendment to the title?
    A Manager England could do without?
    There you go - problem solved!

  • Comment number 46.

    Nothing new here. International friendlies have been a waste of time and poor entertainment for years. They should be scrapped. For that matter, international football in general is in decline - the quality of the last couple of world cups has been well below expectation.

    While I'm being negative I'll add that the recent record goal tally in the Premier league (leading to much "best league in the world" talk from the media) was a freak - far too many low quality, low entertainment games in the PL these days too.

    I guess I'm just falling out of love with football. I'll get my coat.

  • Comment number 47.

    I totally agree with the idea of fewer but longer international breaks. Scrap the August, September and November ones and play 4/5 games in a 3 week window in October. Scrap the February, March, April ones which would allow the season to finish sooner and play another 3/4 in late May/early June. Continuity for the national teams - job done.

    I don't see the point in playing an away friendly against a team like Denmark - it's not like we're playing any Scandanavian teams in qualifying. We'd be better off joining this Carling Nations cup as at least there'd be some interest in it for the fans or playing the better Euro nations at home to test ourselves.

    Capello seems to always give the latest press sensation a call up but fail to thoroughly integrate youth. Where on earth is Stephen Kelly? For someone to go straight into the Liverpool team and play well he should be integrated when Johnson has been consistently poor defensively. He's also yet to find a proper midfield anchor for us and it's concerning he's talking about putting Wilshire in there when he should be the playmaker we've been crying out for since Scholes was forced out wide to get Lampard in even though he's never delivered his club form for England (which isn't his fault, it's our lack of Essien/Makelele/Drogba players).

  • Comment number 48.

    A large part of the problem lies with the media and fans (based on the underlying and pretty much watertight assumption that their opinions are interchangable and mutually influential).

    The same fans/papers whinging one week about Capello's insistence on using 'the old guard', are the same who will react with outrage the next week, when Capello tries out inexperienced players and loses a match. How on earth are the young players supposed to develop if they don't make the mistakes from which they can learn? Losing matches is an inevitable - even valuable - part of a player's learning process. Yet if Capello DARED to keep the same lineup after losing a single match, there would be an outcry.

    The problem here, of course, is that the England team don't play together enough to maximise the potential translate these experiences into improvement, a fact not helped by Capello's insistence on handing debuts to the likes of Bothroyd and Davies, at the ages of 28 and 32(?) respectively, and then never picking them again.

    We see Capello week in week out on MOTD, visiting grounds and watching players. He must have a pretty good idea in his head of how good the English players are. Surely what he needs to do is pick a stable of, say, 22 players, with a healthy combination of youth and experience, and restrict himself to selecting from these players up to and including Euro 2012, barring serious injury. During this time, if he does restrict himself to these players, there will surely be enough games for him to settle on his best XI and ideal substitutes bench?


    Oh, and all the FA needs to do is scrap the Carling Cup and replace it with either home nations friendlies or England training sessions.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    ''Stick Carroll upfront, get Rooney to drop back to a more attacking midfielder role to cause mayhem in the gap between DM and CB. Have Walcott and Ashley Young terrorise the full backs with Gerrard and Wilshire spraying balls all ove the park with Gareth Barry hanging back and keeping things under control. ''

    aside from still including barry, you've pick 7. which only leaves 3 defenders, unless you plan to play rush goalie.

  • Comment number 51.

    48.

    "all the FA needs to do is scrap the Carling Cup and replace it with either home nations friendlies or England training sessions"

    Best idea Ive seen in ages. The only thing taken less seriously than England Friendlies is the Carling Cup, I really dont see why we need 2 domestic cups. Maybe it would also recapture come of the magic of the FA Cup with only 1 major domestic cup to focus on...

  • Comment number 52.

    Can someone tell me when is a good time to play international friendlies. It's never a good time and managers or players are always complaining. Maybe the whole thing should be scrapped.

  • Comment number 53.

    These games should be used to give players a chance at international level.

    We have a pretty good squad of players, but they don't seem to gel under Capello and there are too many egos, tonights game needs to feature some young talent.

    I'd like to see a future team playing 4-3-3 made up of: Joe Hart, Martin Kelly, Gary Cahill, Rio Ferdinand, Asley Cole, Scott Parker, Steven Gerrard, Luke Wilshere, Wayne Rooney, Andy Carrol, Theo Walcott

    We need to be able to change things up against teams and 4-3-3 gives us more flexibility to become defensive or offensive. We also have the option of Peter Crouch, Aaron Lennon and Ashley young after 60 mins to stretch teams and play two big men in the box. Not many International teams like playing against that, particularly when they are already tired.

    Come on Capello, bring some continetal flair to the team and have England's up and at them mentallity as plan B.

  • Comment number 54.

    48 kanchelskis_legend

    Good post. Of course the current top dogs are Spain and we know that most of their top players all play at Barcelona either by accident or by design.

    That level of continuity is probably the exception rather than the rule though because the other recent top nations such as France, Germany, Italy and Brazil (by way of examples but let's not forget Holland, Portugal and Argentina) have their players playing at a variety of clubs and they still seem to have a team that works at international level.

    I think we should all try and ignore the sniping that seems to go with the England team. If you don't like England and don't want to support them, then don't bother. If you are behind them and want them to do well, let's stick together and give them some support. Treat England like you would your club i.e. stick with it through thick and thin. One day, hopefully, our support will be repaid.

    Capello was meant to be the man with thick skin and his own idea's but the way he has retreated/backed down on issues during his tenure suggests he isn't quite what we all wanted him to be. A shame.

  • Comment number 55.

    50. At 12:32pm on 09 Feb 2011, downingforengland wrote:
    ''Stick Carroll upfront, get Rooney to drop back to a more attacking midfielder role to cause mayhem in the gap between DM and CB. Have Walcott and Ashley Young terrorise the full backs with Gerrard and Wilshire spraying balls all ove the park with Gareth Barry hanging back and keeping things under control. ''

    aside from still including barry, you've pick 7. which only leaves 3 defenders, unless you plan to play rush goalie.
    -----------------------------------

    Also, it's this obsession with Gerrard etc "spraying balls all over the park" that has had a major impact on our ability to win games.

  • Comment number 56.

    Dan Roan, request from me. Can your team do some analysis into how many friendlies Stephen Gerrard has been 'injured' for but played for Liverpool in their next game. I counted 8 over the past few years, and he's the captain! He'd not even be considered for the 1966 squad based on this attitude alone.

    NOTE - We have ONE CL winner in the squad tonight - Rooney.....Wilshere the new Walcott? Walcott is fragile, has never won a medal, inconsistent and not even a regular in the Arsenal team who are our 3rd best team in the premier league.....Lampard is not world class but love the fact he is willing to show some pride and despite his own injuries embraces the captaincy

  • Comment number 57.

    That level of continuity is probably the exception rather than the rule though because the other recent top nations such as France, Germany, Italy and Brazil (by way of examples but let's not forget Holland, Portugal and Argentina) have their players playing at a variety of clubs and they still seem to have a team that works at international level.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Those countries have players that are technically sound though, we don't. We have a lot of good players when played exactly how they want to be. Once they may have to adjust their game slightly to suit the England team, it all goes wrong.

  • Comment number 58.

    If Gareth Barry plays it will show that Capello has learned nothing. Diabolical player.

  • Comment number 59.

    @34 - I agree, the Premier League is undoubtedly not the best league in the world. How anyone can look beyond the German model - clubs making profit, cheap tickets for fans, great atmospheres - all the while producing players of the Ozil/Lahm/Muller calibre is beyond me.

    This game will probably lead to more questions than answers, when systems don't work, players play badly, players don't gel etc.

    Nothing to gain, something to lose = 'A Game England Could Do Without' indeed!

  • Comment number 60.

    Agree with Frodo on that, the likes of Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard consistently waste possession with their ridiculous 60yard crossfield passes. They rarely come off, and more often than not leave us exposed to counters when the player(s) they were trying to reach are taken out of the game by the opposition's interception.

    Would also say that 4-4-2 or 4-2-4 is essentially the same as 4-2-3-1 and 4-5-1. Just you have players dropping back or moving in a more fluid manner. The problem we have as a nation is not our capability on the ball, it's our mentality off it. No football is incapable of passing the ball comfortably under 20 yards - that's all Spain do. The difference is, that all of their forwards and midfielders are constantly on the move, looking for space. It's all about movement at the top level, and all too often you see English forwards and midfielders completely static in big games.

  • Comment number 61.

    The Carling Cup is an excellent competition that gives Football League clubs an important revenue stream by providing matches against Premier League Opposition.

    As for clubs not taking it seriously teh fact that the last 6 winners have been Manchester United (3 times), Chelsea and Tottenham prove that teams do take it seriously

    There is a place for friendlies but the international calendar needs to be managed a bit better

  • Comment number 62.

    @ 26:

    ‎'It's interesting you referred to Sven's tenure in the article, as I think Capello's woeful reign is in many ways comparable to Sven's.'

    If only... if only. If Capello's reign were comparable to Sven's, it would be half decent - Sven, who carried an over-rated set of players to three quarter-finals (2002: lost to the winners, 2004: lost to the finalists, 2006: lost to fourth-place due to Wayne Rooney's crass stupidity).

    Maybe as a Welshman (albeit the open-minded, less nationalistic kind) I'm more inclined to give Sven the benefit of the doubt, but it's bloody unfair to compare Capello to Sven.

  • Comment number 63.

    47 Bellion-Wonderland

    He's also yet to find a proper midfield anchor for us and it's concerning he's talking about putting Wilshire in there when he should be the playmaker we've been crying out for since Scholes was forced out wide to get Lampard in even though he's never delivered his club form for England (which isn't his fault, it's our lack of Essien/Makelele/Drogba players).
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    It's this sort of nonsense that can stop the discussion getting anywhere.

    Lampard was playing better than Scholes in 2004. Therefore, Lampard was put in the middle where he did very well indeed for England in the period 2003 to 2006. Something that was recognised by England fans hence Lampard being voted England's best player. Twice.

    Scholes could have dug in but he chose to retire.

    Lampard has played consistently well throughout his time at Chelsea. part of that is because of the players he plays with. This is because they work as a TEAM. It becomes more than the sum of it's parts.

    There have been times when Barry has been used as the midfield foil and this has worked. This has not worked all the time and other options should have been tried by Capello (Parker?) but it is what it is and Capello can't magic up a Makelele type player if England just doesn't have one.

    Capello, in my opinion, has made mistakes but at the same time, he can only work with the tools available.

    Rather than STILL going on about Scholes, perhaps you could spend a moment to suggest how Wilshere's talents can be best used in the midfield.

    Me? I'm inclined to think that McEachran (looking at the review's of his performance last night ) and Wilshere seem to be the future of the middle.

    For now, we have to work with who is fit and available.

  • Comment number 64.

    @Frodo_MUFC

    lol, you bit nicely on that one ;o) But also maybe you live in some kind of fantasy land where all the England players are gifted technical passers.

    But that's just a distraction from the real issue, which is the poor management by Capello.

    Never mind the theories, what we need is some decent leadership.

    Just look at the turn around at Liverpool with a manager that inspires confidence.

  • Comment number 65.

    I agree with you @5 when you said "All the withdrawals show how much Englishmen love their country, and thus why they do so badly in major tournaments (ie they can't be bothered). I bet there won't be any Italians or Germans pulling out of tonights friendly - and that's why those two nations have won 7 world cups between them and England have won just 1 (45 years ago)."

    No group of people I have ever met are better at deflecting blame from themselves than the English. It is always someone else's fault, they are never wrong, will never admit they are simply not good enough, will never attribute praise where it is due unfortunately they tend to over-praise the ordinary. The blame always lies elsewhere - sometimes it is Capello, sometimes it is FIFA and sometimes it is the referee. The aforementioned are the ones responsible for all the misplaced passes, failure to properly close down the opposition and inability to convert chances.

    Since losing the bid to host the 2006 world cup to Germany, they still cannot understand what it is they are doing wrong. 2 votes! One of which was an English vote - does that not speak loud and clear? You cannot approach the rest of the world arrogantly and expect them to vote for you!

  • Comment number 66.

    I can understand the position of England fans who worry about the conflict between club and country.They are involved in a debate between teams that they rationally relate to.In Africa and Nigeria in particular where Premiership and UEFA Champioship football have taken over the interests and loyalties of football fans, National teams and internationals are viewed as irritating aberrations by most fans.They support clubs in London Manchester Liverpool Spain and Italy; clubs in places they have never been to or will ever visit. They show lukewarm interests in the national teams only when the European season is over.FIFA must be very concerned about the erosion of interest in internationals in developing nations. Perhaps, the world of football should consider setting aside a month -JULY- for playing internationals at the end of the regular season.

  • Comment number 67.

    Martin Kelly, Wilshere, Joe Hart, Carroll, Kevin Davies: to name a few of this seasons ridiculously overrated or majorly unproven players whilst of course with bags of potential who would be 8 years away from being ready allowed to play for Spain or Brazil.

    Take Arteta, Cantona, Ginola, all recent players who never got a serious sniff for their Euro or World Cup winning nation. They would have walked into the England squad of their time. We even tried to get Mikel a passport last season!!! Embaressing and I thats coming from an Evertonion.

  • Comment number 68.

    Instead of having them play a separate friendly, why not let the U21 team play against another country's first team and lets see what they have got and what we've got to look forward to. I won't say its a no pressure situation but it will be as close as they're going to get...
    I bet some of the younger lads can show the current England first team a thing or two and it might brighten things up with a bit of competition for a place - we should play 11 Jack Wilsheres and Jordan Hendersons and tell the likes of Lampard et al that they are the ones that need to prove their worth to the England team... that might even go some way to dispelling the notion that some of the so called 'stars' of English football dont have passion to play for England....
    I think the comment made by the Danish coach about playing with hunger is absolutely spot on - and maybe we should take these opportunities to let some of the younger lads show us the hunger they've got. I dont think it would be quite as disappointing to see England lose or draw if we saw a team that played with some spirit and fight, and we really don't always see that when the 'stars' play.

  • Comment number 69.

    Probably another meaningless fixture, but can be turned around if Capello used it give more of the youngsters a run out (surely, it can't be that detrimental to England's future chances if they lose tonight?) and change his cautious tactics by asking his players to throw a bit more caution to the wind.

    I would like to see Wilshire being the dominant midfielder with Lampard on the bench if needed. And, happy to see Barry not figure at all.

    I think that players like Carlton Cole might benefit more from an England team that presses for the win from the start rather than an England team who play not to lose (but probably will anyway).

    For too many years England managers have tried to build a team based on not losing games, when they may be more productive if the mind set could change to one where the players are given the free rein to look for the win.

  • Comment number 70.

    Its hard when trying to work out whether to lay off someone or not about their talent.

    We built up Walcott to much but we did the same to Rooney and Owen when they first emerged and they thrived (remember Owen v Argentina in 98?).

  • Comment number 71.

    57 We all follow United

    You will see though that I was responding to Kanchelskis_Legend who I think was alluding to continuity and working together more being valuable.

    From your comments, it would seem that we might get somewhere if we work together more and/or have technically better players.

    I'm often at a loss to understand quite what people mean by technically better players since I note that out players can do the basic's, albeit ball retention is an issue.

    Even it is right that we need better technique, that is something that seems to be unlikely to happen overnight and since the calendar to enable the players to play together probably won't change anytime soon either, it seems we're doomed for now at least!

  • Comment number 72.

    Personally i think that it is a perfect chance to give younger players experience, to bed them in and get them used to the rediculous expectations and critisism of the average England fan.

    It's a friendly! Who cares about the result! Lets take a look at the individual performances and see how we might be able to give England something that they are missing. Tell me one player who is consistant for England apart from Ashley Cole. Friendlys are an important ingreedient to getting that consistansy.

    The midia and comments like the ones on this article are what spoils English football. Half of you lot have probably never played the game at any decent level and talk tripe!

  • Comment number 73.

    No Gerrard! Great news. England tend to play better without him.

    And if Wilshere is playing alongside Lampard in midfield then hopefully that means no Gareth Barry too? Barry was a revelation under McClaren but has performed steadily worse under Capello and in South Africa showed that he is too slow and cumbersome for international football.

    And a word on Lampard's Captaincy. In short, deserved.

  • Comment number 74.

    Thanks for your responses and just to let you know it was a subbing error - not Dan's fault - as to why Luke Young was mentioned instead of Ashley Young. It has been corrected.

  • Comment number 75.

    if club is more important than country how are we ever going to improve our national team? so what if players haven't trained much before turning up for international duty - all the other teams cope!!

    we need this friendly to build our national team, and get the squad meeting and playing together.

    no question that the game matters from the danish camp. why should we be any different?

  • Comment number 76.

    I'm not sure that England players can do the basics. Time and time again we see 'lesser' teams retain the ball at the back and in midfield with one touch triangles. England try it, and inevitably the ball bounces off someone's shin to the opposition thereby instilling doubt in that England player who when asked to do the same again invariably resorts to 'clearing his lines' with a hopeful punt upfield.

    Having played at amateur level on boggy, bumpy mud heaps, I'm constantly amazed that English based players struggle to control the ball on billiard table smooth surfaces and struggle even further to give a pass to feet over anything longer than 5 yards. Maybe that's the answer, create an unlevel playing field by going back to turning Wembley into Hackney Marshes.

  • Comment number 77.

    Ever since JT didn't turn up to the crucial Euro 2008 qualifier v Croatia and played either side of it for chelsea, the players have consistenly shown they no longer care about non-finals tournament england games.

    There is so much club money at stake who can blame them? Gerrard needed an operation so we took it at international weekend to help Liverpool.

    The FA don't help by arranging several silly games for political reasons. England will always be disapaged by FIFA and other organisations.

    My solution would be to join the Carling Nations Tournament. Without England it is doomed to be low interest and lacking in more than a few quality players.

    If it could be beefed up into a 5 nations, and England friendlies reduced it could give us much needed practice and passion. A final should be played between the top two sides rotating in venue around London, Cardiff, Dublin and Glasgow.(Belfast to miss out until a new stadium is built). I would expect plenty of sell outs and plenty of pay tv interest, especially if top players were guaranteed.

    It could be cemented by taking ticket money and the increased tv rights away from the FAs and handed out to players as prize money. A certain number of Nations Cup caps would be a minimum for inclusion in Euro and WC squads, with appropiate dispensation for serious injury where club games were missed. Niggling injuries would not count.

    This would provide games interesting to the people, games that motiviate the players, games with little travel time to annoy the premierleague clubs and the home FAs with a near monopoly over one of the world's most supported and valuable franchises - England.

    Any future england involvement outside the home nations could then be after any UEFA/FIFA promises are honoured not before.

    Sure there would be opposition from the clubs - but a reduction in the friendly calendar and short travel times would be broadly acceptable to players and clubs. Imposing ground rules as above would force them into line.

    Detractors would argue we would be playing in too British a style. This is not neccessarily a bad thing. We have plenty of skill in this country, British style teams have been highly effective in europe in 1999 and 2005. England were knocked out of the world cup thanks to a team knocking the ball behind their centre backs, something a run of home nations games would help deal with.

    The competitive nature and finances would help the dire state of the celtic nations too, developing them into more than worthy opposition than the majority of friendly games England play.


  • Comment number 78.

    Gareth Southgate, whose job is to smooth relationships with the clubs over the release of players.
    -------------------------------------

    So if defoe and Crouch get injured on international duty, Southgate is going to make it all ok again, even though that would leave spurs with only Pav as a fit striker... and Harry does not like Pav... I'm not sure if he even likes southgate. :-S

  • Comment number 79.

    @27. Switching to Werder Bremen and thence to Germany. I'm not knocking but can you genuinely support them? I mean in your heart. I live in France and follow Brive rugby club (my nearest club). But when an English club visits..... Tonight I'll watch France v. Brasil and hope that France win. After all I'm a Francophile. But if they lose I won't be emotionally troubled. I remain English.

    With WBF then I can understand you identify with an ideal. But the switch seems very difficult at the national level.

    On a tangential point I'd like to see England internationals playing in leotards. And I'd like to see more of a concerted effort to remotivate the aesthetic appeal of the footballer's comb-over.



  • Comment number 80.

    I think people should lay off Capello - England would be poor under any manager. Its the players on the field that play the game. Not him! The plays need a mix up not him. Personally I'd like to see Bent involved and Lampard alltogether removed from the team.

    I'd quite like Ashley Cole to be given the arm band because even though he his antics off the field perceive him as not a role model his is actually the most consistant player England have had for a very long time and the other players need to learn from this!!

  • Comment number 81.

    We are the media, we will moan.

    Not long back I read a BBC blog complaining that Capello, despite his promises, had not used any new players since the world cup and that we remained largely unchanged since. Now I'm reading about a friendly being pointless because these same players have had to withdraw, even though we're now forced to use different players, which might freshen things up. We're never going to change the England team much in competetive games, so Friendlies are the best option. I would think that those who do not have a regular place in the England team/squad would be extremely motivated to do well.

    I'd also argue that Kyle Walker is not a little known player after his screamer the other weekend against Sheffield United in the Cup and also his goal against Fulham in the Premier League. Most MOTD watchers would have heard of him, most Spurs, Villa, Sheffield United, QPR and Fulham fans too, will have heard of him after either playing for, or scoring against, their club.

    Wasn't it only last summer that some experts thought Carlton Cole had a chance of making the World Cup, even though West Ham only narrowly avoided relegation??

    Too much opinion changing going on in BBC Sport for my liking and it seems blogs are written solely for the purpose of sensationalism for the sake of it.

  • Comment number 82.

    George Putty, post 76 is spot on.

    Even when England play smaller nations, such as Macedonia or Slovenia in the World Cup, they look more comfortable on the ball. Usually against such teams our greater professionalism, athleticism and experience wins through but there is always a twenty minute period (or more) where such teams pass it around us for fun. It's embarrassing to watch - as an Englishman.

    And heck when you get a team like France and in-form Nasri boss us at Wembley for 90 minutes...well, then you know how far behind we are when it comes to controlling games through technical ability. And heck, this is before we've even mentioned the 4-1 debacle against Germany!

  • Comment number 83.

    Country has always meant more to me than club. Most clubs are packed full of players from other places, does Arsenal represent North London, or Wigan or Sunderland or any club represent their city or town anymore. At last count foreigners made up about 10-12% of the population, you wouldn't know it to watch the Premier League.
    We need to dump the League Cup to the lower divisions, have a ceiling on the number games British player can play, enforced breaks for recovery. The few British players in the League are overwork to keep the charade that this is a British league.
    I read some of these parochial comments by fans about their "local" club and feel pity and anger. Where is your British pride, England is what matters not some corporation looking at the bottom line, a team made up mostly of foreigners it is more akin to a circus. It's a National disgrace.

  • Comment number 84.

    I'm going to watch Lemony Snicket on BBC3

  • Comment number 85.

    Mr Chelsea

    In complete agreement with what you (and Graham Taylor) say. Jack Wilshere is just the latest in a long line of English players to be hyped up by the media before they have achieved anything of real substance in the game. There is no doubt that he has genuine talent but comparing him with greats of the game whilst he is still learning and developing as a player is, for me, putting totally unneccessary pressure on him and could be to his detriment in the long term. Whenever England struggle in major tournaments like they did last summer, fans and media tend to cast around looking for the next great hope or saviour as a means of salvaging national pride and in this case Wilshere seems to be the player that many are pinning their hopes on.

    On the point about this game coming on the back of a busy weekend schedule, isn't it the same for all countries who play friendlies. If England's players haven't had the ideal preparation for this game then neither will France's, Spain's and everybody else's for their games. In that respect surely all national teams are at the same disadvantage, so no-one is in a more beneficial position than any other.

  • Comment number 86.

    42. At 12:11pm on 09 Feb 2011, Adam WBF wrote:
    We all follow United:

    True. England is where such tribalism should be put aside, and players and fans unite for a greater cause. And maybe I was being facetious when saying big club fans only - it can happen through any club in the PL, I feel. But you're dead right with that point. Why go to the game if you're just gonna boo any player who doesn't happen to play for your precious club? Silly.

    --------

    Exactly! If I, as an Arsenal fan, had to boo all the players in the England squad who didn't play for Arsenal over the I'd have no vocal cords left :)

    As for the comment by dogear about Wilshere, I won't even dignify that with a response.

    Friendlies have never really interested me, but I wouldn't mind betting that all these posters on here who are having a go at the English national team, their lack of pride and trying etc., will be shouting their lungs out during Euro 2012 if England qualify! I honestly don't believe it was a lack of trying and commitment from the players which lead to such a disastrous WC 2010. I just cannot imagine anybody not being proud and not doing their utmost after pulling on the beautiful three lions shirt during a world cup!

    It just has to do with the fact that the players aren't good enough. They don't possess the technical ability of the Spaniards, South Americans and even the Germans, who with players like Ozil, Mueller, Kroos are producing some nifty football!

    For me personally, there's only one thing I can do and that's continue supporting my country, however crap we may be!

  • Comment number 87.

    "Perhaps instead, it was simply the number of goals scored in the Premier League last weekend, which only served to reinforce the prevailing view that club not country is now king when it comes to players' priorities"

    Not sure what the number of goals scored in the prem this week has to do with players not wanting to play for England, especially as by my reckoning only 13 goals were scored by English players and 29 scored by foreign based players.

  • Comment number 88.

    Wilshire being overhyped when he hasn't done anything of note? Well, that's always bound to happen when we can see a player who appears to have the skills and ball control that is far superior to what is already available.

    This is exactly the type of player most England fans would want to see wearing the three lions - the problem is that he needs players on a similar wavelength.

    So what does Capello do? Ask him to play in a holding role - a bit like asking Usain Bolt to run the 100 metres in flippers.

  • Comment number 89.

    Although we can criticise friendlies, remember it isn't just England that are playing, most other countries have games as well. So even if England didn't play most premiership teams would have more than half their first team away on international duty. Indeed some teams hardly have any english players anyway.

  • Comment number 90.

    Comment 42 + 86

    One final point - I agree! I personally think no player should be booed for their performance. Unless they do something seriously wrong there is simply no need for it. No player ever purposely plays bad. I think each and every player would prefer to see a 10 in the paper the next day for their performance. Every player knows that sometimes no matter how much you try it just doesnt seem to go for you sometimes. If you feel so strongly about the money you pay for your ticket maybe you should save it and watch the game at home.

  • Comment number 91.

    How many times have we been saying that the problems stem from

    a) too much clout of the PL (too much money and too many foreign players) and

    b)grass root upwards deficiencies of the coaching system.

    Remember this from a previous post I made:

    "Joystick Coaching? NO! (Leave joystick coaching to the control freaks)
    A 'joystick coach' is a term coined by Alex Kos to describe coaches who dictate and control their players' movements on the pitch, as though they were playing a real life video game called 'My Kids Team 2010!'
    Why do they do it?
    1/. The unpredictable and fluid nature of football makes it a difficult game to coach compared to, say, American football or hockey. This is especially true for coaches who ask young players to stay in positions that make no sense to them.
    Because asking players to stay in position doesn't seem to work - players wandering 'out of position' really frustrates coaches who like to see neat patterns on the football field - some coaches decide they must 'help' their players by instructing them to stay in position and lo! - another 'joystick coach' is born.
    2/. Coaches see other coaches control their players and win matches, and they feel compelled to do the same.
    3/. Parental pressure for instant results stops some coaches taking a long-term view and makes them strive for quick wins instead.
    What are the consequences?
    1/. It's not the kids' game anymore. It belongs to the coach.
    2/. Children gradually lose interest in football because they are not allowed to simply play the game to the best of their ability. Individualism and spontaneity are frowned upon and the fun soon disappears.
    3/. Young football players are not encouraged to make their own decisions. While this may stop them from making mistakes when they are learning the game, it also stops them becoming really good players in later life when the ability to make quick, correct decisions marks out the the excellent players from the average.
    What can you do about it?
    1/. Don't tell your players what to do. Instead, equip them with the skills they need to do the job and then let them get on with it in their own way.
    2/. Encourage risk taking. Is a pass across the penalty area, for example, always a mistake? Discuss the risks with your players, don't lay down the law.
    3/. In training sessions, don't tell your players to 'move there' or 'go here'. Instead, point out that whatever they are doing could be done better and help them come up with the answers themselves.
    4/. On match days stay quiet, and make sure parents/assistants don't shout instructions. Lead by example. Good behaviour, like bad behaviour, is infectious.
    Let's unplug the joystick and let the children play!
    Tony Carr, West Ham Utd FC Academy Director (for a “children in sport publication”)"

  • Comment number 92.

    Ever since JT didn't turn up to the crucial Euro 2008 qualifier v Croatia and played either side of it for chelsea, the players have consistenly shown they no longer care about non-finals tournament england games.

    There is so much club money at stake who can blame them? Gerrard needed an operation so we took it at international weekend to help Liverpool.

    The FA don't help by arranging several silly games for political reasons. England will always be disapaged by FIFA and other organisations.

    My solution would be to join the Carling Nations Tournament. Without England it is doomed to be low interest and lacking in more than a few quality players.

    If it could be beefed up into a 5 nations, and England friendlies reduced it could give us much needed practice and passion. A final should be played between the top two sides rotating in venue around London, Cardiff, Dublin and Glasgow.(Belfast to miss out until a new stadium is built). I would expect plenty of sell outs and plenty of pay tv interest, especially if top players were guaranteed.

    It could be cemented by taking ticket money and the increased tv rights away from the FAs and handed out to players as prize money. A certain number of Nations Cup caps would be a minimum for inclusion in Euro and WC squads, with appropiate dispensation for serious injury where club games were missed. Niggling injuries would not count.

    This would provide games interesting to the people, games that motiviate the players, games with little travel time to annoy the premierleague clubs and the home FAs with a near monopoly over one of the world's most supported and valuable franchises - England.

    Any future england involvement outside the home nations could then be after any UEFA/FIFA promises are honoured not before.

    Sure there would be opposition from the clubs - but a reduction in the friendly calendar and short travel times would be broadly acceptable to players and clubs. Imposing ground rules as above would force them into line.

    Detractors would argue we would be playing in too British a style. This is not neccessarily a bad thing. We have plenty of skill in this country, British style teams have been highly effective in europe in 1999 and 2005. England were knocked out of the world cup thanks to a team knocking the ball behind their centre backs, something a run of home nations games would help deal with.

    The competitive nature and finances would help the dire state of the celtic nations too, developing them into more than worthy opposition than the majority of friendly games England play.

  • Comment number 93.

    Totally agree with poster 3# comment -

    Until England can start bringing in more youth and look to build for the future, then IMO no ones really that excited in International football. Yes, as an Arsenal fan its great to see Walcott and Witshere in the side but there are still to many faces from the last world cup - Lampard as captain please, he's not even captain material for his club. Friendlies at this stage of the season are completely pointless.

  • Comment number 94.

    93 Montegooner

    Lampard as captain please, he's not even captain material for his club.
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Even though Lampard has been vice-captain to Terry, and therefore actual captain in Terry's absence, during Chelsea's most successful era, with all the big name players around?

  • Comment number 95.

    Quite a lot of muppets on here are quite happy to stick the boot into Frank Lampard getting the captaincy but mention no bloody alternatives

    So who should get it then if not Frank Lampard?

    Pick one from the list below and give me a good reason why he's better than Frank Lampard at this moment in time.

    Robert Green (West Ham), Joe Hart (Man City), David Stockdale (Fulham); Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Bolton), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Michael Dawson (Tottenham), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Joleon Lescott (Man City), John Terry (Chelsea), Kyle Walker (Aston Villa); Gareth Barry (Man City), Stewart Downing (Aston Villa), James Milner (Man City), Scott Parker (West Ham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Aston Villa); Darren Bent (Aston Villa), Carlton Cole (West Ham), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd)

  • Comment number 96.

    63 Mr Blue Burns

    I think Lampard's strength is without question the work he does in the final third of the pitch. When he's had 2 more disciplined guys behind a good strong centre forward to hold it up he's shown himself to be unplayable for years in club football. I don't think he's ever really been afforded that for England owing to the need to accomodate Gerrard (Lampard looked approaching his best for England when Gerrard went wide left) and Rooney. I will be interested to see how the Torres signing ends up effecting his attacking output in a similar vein.

    At international level I maintain that ball retention is the key and even though Scholes goal return dropped off big style for England he was one of the few players who could be relied on with the ball. Im not one who thinks he should be involved now but I think 2004 was an early retirement as these things go and that Scholes was pushed back to accomodate people who are bigger names - not just Lampard but Owen (who can't play 451), Gerrard who was never a 442 partner for Lampard and Rooney (who for whatever reason nobody seems to want to try as a lone front man for England).

    I would suggest the best role for Wilshire is as one of 2 deeper midfielders with his role to be keeping us ticking over and when possible moving play forward. Lampard is wasted doing this for England but the absence of 2 other disciplined midfielders has meant he's often had to which doesn't allow him to flourish. I've never been impressed with Barry at this level so we have a problem. I think Parker deserves a go but we need to be looking for a younger option.

    -------------Hart---------------
    Johnson----Jagielka----Terry----Cole
    -------Wilshire------Parker--------
    Walcott-----Lampard------Young
    -------------Rooney-------------

    Would be how I'd look at it for this week. Gerrard then comes in for Young when he's back. Rio for Jag and Kelly for Johnson if he stays as Liverpool's rb ahead of him.

  • Comment number 97.

    MrBlueBurns

    Yeh, the 'cultural' difference between supporting England and supporting your club is a massive one.

    Invariably, when one's club is doing badly, a fan keeps the faith, looks for the positives, continues to cheer, shows patience. Yet when your national team DARES to lose or draw a game, it's open season in terms of criticism.

    I can only really attribute this to the press, as when it comes to Ingurland, they can (purport to) share a common and passionate interest with the general populus, meaning they can simply shift more units by printing extreme opinions, which people just absorb. That this cultural shift manages to filter into the Wembley terraces, meaning that they're often silent or ringing out with boos, is a grim reflection on the power of the gutter press.

  • Comment number 98.

    Robbieo79

    Spot on. If you can cast your mind back to last year and the friendly game against Japan just prior to the world cup, then you may remember how awful England were in that game, particularly in the first half when the Japanese players totally bossed the game with fluid passing and movement and deservedly went in at half-time 1-0 up. It was only 2 second-half own goals that gave England a victory they scarcely deserved yet it makes you think that it will be only be a matter of time before even nations like Japan catch us up and maybe even overtake us in the future, especially as the prevailing culture in English football still stays stuck in the same mindset that it has done for all these years of failure and refuses to acknowledge the need for change.

  • Comment number 99.

    I'm so happy to see 5 Arsenal players dropping out of the newest round of pointless friendly games. We've been playing mid week games for the last two months and OUR players need a rest, do they can be fit for US, not England. We find them, train them and pay them. We, the club are more important. International selectors seem to think the clubs are there to serve them and provide them with players.

  • Comment number 100.

    @29 - agree...

    If Capello was not paid £6M per year would it be such a hot topic..?

    If the EPL model of global broadcasting via syndicated media rights is how we want to showcase football in England that might be fine for the supporters of top 6 EPL teams but do they constitute the majority of fans in this country..? Why doesn't someone do some proper research into club v country to identify what the majority wants?

    If a strong EPL model is truly what the majority want then perhaps the England job could be done part time by an existing EPL manager (that chap from Tottenham...?). The FA could downgrade the importance of the EPL superstars team (Eng Men Senior team) and could then concentrate on their other teams and the grassroots (where excellent work is done, but is always under the radar).

    Personally, I would like to see a better balance where there is a structured approach to the football calendar globally to allow all parties a window of opportunity and chance in the limelight.

    For example:
    - start season in Feb (Jan winter break)
    - March 2 wk window for international qualifiers/friendlies
    - April 2 wk window for international qualifiers/friendlies
    - June/July summer break (planning & periodisation in July)
    - Sept 2 wk window for international qualifiers/friendlies
    - Oct 2 wk window for international qualifiers/friendlies
    - do not play any internationals outside these times
    - Dec season end
    - Jan break (winter World Cup on the equator then more feasible...?)
    - 16 teams and 30 games for elite leagues globally to facilitate this
    - reducing game time for elite players allows Champions League, Copa Libertadores, Euros, WC, etc to be played without risking fatigue/injury
    - Result is better international tournements with motivated players
    - additional beneft is that some interest and supporter base can be shifted and focussed periodically on teams and leagues further down the structure otherwise they are going to go bust (look at the global players of each sector like youtube, facebook, amazon, etc where they have squeeezed out the competition. Do we really need to see teams like Plymouth Argyle go out of business just because of insatiable TV appetite?
    - I support England, Wolves and Stafford Rangers. Can't we all support teams across the pyramid and try to give some financial assistance where possible?

    And what will be done about this by the power brokers and senior stakeholders? Nothing due to a conflict of interest - plus ca change.

    I have never paid for sky because I don't like the power shift that enables Scudamore to do what he does. I would pay on a ppv basis to watch a televised bare knuckle fight between Dick Scud & David Bernstein however (as long as Stuart Pearce was the DB corner man....)


 

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