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Capello relishes win with meaning

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Phil McNulty | 21:41 UK time, Wednesday, 9 February 2011

In the rush to condemn England's friendly in Denmark as a meaningless and unwanted interruption to an already over-crowded calendar, someone forget to tell Fabio Capello's players.

England have made a full contribution to devaluing this particular currency in the past with gratuitous gifts of caps and those nights of endless substitutions - but the encounter in Copenhagen carried genuine significance for many of Capello's undercard.

England's Italian coach will have relished the victory as preparation for a Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales in Cardiff next month that he simply cannot lose. It was also a game that effectively started one international career and revived others.

On that basis alone, those who cared to label this as a game without meaning must think again - and would certainly get an argument from Capello.

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere was Capello's vision of the future, even though the England coach's vision will not extend beyond Euro 2012. Not given to over-statement, he was happy to mention the teenager in the same breath as legends such as "Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Raul, these players started really young too. It's the talent."

Mathias Jorgensen and William Kvist Jorgensen of Denmark and England's Jack Wilshere

England coach Fabio Capello lavished praise on Arsenal's Jack Wilshere - photo: Getty.

The talent was on show in a 45-minute cameo that, while confirming Wilshere is not the defensive midfield man Capello apparently envisages and never will be, illustrated rare gifts and an immediate comfort on the England stage.

Wilshere's first start for England actually saw him over-shadowed by another teenager carrying a nation's weight of expectation, Denmark's Christian Eriksen, who will have Premier League managers forming an orderly queue outside the door at Ajax after a stunning display.

But the Arsenal midfielder can take much from his own performance, showing confidence and a full range of passing, despite playing a role unsuited to his progressive box-to-box approach.

England's exposure to Denmark's attacks and the vulnerability demonstrated when Daniel Agger found space and time to head Eriksen's wonderful cross past Joe Hart early on demonstrated a weakness that will have irked Capello.

But Aston Villa's striking duo of Darren Bent and Ashley Young not only got the goals that brought victory and will have lightened Capello's mood, they also enhanced their own England stature.

Bent's international class is still questioned in some quarters and the sceptics may point to two missed chances in the second half as evidence to support their case, but he is a striker who gets chances at any level and his conversion ratio is improving. Bent's critics can sniff as much as they like but he scores goals.

It is a talent Capello clearly appreciates. "Darren is a very clever player who gets in good positions to score," said the Italian. "He is one of our important players now."

With Liverpool new boy Andy Carroll receiving glowing references from Capello as Wayne Rooney's potential long-term partner, it did Bent no harm to underline his growing maturity with England and deliver another reminder of that natural knack to seek out chances.

Young's display hinted that he is finally ready to reignite his England career with an outstanding second half that brought the reward of the winning goal, scored with a measure of composure after fine work by Glen Johnson.

Capello gave Young a roving attacking commission and it was one he utilised well, especially in tandem with Bent. England's coach was suitably impressed. "This position is really good for Ashley Young because he's free," said the former AC Milan, Juventus, Roma and Real Madrid coach. "He causes problems when he plays in the middle of the pitch."

Young has flourished only fleetingly with England but this was a performance that offered real encouragement that he could make the leap from club to country.

Capello can take other positives too. Theo Walcott created England's equaliser for Bent at the conclusion of a long passage of possession and looked lively throughout while James Milner was also tireless.

And for Scott Parker, the man who must have wondered what he had to do to capture Capello's attention, this was the night when he may just have achieved his goal.

Parker's introduction, along with Gareth Barry, at the interval enabled England to plug the gaps so gratefully exploited by Eriksen in the first half. West Ham United's midfield man tackled with trademark tenacity and moved the ball with a pace Capello will demand from him.

Whether this is enough to convince Capello he is worthy of a place in a full-strength squad or in his team remains open to debate, but what is beyond dispute is that Parker could not have done any more to state his case.

For Capello, it creates competition within his squad and keeps complacency at bay. For this alone, the Copenhagen friendly was invaluable.

Quite what former captain John Terry made of his evening in Copenhagen is another matter. Unconvincing in defence, he was then forced to watch as the armband he once cherished so proudly was passed around at speed without the slightest indication it would ever come anywhere near him again.

When Frank Lampard went off Ashley Cole took over - and when the Chelsea left-back departed Barry was England's third captain of the evening. If ever Terry harboured any faint hope of regaining the captaincy, this was an experience to ensure he can now dismiss the notion.

Even when Capello, the man who stripped Terry of the honour, quits in 2012, there is the real possibility that the Chelsea skipper will no longer warrant a place in the team at that stage in his lengthy career.

Capello will not be giving such sides issues a thought at the end of an encounter that brought a succession of positives - and a real meaning as he shapes England's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    England really were decent tonight. No fireworks in my opinion, but we looks good going forward, and better than we have been at the back. (Especially seeing as we were without Rio Ferdinand.)

    Anyway I was pleased to see Scott Parker have a good game, Rooney looks alright too in the 45 minutes he was on the pitch. Hart made a few good saves, as well as the obvious decent games from Wilshire, Bent and Young.

    Overall the performance proves nothing, but hopefully will be useful in the future, especially in beating the Welsh!

    The only worrying aspect for me is how evenly matched the game was. No offense intended to Denmark as they are an OK footballing country, but i guess must England fans would see themselves as being a few pegs above them in the grand scheme of football standings!

  • Comment number 2.

    Wilshere had a fine debut in a slightly deeper role than he's been playing for Arsenal, his future for both club and country will be further forward. Hopefully everyone will be patient and let him develop and not put huge pressure on him.

  • Comment number 3.

    I still think Parker, Milner and Barry are below international class. Jack Wilshere could prove to be a huge player for England. But apart from him, none of the players in squad or in fringes (or upcoming) are international class.

  • Comment number 4.

    Phil, on what basis would you say Terry was 'unconvincing' in defence? I actually thought he performed pretty soundly throughout, with no notable defensive errors springing to mmind, as well as getting forward and posing an attacking threat at times as well. Your criticism feels a bit harsh and 'stuck on' in a half-baked fashion to the point about his diminishing captaincy prospects.

    Otherwise decent stuff.

  • Comment number 5.

    Darren Bent
    Ashley Young
    Stewart Downing
    Gareth Barry
    James Milner
    Gary Cahill

    All current or former Aston Villa players. The futures bright the futures Claret & Blue and the future is in Aston!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Yeah England were ok Phil but im not sure we can talk about revivals and all that. And why does #1 think that England are a few pegs above Denmark?

    This is why no one likes England because they think THEY are a few pegs above EVERYONE else.

    You never learn.

  • Comment number 7.

    @PreetiBoyC

    Maybe the fact that so many of our internationals are coming from second rate premiership sides like Aston Villa is the problem. We need more of out top players coming from big clubs like the 'big 4-5.' so they actually get used to playing with top class players, not experience of relegation battles.

  • Comment number 8.

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

  • Comment number 9.

    @bodz1

    Can't see the 'Big 4-5', 'so called Big 4-5' or 'The Super Big 4-5' doing anything specific to help England so you need to leave it to us "lesser teams" to have a decent youth system to bring England players through.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think the Lampard-Wilshere partnership looked great. I find it amusing that Wilshere has been widely applauded - and rightly so, especially as it was his full debut for England - for giving a good performance despite having to play in a more defensive position, while Lampard's was deemed by some as somewhere between poor and average. Frank didn't exactly set the world (game) alight, sure, but he played just as well as young Jack in an equally defensive position; just as composed and collected on the ball, with a lovely deft finish that was unfortunately ruled out for offside.

    I'm a Lamps - and Chelsea! - fan so it'll probably seem like I'm needlessly rambling on about his performance in what is ultimately a fairly pointless friendly for most people, but just wanted to highlight his performance and the good partnership showcased by him and Wilshere.

  • Comment number 11.

    Beating Denmark is a good sign for England, because I'd say they're roughly our equals. Quite why the English press and fans think we can win every World Cup is a mystery to me. The closest we've come to winning anything in my lifetime is in two semi-final appearances, in the 1990 World Cup and the 1996 Euros. Apart from that we've looked mediocre at best the whole time.

    People need to stop talking about a single player as the future of any team. That's not how football works. Look at Holland. They built a solid team out of players that worked well together and got to the final. And half the Spain team play for Barcelona and are used to each other. You'll notice tonight that England looked most dangerous when the regular Villa players linked up. Wilshere will be a great player, certainly, but whoever the future England coach is needs to find him a place in a team, not build a team around him. That doesn't even work for the truly brilliant players like Messi; look at Argentina's performance at the WC. One player cannot carry a team, and I wish everyone would hurry up and stop pretending they can.

  • Comment number 12.

    thats true.. big 4-5 need to have alot of English players in them so that they nourish in a winning mentality environment.. only then they will be able to cross the gap that is between club and international level. Spain - 95% of team consists of Real Madrid/Barca players..

  • Comment number 13.

    @Ahsan:

    Josh McEacheran has the potential to be just as good as Wilshere, I've no doubts about that whatsoever. Interestingly, whenever he has played for Chelsea it's been in more of a 'quarterback' role - i.e. defensively. When both him and Wilshere have fully developed, that'll make for a frightening midfield partnership for England. And I mean that in a good way!

  • Comment number 14.

    England played reasonably well..

    BUT THEY NEED A PROPER HOLDING MIDFEILD PLAYER!

    Scott Parker did a great job in the second half, but in the first England looked too shakey defensively, the introduction of Barry and Parker won the game as England then properly defended, they wouldnt need to play both but must play 1, i'd love to see Jack Rodwell from Everton gievn this role, as his future is only brighter.. while Parker/Barrys will not last past 2012!

  • Comment number 15.

    It was great to see Wilshere start and perform really well.

    Problem is that the media and such will now be raging about him and put imense presure on his shoulders. Same happened to Rooney and in all thhat time he has only had one great season in 6/7 years.

    Granted that England have not possesed a player in Wilshere's mould for many a year, a player more suited to the Brazilian or Spanish teams, we do however need to let him develop at his own pace and not ours. Thats the only way he will become the world beater we know he can be.

    The future is looking bright.

  • Comment number 16.

    No 6 - why does every debate about any England sporting team eventually have to be taken over by whining people like you?
    You didn't read the blog and its comments because you were genuinely interested in reacting to England's performance. All you wanted to do was look for some more fuel for your tired "The arrogant English think they're the best" argument.
    One post about England being a few pegs above Denmark and you leap on it.
    I'm yet to be convinced England are anything other than a mediocre side but we are 22 pegs above Denmark in the Fifa rankings, so for now it's a fair comment.

  • Comment number 17.

    i can only see our national team getting to semi finals at best over the next few decades unless there is a sea change in our domestic leagues.we simply have too many foreign players coming through the ranks at our top clubs,unless we limit the number of foreign players England will not progress.unfortunately money talks,and too many English players at our top clubs no longer put country before club.If we go back to those couple of days after we were so humiliated by the Germans at the world cup,our anger and feeling of lack of passion was tangible,at the time i remember the press calling for the system to be scrapped and players with hunger from the lower leagues to be picked.I somewhat agreed....NOTHING HAS CHANGED

  • Comment number 18.

    @17 Frostyboy

    The same old tripe about foreign players. Ever thought the English players are just not good enough?

    Its about time England have a player like Wilshere, not a lump it up the field player we have produced consistantly for the last 20 years?

    All Englands good players for the last 20 years have the ability to score a screamer from 25 yards once every 25 shots and they are labled world class. Thats whats wrong.

    People still moan about Arsenals players being to fancy with their passing and yet Brazil/Spain/Argentina/Germany are all quality passing sides that dwarf the English one dimensial diagonal ball which gets rave reviews from everyone.

    Wilshere/Rodwell/McEacheran/Lansbury etc are all ball playing midfielders, stick fast wingers on either side of those players and defences will be carved open.

    Lots has changed, the young English players are not stuck in 90's British football.

  • Comment number 19.

    @ Unused SUB

    I agree.. until Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham don't promote English players, to en extent even Man City, then it will only become harder and harder for our generation coming to cope with International level.

  • Comment number 20.

    THE GLORY DAYS ARE BACK !!! er maybe not yet. Good win against a slightly better than average side, though any win on the road is an accomplishment. Wouldn't get too carried away with the Wilshire Lampard partnership as Denmark spent portions of the first half galloping through the middle of the park, Glenn Johnson had a bit of a shocker, made amends with his part in the goal, that aside England looked decent. Is it time to stop lampooning Bent and take him serious or will he bottle it when it matters most ??? What happens when Gerrard is fit ?? Gerrard and Lamps has never worked for me, there's only one ball.

  • Comment number 21.

    Great friendly and contrary to several prematch comments very useful to both England and Denmark. Lets how we both win the next EURO qual match.

    We always hear that if only English players were playing in the best clubs in the premier league the national team would be better. I am sure it must be true but at the same time we see se smaller nations say like Denmark that does pretty decent on a regular basis (5 mill people) and most if not all the players are playing in clubs below the 10th place in the premier league or sitting on the bench or in another lower league. What I am saying is that it seems like the football tradition and consistant selection gives Denmark results that goes beyond any reasonable measure. I also have to remind you that although England naturally ranks 22 spots above Denmark in the FIFA ranking and goes to almost all tournaments we did indeed win the Euro Championship in 1992 :-) Does seem a little long ago to bring up. But had too. Finally, thanks to you guys in Englands for providing the most awesome professional football environment the world have ever seen. And I just think the Championship is where you see most of the real english football.

  • Comment number 22.

    #18 sorry but lets take gazza for instance,he was worth two wiltshires in midfield,and what did we ever win with him.lets praise him when its due,not before ,as we are so very keen on.It was a friendly,with so many regulars missing.I believe its the system not the players that we are missing,a good result tonight against good opposition.until clubs stop pretending players are injured,frendlies cannot be taken too seriously.that said ,good to see bent on the score sheet.he deserves a chance..

  • Comment number 23.

    19. At 01:37am on 10 Feb 2011, Ahsan wrote:
    @ Unused SUB

    I agree.. until Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham don't promote English players, to en extent even Man City, then it will only become harder and harder for our generation coming to cope with International level.

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

    Rubbish.

    Firstly - if they're good enough they'll break through anyway (Wilshere proves this - McEachran will follow soon).

    Secondly - why do players have to play at the top 3 or 4 sides for England to succeed? How many Greek players in 2004 played for world class sides? Gascoigne never played for a genuinely top side, always sides just below the very top, did it harm his England performances?


    What England does need is for more players to experience different football cultures and styles. Spain's success is partly based on Barcelona's academy, but also on the fact that the last decade has seen Spaniards travel overseas in numbers for the first time ever. What Ferrer & Mendieta started, Alonso, Torres, Reina, Fabregas, Silva etc continued - and Spain, the perennial underachievers, flourished.

    No coincidence that after Heysel when top English players were forced overseas (85-90 period) England subsequently produced their best ever World Cup performance overseas...

  • Comment number 24.

    Incidentally following on from my point above, I have (sad anorak & England fan I am) checked the facts - every tournament where we pick a team with the most players with experience of playing overseas, we produce our best performances (excluding 1966 when of course we had home advantage anyway).

  • Comment number 25.

    I for one thought we actually looked much better in the second half without Rooney. I still don't understand why he has to be in the England starting XI. He hasn't shone for club or country for quite a while now and I think a stint on the bench might do him good. Personally I think that if England persist with the 4-2-3-1 formation then the midfield choices are Gerrard/Young, Wilshere/Lampard, Parker/Barry and I would go with the triumvirate I named first. That said I agree that Rodwell is the future in that holding role.

    To me the reason for our stagnation as a football nation has been the consistent inclusion of star name players who aren't performing.

  • Comment number 26.

    Not a bad performance I thought. I think the media (and fans) should refrain from either hyping up or bashing the players though. Let them grow naturally and everyone will reap the benefits. Also, because of the tribal nature of club football I think it's a good thing to have many players from only a few teams...

  • Comment number 27.

    23. At 03:19am on 10 Feb 2011, Spaced Invader wrote:

    No coincidence that after Heysel when top English players were forced overseas (85-90 period) England subsequently produced their best ever World Cup performance overseas...
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Spot on man. Won't happen while everyone harps on about the EPL being the best in the world though....

  • Comment number 28.

    Firstly, I didn't see the game. So no comments to make on the match itself. But it is great to hear wilshire had a decent game. He doesn't need to be the saviour right now, he just needs to get used to pulling on the shirt and performing well at this level. Then, whenever his Arsenal (or what ever club he's with at the time) performances warrant, he can step up to England regular and hopefully have an impact at a major tournament. I'm an Everton fan and it's always nice to read positive comments about our players, and Rodwell certainly has the potential. I would like to point out though that whilst he was widely expected to be a defender initially an then a defensive midfielder. Most if not all his best games for Everton so far have been when felliani has played the holding role and he's had license to go forward. This may change in time, but his England career ad the defensive mid we've missed since 2002 is not quite a certainty yet.

    None of these players mentioned (rodwell, wilshire, maceachen) are certain successes, but they're all talented and slowly giving them experience in internationals is surely an improvement on grabbing a couple going into a major finals and hoping one will swim like Owen rather than sink like most.

    I'm abroad at the moment so have not seen enough of Carroll to really comment, but I'd suggest that as the only young striker who's having a real impact, he has to be given the same sort of opportunities, we're not exactly blessed in the striking department and it really doesn't help to label someone as not good enough before they have had a chance.

  • Comment number 29.

    What about Cahill? Very composed, assured performance. Mentioned first by Capello in post-match interview.
    You'd be drooling if he played for a bigger club.

  • Comment number 30.

    Nicely written article. Filled in the gaps for those of us that couldn't see that game last night. Ta

  • Comment number 31.

    When Jose Pekerman was developing Argentinian youth football, he decided that the best thing to do for the youngsters who would soon be turning pros and leveing for Europe was to give them a crush course in Argentinian footballing identity. Drill them in the footballing cluture of thier country so they understand exactly how to play when on national duty. Now, England probably needs to copy this, as the EPL, as far as many are concerned, is a foreign league - joining it for an English lad is similar to an Argentinan lad leaving for Europe, without overstating this.
    The one little problem with England is that it currently has no football indentity, much like Spain was in the '80s. England has to find one first. Watch England play and you see a mix of everything and anything that comes out of the PL, and nothing to fall back on when under pressure. There is no bedrock system. Ideas change from match to match, and even during the match. You have pundits calling for the long ball and the centre man one minute, and a creative midfielder the next! 'Where is Joe Cole' was the cry of many during the last championships! Looks like England is going to be represented for a long time by players from clubs outside the top 4 clubs of the PL. Maybe, it is time to reinvent the old physical and robust style of play that these players are used to, and speak of it in good light. This is the old tried and tested English footballing tradition, and it can work for England. No need demonising big old Sam and Pulis. If England is going to get anywhere, it will do it with these, not another Eriksson, Capello etc

  • Comment number 32.

    Phil, i cannot really believe some of the stuff you are saying.

    This was Wilshere's FIRST england start. He WAS better than the debutants in the last friendly, Carrol and Henderson. His first half performance was calm, assured, intricate and a joy to watch. 93% pass completion and won a few tackles aswell. If England want to go away from kick and rush football, they need him in the team.

    And to say he got 'overshadowed' by Eriksen, who played the full 90 minutes is a bit laughable. The danish youngster WASN'T making his first national appearance, and he was not new to the surroundings of his danish team mates. It was MUCH easier for him. And as i said above, he played the full 90 minutes in a forward role.

    Wilshere new he was being taken off at half time, if you look at his interview. Therefore, capello didnt take him off because he was not happy with him, but because he knew the youngster will be playing barcelona in a weeks time. That, in itself, is quiet a statement and shows how far wilshere has come. Lining up against xavi, iniesta and messi twice over the next month is only going to help his already incredible development.

    All in all, a very impressive debut for wilshere, highlighted by capello. The england manager said he called the performance of wilshere 'interesting' and 'impressive'. The word interesting suggests he might have to start him in a midfield trio of gerrard-wilshere-lampard against wales.

    Wilshere's future is playing further forward. at arsenal he reguarly swaps with song and fabregas. this was the first time he was completely given the responsibility of staying back, and he blended in terrifically well.

    His performance was better than almost every england player in the first half. FACT. please argue if you have to Mr Mcnulty

  • Comment number 33.

    Comment #21. Denmark are a good 'team'. They know the system that they are going to play and they are loyal to their manager. The problem is that they are pretty predictable as they only really have the 1 system. With Agger, Bendtner, Sorensen and now Eriksen they have a core of quality players and will give any top side a good game.
    It was good to see the English players working for each other all the way through the game and just very simply, passing and moving. I thought Bent had a good game, Milner was better 2nd half. Rooney is just dropping way to deep, almost as if he is scared to get into the box and get a chance that he might miss. Young was far more productive and threatening. I thought that the one player who didn't do himself any good was Dawson and maybe intlk football is a step too far for him.

  • Comment number 34.

    Only one thing to say -

    Up the Villa!!

  • Comment number 35.

    I thought Milner was fantastic last night. He reminded me of Beckham in a way that he seemed to be everywhere. He's a really hard worker and one I think who has a great future ahead himself.

  • Comment number 36.

    And not a word about ronney at all i see......... You really do worship him Mr Mcnulty. You have the audacity to say wilshere was over shadowed but no mention of rooney. He was poor tonight, nowhere to be seen and had no influence on the game. Still tries the hollywood pass which commentators drool over, but apart from that, nothing.

  • Comment number 37.

    Well done Jack Wilshire and Ashley Young, doesn't matter though. As soon as Gerrard is back you'll be out of the team.
    Next game v Wales
    Hart
    Johnson Terry Ferdinand Cole
    Walcott Lampard Gerrard Milner
    Rooney Bent

    4-4-2, hopefully scrape a win.

  • Comment number 38.

    Well if McNulty isn't being cynical about the performance that can only mean one thing - we actually played pretty well.

    Not sure about Bent - his movement is fantastic, but how many glorious chances did he miss?

  • Comment number 39.

    England looked much better in the second half with Barry/Parker in midfield.

    I agree that both Wilshere and Lampard looked comfortable on the ball but the tracking of midfield runners in the first half was completely absent - not necessarily their faults as both are attacking midfielders - and as a result the England defence were exposed time and time again. A bit more composure or luck for Denmark and they could have been out of sight by the break.

    In the second half England looked so much more resilient defensively and the only sighter that Denmark had was from the kind of one-touch move from the Danes which would have opened up any team. This allowed England to control the game and they went on to create the better chances.

  • Comment number 40.

    My 2 penny's worth (actually 2.4p with VAT lol)

    GK - Hart: Lost a bit of confidence since he assumed the role of England’s number 1 in August. Let one in although he saved brilliantly with his feet later on. 6

    RB - G Johnson: Same old story really. Shaky positioning, mediocre distribution and slipshod marking. But pacy going forward and assisted the winner. 4

    CB - Terry: Quite assured on the whole but sporadically “left the door open” for Denmark’s attackers. 6

    CB - Dawson: Repelled and blocked many Danish attacks, though they had far too much joy from crosses. 7

    LB - A Cole: A memorable night as he got his record. Steady at the back and galloped forward now and again. 7

    RMF - Walcott: Gave us some lively runs and set up the equaliser, but still inconsistent and not Lennon quality. 6

    CMF - Wilshere: Confident and eager but with the necessary discipline. His passing is exceptional - completed 27 of 29 passes - and he could really smash it for England in this next decade! 8

    CMF - Lampard: The skipper passed neatly and involved others well, but didn’t get forward as much as he might have liked. 6

    LMF - Milner: His energy, effort and work-rate were very impressive indeed. His deliveries were accurate and he persistently asked questions of the Denmark defence. England’s answer to JS Park = indefatigable! 9

    CF - Rooney: Energetic and spread the play by dropping deeper and passing from a “hole” position. Still far from vintage Rooney, though. 6

    CF - Bent: Super positioning and movement (on the shoulders of the defenders); scored a typical poacher’s goal to make it 2 in 2 for his country. Plays best in tandem with Rooney and Young. 8

    SUBSTITUTES
    DMF - Parker: Showed Capello what he’d been missing with numerous fervent tackles and crisp passes. Operated deeply in the holding role…plenty more where that came from! 8

    DMF - Barry: As is often the case these days, it's hard to remember anything Barry did of significance in an England shirt. Lacks pace and appeared peripheral and somnolent. 4

    SS - A Young: Made a roving and productive contribution as a half-time sub (is this his ideal role?). Clinical finish to win the game, vibrant runs and crafty wing-play overall. 8

    CB - Cahill: A half-hour stint which neither enhanced nor diminished his reputation. One or two sensible passes out of defence. 6

    SMF - Downing: Filled his 25 minutes with a few surging runs and retained possession well. Nowhere near world-class, but a fringe player with plenty of promise. 7

    LB - Baines: 10 minutes is not sufficient time to be assessed, though he may now be nailed-on as Cole’s immediate understudy and certainly deserves more international gametime given the season he’s having at club level.

    MAN OF THE MATCH: JAMES MILNER

    http://thechinbeardboy.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 41.

    Phil,

    Just to pick up on one of your points:

    "England's Italian coach will have relished the victory as preparation for a Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales in Cardiff next month that he simply cannot lose."

    I have no doubt that England's debutants made a good impression but, given Wales' abject display against ROI on Tuesday, if England come even slightly close to failing to beat Wales, in Cardiff or anywhere else, then I'll eat my football boots.

    A few people on here mentioning whether or not England are "a few pegs" above Denmark, I would add that they are many pegs above Wales on current squad depth, ability and execution of performance.

    Gary Speed has a thoroughly unenviable task, in my opinion. Capello should be relishing working with his current squad if they continue to play and build on games like this.

  • Comment number 42.

    Its a joke that people are saying that the top teams don't contribute enough to the England team, you could even say that they over compensate seeing as between them Arsenal and Chelsea's acadamies contributed 2 players in Jack Wilshere and John Terry. In comparisson Villa and Man City, much lauded for their contributions on here actually didn't have a single acadamy player in the England set up. Neither do over half of the teams in the premier league.

    If anything was obvious tonight, we looked 10 times more solid with an actual defensive midfielder in Parker on the pitch, if he's not available then Muamba or Rodwell should be called up. Why is Capello happy to just wack anyone else into this position like Wilshere or Barry, he wouldn't play them at the back if we were short of top quality CB's. It's said that good players can play anywhere, which is true to an extent and neither Barry nor Wilshere were incapable of doing a job there, it's also true that neither can tackle particularly well...

  • Comment number 43.

    Whoops forgot about Cahill, make that Villa had 1! Acadamy player in the set up yesterday.

  • Comment number 44.

    All in all it was a good job by England last night, so Capello should be quietly pleased ahead of the tricky game in Cardiff which I can see being played at a frenetic Premier League style pace.

    Wilshere impressed me too last night, and he has potential that's for sure, but if Barry had put in the same performance, I'm sure a number would have been calling for a different player. No doubt part of England's future, but that doesn't making him the bee's knees straight away.

    We may have a Gerrard/Lampard situation going on in the future between him and McEachran, who I gather starred for the U21's the other night (Albrighton has said he has seen the future and it's Josh...).

    Someone who particularly impressed me last night was Walcott. Something has clicked since being left out of the world cup squad, and I hope he gets an extended run in the side. Similarly Bent. Now he's got a couple of goals, may be we will start seeing the poacher that knocks them in for fun - something England have desperately missed.

    All in a number of positives, and despite Dawson and G. Johnson flattering to deceive, a good night.

  • Comment number 45.

    Fantastic alistair must be one of the white Hart Lane know nothingers.
    Milner motm, Rubbish.

  • Comment number 46.

    Decent win. Much better in the second half. First half apart from the goal and a few decent bits of play I thought we looked pedestrian with few ideas. Rooney, apart from a few decent passes did nothing. Too many square balls and not enough penetration. Wilshire did ok but imo was in the wrong position, he didn't look comfortable. We are a mid table international team, certainly not world beaters - yet. As a Liverpool fan I though Johnson was dreadful - he is not a right back - or left back.

  • Comment number 47.

    Decent performance from the fringe players.

    My best XI for 2012:
    Hart
    Cole
    Ferdinand
    Terry
    G Johnson
    A Johnson
    Gerrard
    Wilshere
    Walcott
    Rooney
    Carroll

    Subs: Foster, Cahill, Rodwell, Lennon, Crouch, Bent

  • Comment number 48.

    before i even give my opinion i have to flag up a WILD STATEMENT.

    @40 "Walcott.. is inconsistent and not Lennon quality" - the words Lennon and quality are oxymoron's. Lennon is average to poor at best. He is an out and out winger, but his delivery is inconsistent. Theo's end product has improved this season and whilst i'm not saying its amazing, its easily as good as Lennon's. Theo can finish and can make a difference in a big game. Lennon has wild swipes at the ball and i haven't seen him affect big games.

    .........................................................................

    Overall, i thought England were decent. But people who think England are much better than Denmark are deluded. England are an average side. That is the long and short of it. We may have "great" individual players but they do not bring there club performances to the international stage.

    The performance was encouraging, but bigger tests await.

  • Comment number 49.

    There are plenty of players coming through in the 'traditional' top four. McCeachran and Sturridge at Chelsea, Tom Cleverley, Ravel Morrison and Danny welbeck at Man Utd, Jonjo Shelvey and Martin Kelly at Liverpool and Wilshere, Lansbury, Jay Emanuelle Thomas, Kyle Bartley, Frimpong and Gibbs at Arsenal (Not including walcott who is still young) All these players could potentially play for England. So I think it is a Myth that there are no players coming through. Thats just in those four clubs. There is even more among the other prem clubs.

  • Comment number 50.

    Haven't read the article yet, I want to indulge in a spot of housekeeping.

    Dan Roan did a pre match blog. Paul Fletcher did the match review. Phil McNulty did the post match blog.

    In these austere times and more particularly in advance of the demise of 606, how may BBC staff does it take to cover a match, and a friendly one at that?

  • Comment number 51.

    Wow! typical english hype of a player who had a average game. England where absolutely dominated when they didn't have possesion in the first half.

    Wilshere - England's next big star was average.

    Erikson - Demark's next big star was absolutely EPIC!

    This wilshere reacstion is exactly why Liverpool had to part with £35million for Andy Carroll. Over-rated displays from average performances. I can tell you now i know exactly why Arsenal like to play Diaby or Song because Wilshere cannot defend.

    Scott Parker and Gareth Barry played much much better than Wilshere. Scott parker in particular impressed me.

    People need to stop over-rating talented english players because compared to there european and world counterparts there no way near as good.

    Barca signed Villa for less that Liverpool did Carroll!

    Chamberlin of southampton is valued at £10 million because he is doing well in league 1. You could go to Spain or Italy or Holland and buy a player with much more promise and more experience of big games and european football for less.

    Just incredible what some people think they see when they watch England. Because i didn't see one player on that pitch that had the potential to become like Ronaldo or Messi or Xavi etc.

    Rooney himself should of been dropped by now. Lampard are Gerrard only do the business for Englnd once in a blue moon and Terry and Ferdinand never play together because one of them is always injured.

    Open your eyes people. Wilshere was nothing better than average and for anyone who thinks he was as good as the press are trying to make out you tell me just how good Erikson was, because he was probably a 1000 times better than any one single english player.

  • Comment number 52.

    Joke to say that Walcott isn't "Lennon quality" if anything the stats for this season will show he's more Bale quality with the same number of goals and similar assists in less appearances. Fact is Walcott has been a bit a bit of an outstanding performer for us this season, just hasn't got the praise for it as he has been outshined by our other winger Nasri.

  • Comment number 53.

    We all know England can perform against these sides. Its the top sides that we struggle against and that isn't set to change...As per his predecessors, he has yet to beat a top side with England losing to both France and Spain in friendlies ( best not to mention the WC though as usual it has all been forgotten)
    Its a no brainer for Capello - he will be gone in 2 years so its easy for him to bring in youngsters and get the easy plaudits form the Press etc, even through he has no intention of playing them in meaningful matches.
    Gerrard will be back for the next game and will probably be shunted out on the left as Capello reverts to his familiar formation and players. We should get to Euro 2012 but I fully expect the same sort of perfromances we saw last summer as the same players suffer the same old problems once proper Tournament footy begins.
    I don't expect Brazil, but it would be nice to be able to believe England can up their performances when it really matters. Apologies for a bit of a boring thread, but I find it an increasingly tiresome subject - the ups and (mainly) downs of the England football team.

  • Comment number 54.

    Renzo_23

    1. The £35m for Carroll is extraneous to your argument. Liverpool had just come into £50m for Torres - in itself an overinflated amount - and had a matter of hours to spend it. They didn't have the luxury of bargaining. Market forces go way beyond the mere abilities of a player.

    2. For all the hype you're giving Eriksen, he did ultimately end up on the losing side didn't he? I'm willing to bet that if Wilshire had been absolutely amazing, but England had lost, it would be the result you'd be focusing on, not Wilshire's performance.

    3. Phil McNulty readily admits that Wilshire was overshadowed by Eriksen. Did you actually read the blog?

  • Comment number 55.

    When are the Bent detractors going to get off his case .
    He scores goals - end of story.As usual a lot of the threads talk about the "big players" who coincidentally come from the top 4/5 clubs . Lets hope that Capello has the foresight to know that all of the successful teams over the years had a mix of players , who might not be the best in their positions but actually fit in .You have only to look at the successful Italian teams to see that.
    Good to see mention made of the number of AVFC players there were and I can assure you there are plenty more on the way , however England have lost a real gem in Ciarran Clark who has been allowed to join the Irish

  • Comment number 56.

    Although I don’t disagree with a lot that was written in this blog, I’m more interested in the future. If we look at teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona, the reason they perform so highly and consistently is all down to the ethos and style of football they play.
    This year’s CL is likely to showcase the real difference between these top 2 sides and the rest.
    As a Utd fan it pains me to say it, but I simply cannot see anything but a Barca win simply because they have learnt to play so well with each other and the simple yet intricate style of football they utilise.
    England have a pattern of spreading the ball wide and leaving relatively long distance between each other and the player with the ball often gets stranded without enough options. Ashley Cole was a great example of this is the first half last night. Far too often he simply had to hold it and wait for his team-mates to catch up.
    Compare this to Barca - They also utilise the wings very well yet the ball is spread to the wings from a closer distance. The midfield move in packs in close proximity to each other meaning the player in possession always has an option and their ball retention is to be admired.
    Their central midfield of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi are capable of completely destroying opposition because they are comfortable and composed on the ball and don’t simply try and run at the defence or play the perfect pass. They are quite comfortable to tap it about between each other, frustrate the opposition and pull them out of positions before they strike and if that doesn’t work or the area become too congested, they'll simply turn around, play it to the back and start again. England just don’t play anywhere near that style and I think they're getting left behind.
    For me, Wilshere is in that mould and if I have to praise Wenger for something, it's his and his coaching team's ability to develop players as such.
    England's reliance on certain 'key' big names and long ball football fell flat on its face a long time ago and it's time start thinking again.
    I do feel for Capello and any future England manager because it's almost impossible to instill this method into players who are coached so differently at club level. It has to change at all levels, not just on the odd occasion that the England squad are together.
    How do we go about doing it? We could start by limiting the amount of foreign players at English Club's. I know a similar thing has been put in place in order to qualify for the CL but it needs a tough figure at the top of UK football to implement it and not to bow to the pressure that club managers will inevitably apply.
    If we can keep English football just that then we'll have a much better chance of future success just as Barca and Spain follow a similar pattern. Yes there are a few foreign players in both clubs put there is a strong home grown core.
    Perhaps it's time for England to forget about International success for a while and get to root of the issues and start again from there.

  • Comment number 57.

    My best XI for 2012:
    Hart
    Cole
    Ferdinand
    Terry
    G Johnson
    A Johnson
    Gerrard
    Wilshere
    Walcott
    Rooney
    Carroll

    Subs: Foster, Cahill, Rodwell, Lennon, Crouch, Bent
    ----------------------------------

    Would disagree here as neither Gerrard or Wilshere are natural holding midfielders so we are still stuck with Gareth Barry unless Wilshere or we can get Owen Hargreaves fit. improves in that area. Also I think Cahill rather than Terry to partner Rio Ferdinand and Bent rather than Carrol would serve England better.

    I would like to see how Jack Rodwell would do as as the holding midfielder as he does quite well when he plays for Everton

  • Comment number 58.

    In contrast to the England teams of a few years back I think that this England team sports some fantastic attacking talent, and with a Hargreaves-like players (preferably the man himself) I think that England could build a solid team with Capello's method of play (see Roma).

    Perhaps it would be wise for England to go 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 and give the likes of Rooney, Crouch, Carrol, Bent, Walcott, Defoe, Zamora, and Davies more chances to play together. The biggest problem last night for me, again, was Glen Johnson. The guy could be a good midfielder or at most wing-back, but he's no defender.

  • Comment number 59.

    #54 - Denmark may have lost but Eriksen looked excellent and I would be quite happy to see him at Old Trafford in the summer.

    It was a nioce win for England but we have to sort out conceding easy goals as although the pass and cross leading to it were excellent the position of Dawson and Terry was not and they could have done a bit better at marking Agger.

    But some good positives to take away

  • Comment number 60.

    So who are we hyping up this time? Wilshere

    Dumped Rooney & Walcott have we?

    What's Wilshere supposedly going to bring us. The World Cup? Euro Championships? World Peace? Stop hying the guy up into something he's not yet.

    One last point. We could do without the ridiculously overhyped biased blind ITV commentary when watching England matches. Clive Tyldsley cant help himself screaming "ROONEY!!!!!" everytime he touches the ball.

  • Comment number 61.

    (Yesterday) 115. At 2:12pm on 09 Feb 2011, silkman59 wrote:

    I love England and always want them to win and always will. But how short and/or selective are everyone's memories ? Are we all so consistently and totally in denial that we believe every major tournament debacle is due to some weird quirk of fate or the wrong manager or the players not gelling or one bad refereeing decision ? We're like an alcoholic lurching from pub to pub, convinced his next drink is his last and then he'll become an Olympic athlete.

    It doesn't happen like that. It requires 100% commitment, discipline, desire, ability and a bit of luck....and everyone pulling in the same direction, i.e. manager, players, fans, club managers. That doesn't feel like it's anywhere near happening at the moment, and nothing will change until it is somehow resolved.

    Let's be clear that the consistently poor performances of the summer were reflective of how good we currently are. They weren't a blip or something we can choose to ignore. People mention 1966, 1990 and 1996. All fantastic times, but all long ago and we are now nowhere near that level and we do not have the individuals or the team that can realistically challenge the Spanish, Brazilians, Germans, Argentinians etc etc.

    Hopefully that time will come again, but heaping pressure on the unproven potential of young emerging players is stupid and plain bad management.

    If you are a gambling man or woman you would be investing heavily on a Denmark win tonight. I'm not doom -mongering, just recognising recent previous form which bears no relation to the betting odds on the game.

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

    Boy, Oh boy. How silly do you feel after the above from yesterday? Some fans really are pessimistic and understandably so. But lets get behind the team/sqaud. Wilshere was a breath of fresh air, he's our little Fabragas, he never lost the ball once. With some of the youngsters we have in the sqaud, we really do have a new breeed of hungrier players coming through. I think its time for these guys to play in the Home matches (competetitive) Wilshere can easily handle Wales at home, as can Young. Let's trust these guys in the qualifiers, the old gaurd like Lampard can play a bench role. I would much rather see Wilshere & Rodwell and Young play more often. If they lose a few in the qualifiers its all experience, we cannot put the pressure on them. Just let them play and learn. I am more concerned about the next World Cup than the Euro's anyway.

  • Comment number 62.

    PetShopBoys_Forever

    Didn't see the match, but I'm sure he was excellent. My point was more the OP's insistence on focusing in on some arbitrary duel between Eriksen and Wilshire, as opposed to looking at the bigger picture.

  • Comment number 63.

    6. At 00:35am on 10 Feb 2011, Shevabk2milan wrote:
    Yeah England were ok Phil but im not sure we can talk about revivals and all that. And why does #1 think that England are a few pegs above Denmark?

    This is why no one likes England because they think THEY are a few pegs above EVERYONE else.

    You never learn.
    ---------------------------------------------
    Very true. Denmark have won one major tournament in their history, as have England (On home soil). Both countries produce some good players, but are ultimately half decent also rans compared to real footballing powers.

  • Comment number 64.

    Same old, same old. England win & the press bang on about how things look good for the future.

    The game itself was pretty dull, especially second half. How Barry gets in any team is beyond me. The England side is already full of negative players, frightened of making a mistake. Barry is the lord of that role, only passing sideways & backwards most of the time.

    England just aren't as good as we'd like to think. Time to stop living in hope.

    And I see the usual suspects were crying off international duty again - namely Gerrard. This should not be allowed to happen. He'll be playing for Liverpool at the weekend you wait & see. Disgraceful.

  • Comment number 65.

    One thing i find puzzling at the moment is Capello has been building up Wilshere no end saying he's the future of England, and also that he regrets not taking Walcott to the WC.

    Both have been in fine form this season and deserve their england places. But what does Capello do? He puts them in positions that are completely alien to them.

    To me it's crazy that if these two are integral to Capello's plans then why play them out of position. The reason Walcott has been called up has been due to his displays as a winger and not a right midfielder. Same for Wilshere, he is not a sole defensive midfielder either. He's best as a deep lying playmaker with a defensive midfielder along side him.

    Personally i think England need to ditch the 4-4-2 system as it doesn't get the best out of any of our midfielders or attackers.

    Milner is not the answer on the left, we know Lampard & Gerrard can't play together, we have two attack minded full backs with no midfield to cover for them when they bomb forward and we don't have any two strikers that compliment each other. I feel the team is completely out of balance.

    Personally i feel we should play 4-2-3-1 and it's no coincidence that in the 2nd half we played better after switching from 4-4-2.

    My prefered England line up would be

    ----------------Hart---------------
    Richards-Ferdinand--Terry--Cole----
    ----------Parker---Wilshere--------
    Walcott-------Gerrard----A Johnson-
    --------------Rooney---------------

  • Comment number 66.

    Phil

    I don't think Capello sees Wilshire as a defensive midfielder; as he has himself mentioned, he sees him more as a deep-lying playmaker in the mould of Pirlo or Xavi. Deep-lying and defensive are completely different.

  • Comment number 67.

    I am sorry but I have truly given up on our national team. I read all of the plaudits that are being bantered about your Mr. Wiltshire, heard them all before and soon will hear them all again when there is a new 'Messiah' wearing an England shirt. Having the best league in the world does not automatically make you the best team in the world - far from it. Is the World Cup 2010 now just a distant memory – or did it never happen? Please get real England fans/Sports Writers reading a lot of your comments is frankly embarrassing!

  • Comment number 68.

    I can already see the headlines after England fail to get past the quarter-final stage at the next Euros, blaming England's youth to be useless and over-hyped.

    Your press really has no shame in destroying its own players, let them get on with their jobs, you only have to look at the examples of Germany and now France (in the aftermath of that disastrous WC) to see what you should be doing.

    There should be a lot more effort put on teaching young players how to actually play and encourage clubs to spend time and money to develop proper football players. "Kick and rush" football will get you nowhere (ask the "seniors" who lost against Germany's kids 4-1).

  • Comment number 69.

    a solid, professional performance last night

    wilshire did well, but is not a defensive midfielder, he is a creator!!!
    lampard again did not contribute, barry again same standard performance

    parker did extremly well and he should start against wales instead of lampard - maybe this will buck up his own performances. and with parker being more defensive it will allow wilshire to link up more with rooney.

    bent also did well and got in a good position for the goal and was unlucky with his header, it was a brilliant save from sorensen.

    dawson proved that rio and jagielka should be in the line up before him.
    milner again worked hard and far better performance from johnson than what he produced at the world cup

    hart looked solid, punched a few crosses away and made two good saves but no chance for the goal.

    will be interesting how he plays it against wales - i for 1 would not play gerrard and lampard!!!!

  • Comment number 70.

    Until English fans, players, managers forget words such as commitment, passion and determination and until they stop applauding two louts thundering into a 50/50 on the half way line they will never be more than second rate. Top level football is all about technique, control, tactics and discipline, sadly England fail repeatably at these 4 important parameters.

  • Comment number 71.

    I don't agree at all with the comments suggesting we don't have the any good youth players coming through. We have Wilshire who had a solid game, in the U21's Josh McEachran shined and also Jack Cork was given man of the match. We have Rodwell who can play at the back or in the midfield. Up front we have two very promising strikers in Sturridge and Welbeck. The full back positions look pretty good for the future with Gibbs and Kelly. So in my eyes the future doesn't look too bad.

  • Comment number 72.

    54) kanchelskis_legend

    I think phil has got pretty much everything right in his blog. My opinion on the other hand comes from people like you who think that Carroll and Wilshere will be anywhere near the standard of the likes of Xavi and Villa or Torres. I would also love to just point out to you that in 142 games for Liverpool Torres scored 81 goals. Simply a stunning return which makes his £50 million transfer have some ground to it.

    Carroll (because he is english and apparently amazing) is worth £35 million and his stats read as follows: 103 games - 34 goals. 1 in 3!

    Shall i show you more stats of players valued highly? How about Tevez or Ronaldo Or Messi all with scoring at 1 goal every 2games.

    English player are massively over-rated. And then you have player like Darren Bent who frankly get the job done and is over-priced at £18 million plus add ons.

    And just to ram home my point his stats are: 366 games 155 goals. Just below 1 in 2. (2.5 or so)

    So yes as far as im concerned often these so called world class future stars are simply over-rated and often it means we overlook the Scott Parker's and Darren Bent's of this world who get the job done.

  • Comment number 73.

    #56 - Absolutely spot on.

  • Comment number 74.

    Wilshere is promising but a bit overrated. He's not the 'future of football' type hope we've seen with other younger players who previously broke through as teenagers, such as Owen, Gerrard and Rooney. He's not on that level and wasn't even the best teenager footballer out on the pitch last night.
    Still, he's a talented lad but hardly one to carry the nation's football hopes over the next decade. It remains to be seen if he's a long term fixture in the Arsenal team; we know Wenger doesn't really rate English players a great deal.

  • Comment number 75.

    72. At 09:38am on 10 Feb 2011, Renzo_23 wrote:
    54) kanchelskis_legend

    I think phil has got pretty much everything right in his blog. My opinion on the other hand comes from people like you who think that Carroll and Wilshere will be anywhere near the standard of the likes of Xavi and Villa or Torres.

    ________________________________________________________________________


    When did I say that?

  • Comment number 76.

    This was no more than a meaningless friendly.
    Had Wilshere stayed down when he tweaked his kneee and spent the next year out of the game, everyone would have been on here condemming this type of unwanted international chore, including you Phil.

  • Comment number 77.

    England played their full part in a very entertaining game, which is very unusual for an international friendly. Looked sharp going forward, but so did Denmark, and Johnson in particular gave them plenty of opportunity first half.

    Ashley Young took his goal superbly, and Bent was in the right place, albeit offside. Bent should actually have had a hat trick, and my one moan with him is that he seems to need half a dozen chances to score a goal, something they used to say of Andy Cole also.

    Wilshere looked very football-intelligent, and once Lampard & Gerrard retire after Euro 2012, I would put him in front of holding players like Parker and Barry, to link up with Rooney, the likes of A. Johnson & Young on the wings. Certainly against the better teams.

    All in all, very encouraging for the Wales game. And frankly, not sure Gerrard should waltz back into the team. But he will.

    On a final note, the actual MOM for me though was Eriksen for Denmark. Still 18 apparently, he looked an amazing player, able to find space everywhere - dunno who he plays for, but whoever it is should be grateful the English transfer window has just shut.

  • Comment number 78.

    Generally fair analysis, agreed some real positives came out of last night, it looks as if England players may be getting over themselves as individuals and hopefully now will continue to play some confident, team football. One criticism though Phil, John Terry did not have an unconvincing game, can't remember him making any errors and he was left terribly exposed in the first half by an over exuberant Wilshere. A cheap dig really, let’s move on

  • Comment number 79.

    Glen Johnson???? Cant defend. shocking

  • Comment number 80.

    Good overall assessment Phil. Though i can't help but feel your criticism of Terry was a little harsh. Terry looked composed and distributed the ball well (and on the floor). In fact i feel England benefited hugely by the omission of Ferdinand, who for all his defensive qualities, likes nothing more than to hoof a ball up front and completely eliminate the midfield.

    I find it puzzling how you felt it necessary to single out Terry, yet reserved no criticism for Dawson who was abysmal (again!). His club performances (Fulham in the FA Cup), have been terrible and he was at fault for Denmark's goal last night. Dawson is and always has been out of his depth at international level. I think Cahill would have been a much better option alongside Terry.


  • Comment number 81.

    England were a lot more fluid last night, for two reasons which I am certain Capello finally understands.

    1) Players were not fixed into a formation, they were given roles they play week in week out. Wilshere, it was said, was to be playing a holding midfield role, I am not sure he got the memo. Ashley Young in the second half was given the opportunity to play in a more central attacking role. In the time that Walcott was on he was hugging the right touchline, just as he does for his club. Im glad Capello has finally realised he gets the best out of his players when he sticks to what they know.

    2) Like Spain in the World Cup final, he is putting players together who PLAY TOGETHER every week. We all marvel at Xavi and Iniesta, and now David Villa, plus Puyol and Pique and Busquets who play at Barca every week...we finally got some of that last night! It was great to see not only Young coming on to send some beautiful passes to Bent, but also Downing down the right (not his preferred position mind) but he still linked up well with Young in the middle. Milner and Barry were superb, and Scott Parker to me was a revelation. These footballing relationships can only do a country good. Because players get used to each other and can bring mesmeric football to the International stage.

    It looks really good if we consider some clubs represented last night;

    Villa: Downing, Ashley Young, Bent (plus Agbonlahor) play almost every week as the front three.
    Spurs: Crouch, Defoe, Lennon
    Arsenal: Walcott and Wilshere
    City: Milner, Johnson, Barry

    and coming...

    Liverpool: Gerrard, Carroll and Glen Johnson

    I hope we can say goodbye to the isolation of England players as experienced in the past.

  • Comment number 82.

    80. At 09:53am on 10 Feb 2011, TysonsSocks wrote:

    In fact i feel England benefited hugely by the omission of Ferdinand, who for all his defensive qualities, likes nothing more than to hoof a ball up front and completely eliminate the midfield.

    ________________________________________________________________________


    Do you actually watch football matches, or just tend to guess as to what's going on in them?

  • Comment number 83.

    Wilshere didnt do a single thing better than Lampard in the first half, why is Lampard such a scape goat all the time, what because he doesnt score as many as he does for Chelsea?
    Why don't Rooney and Gerrard get the same treatment? Rooney was AWFUL in last nights game. He was of the pace, paying too deep, and just seemed dis-interested.
    Gerrards 'injuries' are a liability - I seriously hope that him mising all of these friendlies comes back to bite him.
    Barry brings nothing to the tema.
    Parker, as we know is far superior, and took his chance at some playing time well.
    Milner will run all day, the problem is he does very little with the ball, to the City (I presume?) supporter who gave him MOTM, all I ask is for him to point out a single decent cross. His corners failed to beat the first man on every single occasion - what a waste when there was an abundent of decent headers of the ball.
    Walcott AKA SWP Junior - He will never be a major player in his career, he just hasnt learnt how to cross yet. Simply wouldnt have had the chance to cross for Bents goal against a better defender. Was the only involvement he had in the game.
    Wilshire / Lampard - Tidy without being overly effective. Neither excelled, neither really did an awful lot wrong apart from not closing down the midfield quickly enough. Wilshire is not ready for internationl football vs the top nations until his tackling / positioning improves, was guilty of being caught the wrong side of the danish attack too many times.
    Bent - Will get you goals with decent service, as he has done his ENTIRE career, without being spectacular. Shocking omition from world cup squad, has the ability of a thousand Heskeys.
    Rooney - Utterly pointless playing him. Uninterested, uninventive and simply wasnt at the game. England have two options with Rooney.
    1. Tell him to sit up front and play him as a striker
    2. Play 2 strikers and play him in midfield.
    Johnson - Useless in defence, positioning of a turnip and tackling ability of a french fry.
    Terry - Tried to motivate with a few surging runs, pace is going to be a problem but was exposed a few times by those around him.
    Dawson - solid performance, needs to be more calm on the ball and bring it forward when safe to.
    Cole - Solid as always, surging runs down the left as per usual - under used in the england attack, best left sided crosser on the pitch.
    Young - Impressed deserved his goal simply because of his willingness to run at the defence. Would be even better with crouch to aim for, or two strikers.
    Cahill - Has a cracking clearance, nearly got caught out when should have just cleared, will improve.
    sorry for long post!

  • Comment number 84.

    England controlled the game much better when they had two defensive midfielders shielding the back four in the second half. Why Capello couldn't have done this in the World Cup, I do not know. I would have been interested to see Wilshire partnering Parker in this 4-2-3-1 formation with Lampard given more license to attack.

    I have heard and read a few people saying Rooney was quiet, probably because he wasn't a huge goal threat, but I thought he was integral to England's best moves with some excellent passing and movement.

  • Comment number 85.

    Can we now say Rooney isnt a shadow of the player he was last season.

    He's over his injury now, Over his contract situation etc so what gives?

  • Comment number 86.

    Good stuff all round, was impressed with Walcott and Milner on the wings, will be interesting to see what way Capello goes against Wales.

    The only mild annoyance is the captaincy being passed around so much, England need some consistency in that area surely? Terry will not be captain again after last night under Capello, thats for sure.

  • Comment number 87.

    The Unused Substitute mentions Josh McEacheran of Chelsea as another emerging star. I have only see him in the flesh very briefly as a Chelsea substitute, so would be very interested in what those of you who have seen him think of him. Where would he fit into the international set-up? Is he ready to make the step up at Chelsea first of all?

    I think I made the point that Eriksen outshone Wilshere, but also stressed that the Arsenal youngster impressed in a position that does not show him off to best effect.

    Whenver praise is given to England after they win, someone always makes the accusation about people getting carried away. Nonsense - there was plenty to praise in England's performance so why should we shy away from giving them credit?

    One question I would like to throw out there. Is it time Scott Parker was handed the holding midfield role ahead of Gareth Barry? I rate Parker highly but wonder whether Capello still has doubts. On current form my own personal preference would be Parker - what about you?

  • Comment number 88.

    nice blog phil. Capello is now focusing on molding the young players into great players. for JT, i think its time he calls it quits.

  • Comment number 89.

    #87 philmcnultybbcsport

    I've always been bemused by the neglect of Parker. Over the last two or three seasons, he's been one of the most consistent English players in the league. He's guaranteed to turn in a 7/10 performance every week. OK, he might not be a breathtaking player, but his energy and commitment are second to none.

    Maybe Capello's of the opinion that he only looks good by comparison with his West Ham teammates? Still, that seems to me an argument that can only be tested by giving him a run of games, or at least 90 mins to prove that he can make a difference to the England team.

  • Comment number 90.

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

  • Comment number 91.

    Regarding Ashan's comment that Arsenal do not bring on English players.
    In last night's team Wilshire, Walcott and Ashley Cole have come through the Arsenal system and Gibbs would have been in the squad if fit. Lansbury played for the under 21s the previous night and Arsenal players are well represented in lower age group squads.

  • Comment number 92.

    Whehn you have the greatest players in the world this looks like another World Cup and Euro Championship winning team to me Phil. It looks like England are ready to take on the world again and really all England have to do is turn up at these tournaments and the johnny foreigners will hand you the trophy again.

    Now just get Becks for manager and it'll be done and dusted.

  • Comment number 93.

    Hardly anyone has mentioned that Wilshire regularly plays in a 3-man midfield for Arsenal so even if 2 bomb forward there is always someone holding. Why do you think he hasn't quite mastered the art of playing a holding role in a 2-man midfield? It was his first game and I thought at last we had a midfielder who could get on the ball and dictate play. I'm not getting carried away as we have plenty to improve on but it's a good start and youngsters are enhancing their reputations. However, our MAIN PROBLEM right now is what formation will benefit the TEAM the most? It's quite clear that as International football is a possession game, 4-4-2 is out-dated and makes you vulnerable defensively and makes it harder to keep possession with the players we have. Ball retention is so important at this level. We need (like Holland) to pick the best team rather than the best players. I'm a Utd fan but I'm not naive in assessing Rooney. If he's not playing well enough he shouldn't play but we also need to establish where he is going to be most effective. Is it up top or in the hole? What will be most effective for our TEAM? Finding this out is the only way our future is bright. We have good young players who are getting better and better and we need to get the right blend of experience with them but I can't stress the importance of the formation and getting the right players in the right positions.

  • Comment number 94.

    Phil, what was your opinion of Roooney?

    I personally thought he was the worst player on the pitch, again. Forever dropping too deep and seemed frustrated and disinterested. Surely, isn't it time we put reputation's asside and consider who partner's Bent, rather than who partners Rooney? How many bad games does Rooney have to have before we consider his position. Has anyone considered that his automatic selection is actually hindering his and the team's progress? What sort of incentive is it for an underperformer, to select him regardless of his commitment, performance and desire?

    Ashley Young, looked vastly superior to Rooney, with a 45 min performance better than anything Rooney has produced in 12 months!

  • Comment number 95.

    "Still, he's a talented lad but hardly one to carry the nation's football hopes over the next decade. It remains to be seen if he's a long term fixture in the Arsenal team; we know Wenger doesn't really rate English players a great deal."


    Walcott
    Wilshere
    Gibbs
    Emmanuel-Thomas
    Frimpong
    Lansbury
    Eastmond

    These are all the first team squad

    Not to mention - Watt, Afobe, Cruise, Freeman etc who are all pushing for first team, Afobe in particular is one to watch

    I'm sure Arsene Wenger doesn't rate any of these English players at all *headdesk*

  • Comment number 96.

    I was impressed with Capello's introduction of a new tactical plan last night. To try, and succeed in making more than 3 passes continuously without losing possession/lumping it/giving it away is a massive step forward. Early days but could this be a (first/small) sign that england are ready to join the rest of the world and play modern football?

    The likes of McEachran, Wilshire, Rodwell can all pass and move, and if they continue to develop could become the midfield triumvirate in the right shape, or perhaps need another to join the gang. The future's bright .. the future's ... white.

  • Comment number 97.

    6. At 00:35am on 10 Feb 2011, Shevabk2milan wrote:
    This is why no one likes England because they think THEY are a few pegs above EVERYONE else.

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

    To be fair, the FIFA World Rankings think that too - although I'm well aware that they mean absolutely nothing.

    However, you can't blame the England team (and it's fans) for thinking they are 'a few pegs above Denmark' when the world rankings list us as 6th and Denmark as 28th. That's 22 pegs, unless I'm mistaken ;)

  • Comment number 98.

    You forgot to mention just how awful Glen Johnson was as well. Setting up Young's goal was his only meaningful contribution, and in my opinion did not cover up his defensive failings. Time and time again he was caught out of position, caught in possession in his own half, and when faced with players who like to cut in, showed them the inside, inviting trouble.
    For this reason, despite not being wholely convinced by Walker, I would have liked to see him get 15 minutes, and have a look at the alternatives.

  • Comment number 99.

    @3 - 'none of the players in squad or in fringes (or upcoming) are international class.'

    Our U-21 squad are ranked number 1 in Europe and our U-19 squad are currently European champions. I would say the upcoming players are some of our best yet. As for the current squad, I think it is a rather sweeping generalisation. We may not have the strength in depth of the likes of Germany or Spain but we do have many great players to choose from. I think that that is our main problem. We have too many good players and with the constant chopping and changing we struggle with consistency. Personally I would start with a front three consisting of Carroll (as the target man), Walcott (making runs in the channels) and Rooney (playing his drifting free role). Midfield would be Parker (holding midfielder breaking up the play) Gerrard (to act as QB and pass from deep whilst patrolling the middle of the pitch) and Whilshire (to play more a more advanced attacking midfield role). The defence pretty much picks itself with A. Cole (don't like it but he is the best LB we have) Terry, Ferdinand G. Johnson (not the best in the world but the best we have and played well last night.) Hart in goal. Subs would be the likes of Foster/Green, Cahill, Dawson, Baines, Barry, Milner, Lampard, A. Johnson (if he gets played at City), Young, Bent, Defoe (I know there are too many) which would be a strong bench and shows we do have some depth, although I am struggling to think of another RB but I have a feeling I have missed someone really obvious.

    I am finally proud of one of our performances where we looked assured, confident and were able to keep possession well when Denmark were chasing the game. Solid all round I would say and considering our recent form we couldn't have asked for much more than that.

  • Comment number 100.

    Post no. 18 has it absolutely right.We need to stop labelling players world class just because they have the ability to every so often score a spectular long range goal. When will English football supporters get it into their heads that the occasional Hollywood moment doesn't make a player world class. World class players are guys like Xavi, Zidane, Figo, Rui Costa, Pirlo etc... players who dictate the flow of a game for 90 minutes as well as score and create. English players like Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, Joe Cole and Rooney, as good as they are, have never shown the ability to dominate a whole match, they have just had outstanding moments amidst a lot of mediocrity. The problem also lies with the media who are constantly seeking to put English players on this world class pedestal because it is a extremely lucrative and profitable business to do so, seeing as they become icons who endorse and advertise merchandise as well as being used to boost the sales of magazines and newspapers and other activities to generate revenue.

 

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