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England benefit from fresh approach

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Phil McNulty | 06:35 UK time, Saturday, 3 September 2011

Sofia

Fabio Capello is nearing the end with England - so it was with some irony that he flew out of Sofia in the small hours accompanied by the growing sense that he is overseeing a fresh start.

Capello's tenure is scheduled to conclude at Euro 2012 and England's impressive 3-0 win here against Bulgaria, coupled with Wales' victory against closest rivals Montenegro, makes it increasingly likely he will spend next summer in Poland and Ukraine.

And while the victory must be placed in the context of just how poor Bulgaria were in front of their own support in the Vasil Levski Stadium, there was a freshness about England's faces, tactics and team selection that hinted at a shift in emphasis.

Frank Lampard represented the unwitting symbol of change, dropped after 86 caps, the first time England had started a competitive game without the Chelsea midfield man or Steven Gerrard since the World Cup quarter-final against Brazil in 2002, and only earning his 87th as a late substitute with the game won.

And to add significance to the selection, he lost out to Scott Parker despite the absence through injury of Gerrard and Jack Wilshere.

Gary Cahill partnered John Terry in defence, playing ahead of Old Trafford teenager Phil Jones, whose presence in Manchester United's side effectively ensured Rio Ferdinand missed out on squad selection.

At the end of a week when he may have joined Arsenal or Tottenham but ended up staying at Bolton, Cahill was flawless in defence and showed his eye for a goal by opening the scoring early on.

Terry and Ferdinand have long been Capello's default option at the heart of defence. Those days may well have gone forever.

And at right-back Manchester United's Chris Smalling made his debut - a future England central defender who is mature enough to persuade Capello to introduce him to international football in an unfamiliar role.

Jones, his Manchester United team-mate Tom Cleverley and Andy Carroll looked on in Bulgaria, but they are also representative of the newer blood that may emerge more fully before the summer.

Rooney celebrates after scoring against Bulgaria

One central pillar to all England's plans remains in the shape of Wayne Rooney, a player reborn after a barren year and scoring twice before half-time to complete the formalities and take his goal tally for his country to an impressive 28.

He had more difficulty attempting to avoid a gold-plated human statue lurking outside the
concrete bowl of a stadium here in Sofia than he did escaping the attentions of Bulgaria's defenders.

Rooney transferred his club form seamlessly to England and once again confirmed what a difference he makes when he is on his game.

Capello the conservative, whether it is by accident or design, now appears willing to introduce young players and a more flexible tactical approach just as the calendar moves towards the end of his reign.

England's formation was fluid, with width provided in turns by Theo Walcott, Ashley Young and Stewart Downing, with Parker and Barry providing the shield.

Young initially supported Rooney from a central role, surprising given his success in wide positions for Manchester United, but Capello even remedied this with a half-time tactical alteration.

He was measured in his praise during his post-match inquest, slapping down a Bulgarian journalist who suggested Thursday's training session was more strenuous than the actual competitive fixture, saying: "I respect my opponents and their coach. I don't like your joke."

Bulgaria's best attempts at bombast came via the pre-match music - Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath in a deafening blast of mid-70s nostalgia - and the worst in shameful racist chanting aimed at Young and Ashley Cole. The Football Association rightly made its protest and Uefa must act.

Otherwise it was a night when almost everything went to plan for Capello and England. Victory was secured early and energies could be conserved, the only worry being a foot injury to Rooney, and all achieved on an unreliable surface that even had a coating of clover.

It will have been a satisfied England squad that flew home, although a note of caution must always be sounded after fine victories in September because they are then invariably followed by disappointments in June.

This provides the perfect antidote to any danger of getting carried away, especially as
England have also looked more comfortable playing away in this Euro 2012 campaign than they have at Wembley. History tells us we have been here before.

Events in Sofia and Cardiff conspired to take England closer to the showpiece. And while it was not exactly out with the old and in with the new, there is a changing dynamic about Capello's squad that is cause for guarded optimism.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    First. England played an average team and will still likely get found out against the big boys.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good win by England. Good selection by Fabio but the media shouldn't force the coach into rushing the young talent onto the pitch.

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 5.

    ahem, now england look certain to be on top of the group, I say Fabio gives the youngsters a chance vs Wales and give the big ones some rest.
    I don't think England have any chance to win the Euro 2012.
    IMO, england's top target is the semis.
    BUT IT'S EITHER SPAIN, HOLLAND, GERMANY OR ITALY.
    COME ON MEN IN ORANGE

  • Comment number 6.

    Was a good win, but maybe I'm being harsh, when I say that most of the England team could have gone up a gear. Got the job done though, that's the important thing.

  • Comment number 7.

    It seems like we have short memories, england also looked great during the same period before the world cup and qualified with ease. Unfortunately the tournament takes place at the other end of a very long season when the English club schedule has taken it's toll.

    Unless this is addressed, along with our lack of strength in depth, I can't see England making any sort of impact at a tournament in the foreseeable future.

  • Comment number 8.

    This should be a clear indication to the likes of Lampard & Gerrard that their time is coming to an end...Parker & Barry looked good n add to that Wilshere n Cleverley..should stick with the young guns Fabio...

  • Comment number 9.

    Lets be honest we weren't that impressive. Bulgaria were awful. Nice to see some young, in form players given a chance though. However, I still think going forward there is a place for Gerrard in the team. As he is getting older, if England are going to play two holding midfielders like last night, I can see him playing as one of those.

  • Comment number 10.

    Did what was needed last night and that is all u can ask! Disagree with comment above about depth though, we have 2 for every position now.... Shame we do t have 2 or 3 Rooney's though as that IMO is a big weakness for England! If he's out or even not playing well then I think were in trouble! Also as a city fan haven't seen much of smalling but thought he was terrific as was Cahill

  • Comment number 11.

    We resoundingly beat a bulgarian team in their own back yard, let's be a bit more positive without getting carried away...

  • Comment number 12.

    As usual, the media get completely carried away with an England win against an awful side.

    Against decent opposition, Barry and Walcott(on the wing) have been proven to not be international quality. Cahill did well, so I say well done to him, but he is also not proven at International/European level, which ultimately is a worry.

    With Capello in charge, we have no chance of ding well in the Euro's unless he changes team selection/tactics. Rooney should play off a striker such as Hernandez/Welbeck - England have Bent, Defoe.....why not try Walcott there as per U-21 level? Young should be on the left - he is far more threatening there than through the middle, and he links superbly with Rooney there.

    I have never rated Downing, but he is playing well, so he deserves a chance on the right where he has played at points for Liverpool and looked dangerous.

    If we don't get our tactics/selection right, we will have yet another disappointing tournament next summer.......

  • Comment number 13.

    Comment Number 1 sums it up perfectly.

    Who are Bulgaria?

    And if england failed to qualify from yet another very easy group with a list of no hopers then matters would really be bad.

    Lucky for Cappello and the England set up the draws for such competitions are designed to ensure a good sprinkling of just whipping boys there only to make up the numbers and generate revenue.

    nothing can be judged on this performance at all!

    one final thought:

    Good bye to Cappello TFFT !

  • Comment number 14.

    "This should be a clear indication to the likes of Lampard & Gerrard that their time is coming to an end...Parker & Barry looked good n add to that Wilshere n Cleverley..should stick with the young guns Fabio..."

    Why is it when England win against mediocre opposition, we always get a comment like this...so predictable. Let England play Italy, Germany or Holland and see how the wonderful partnership of Parker and Barry fares - not so good I bet...

  • Comment number 15.

    with regards to confidence and quality of the England Team we really should be asking ourselves why it is there was a huge sigh of relief that Wales beat ?
    Montenegro?

    such an attitude speaks volumes when judging how far this side has come/going/been or went under Cappello.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm sorry but every game under Fabio is just putting us back further.His tactics our madness.He wants his forwards and midfielders to press but still play a deep back line.we so need a modern approach to the game if we our to bridge the gap.Cole and Smalling were wasted last night.Told to hold back against the World class counter attacking might of Bulgaria!

    Young, completely wasted last night also.

    All these games should make practice, resulting in a style of play that will meet Spain and Germany in particular, head on.we can't play like we did last night and expect to compete for 90 mins.

    It does seem we will not see a fresh young England side until the last of the golden lot have one final stab next summer.

    Positive notes - Parker broke play up well and put in a mature performance.Cahill done what was expected of him and really took his goal well, the composure he showed for his goal really does light the banner for his case to be a regular in this side.To bank a goal like that under fierce competition, how can you not be impressed even if it was Bulgaria.Downing too seems far more settled in his game.

    Always good to see Rooney follow up on his form, boy seems in a real good place - fingers crossed!

  • Comment number 17.

    I'd probably agree Lampard's time is coming to an end. He'll still feature in next summer's Euro's because he still has something to offer that the likes of Barry can't give, but after that he'll surely be cut altogether.

    Parker has to start - he's the only one in our squad who can actually pressure opponents consistently and make tackles (the job Barry was meant to do last year). You need a defensive player in the centre just for balance; particularly as we always seem to concede possession against the better teams what with our insistence on playing just 2 men in the centre. Furthermore he's great at springing counter attacks as he likes to drive forward once winning the ball.. And if we're conceding possession as expected this really could be invaluable, especially if we're sticking with the pacey forward line we had last night.

    The only question is, who comes back in to play along side him? Barry would surely be dropped when Gerrard/Wilshere comes back, but even then only one can play in a 4 man midfield. Gerrard's still a great player; one of England's best individually - but i really do think Wilshere is the real deal. I'd go with him but it really could be either.

    All that being said, i still think England should go 4-3-3 in which case any argument would be redundant as both could play anyway... we might be able to keep the ball then too!? But hey what do i know..

    Oh and as for this bandwagon of excitement with this supposed next 'golden generation' - please...

    Who IS tom cleverley and how many games for Utd has he played? He was decidedly average at Wigan last year, and really doesn't display anything special whatsoever.
    Danny Welbeck too, has done nothing yet to be warranting such praise. He may have started well, but again, that's THREE GAMES! He did nothing at Sunderland last year either. i'll be amazed if either of them actually nail down a regular starting spot at Utd.
    Smalling does look a decent prospect, but still has a long way to go, while Jones i'll admit does look destined for the top. Wilshere will be the best of the bunch though - no doubt.

    I'm surprised nobody's mentioning Daniel Sturridge though. Last season he scored more goals than Welbeck, in less than half as many games? He's been fantastic in pre-season and looks set to dislodge Anelka/Malouda/Kalou at Chelsea. Surely he must be the next youngster in line for a call up?

  • Comment number 18.

    Whilst the result was good, Bulgaria were poor and it is naive to say this is a significant 'sea change' in England's performance on the european (let alone) world stage.

    Gareth Barry and Scott Parker holding in midfield would have been 'found out' very early against teams that keep the ball. There were periods of the game where the two of them (who's game is very similar) were pressing as a pair, leaving a huge hole in the central midfield area that better teams would have exploited with devastating effect.

    It is in this crucial area of the game, having good ball retention that journalists and fans alike seem to quickly forget when England win an international game. The continued lack of ability to retain possession for sustained periods of time will only mean the same problems will arise against superior opposition.

    I would agree the system of play has the potential for greater fluidity but would argue the personnel still needs to change. Wilshere & Cleverly in for Parker & Barry. Gerrard in place of Young at No.9 and Young moving out to a more familiar position in place of Walcott or Downing. At the back, I think it's time that we bit the bullet (à la Frank Lampard) and replaced John Terry with Phil Jones.

    Glass half empty maybe, but I like to think this is more of a reality check against the usual hype that surrounds an England victory, particularly a comfortable 3-0 scoreline.

  • Comment number 19.

    plz plz plz people dnt get carried away, the group england have as usual is ridiculously easy as shown by wales yes wales beating montenegro last night and they were englands closest challengers. Can u remember the sun headline when englands last wc group was drawn, E.A.S.Y.

    Imo theres no point bringing the likes of lampard , gerrard or ferdinand back as its been proven they are not good enough to win the big tournements(like they say they have had there chances), let wilshere, young, downing, cahill, smalling etc have their chances now

  • Comment number 20.

    Not a bad performance, but not a particularly good one, either. In my book, ‘Team England’ has cashed in all its good will chips and it’s a long way back from Bloemfontein. The true value and ability of the team can only be assessed at a major tournament. Last night, Bulgaria were like 11 defenders, don’t you think? Every time they approached the last third they seemed petrified and unable to conceive what to do next. Encouragingly for England, perhaps, Cahill took his chance in the box with great composure. He is clearly an asset at set pieces on the ground as well as in the air.

    But, as said before, the time to assess is next summer…..

  • Comment number 21.

    @17-
    Started off perfectly - I have been saying for a long time we need a proper defensive midfielder - one that can tackle and put himself about with energy. Barry is so slow, isn't a good tackler and usually gives the ball away when he actually attempts a forward pass.
    Wilshere is the future and Lampard is a great player to learn from and should have played last night as he would have complimented Parker in CM (as per no. 18's comments about Parker and Barry).

    You did however go off track and clearly have an axe to grind when it comes to United which is a shame and is the problem with a lot of England fans - club loyalties cloud judgement/opinions:
    Cleverley actually did very well in an average side last season for Wigan, and Welbeck got an injury when he was on fine form - was Sunderlands best player for a stretch and had 6 in 5 if I remember rightly.
    Smalling is more than a prospect - he's the real deal. United didn't concede a CL goal when he was on the pitch last season (5/6 games), and he's been a revelation out of his natural position so far this season.

    Completely agree with everything in post 18, absolutely spot on.

    Although, I think at CB, the experience of Terry and Rio could be invaluable in the Euro's providing they are playing well.

  • Comment number 22.

    Well the good thing they made light work of a side which are not of a good quality and not scraping results like they have been in the past. I think to be considered real cotenders next summer they should be blowing this group away like the Dutch Germans and Spain. I still think the ingnorance of the manager could still prove Englands downfall, if the likes of Barry, Terry, Parker and other senior members of the Squad have poor seasons will he stand by them? Like he did at the previous world cup. Hopefully we can be at least quietly confident with the younger players coming through tho!

  • Comment number 23.

    From my perspective, the supporters don't get carried away with a England win, but the media do. Yes it wasn't a world-class performance, but why can't we be mildly happy we won?

    If we beat Wales, then qualification is all but sealed, imo. As people have said, I don't see us competing at Euro 2012, but, assuming we do qualify, I think a realistic target is getting out of the group (There are usually 2 tough teams in each group), with anything else a bonus.

  • Comment number 24.

    Being welsh myself i would just like to congratulate wales on a good and overdue win last night.....but as usual with England up next we shoot outselves in the foot with Vaughan and Bellamy suspended now for the game against england!!!!
    Hope we give you guys a better game than last time!!!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    Job well done last night.

    Credit to FabioC for his team selection and tactics.
    A clean sheet for the back four and keeper and 3 goals.
    All away from home which is never easy.

    Bulgaria's first competitive defeat under Lothar Mathaius.
    There are no easy games at international level. No easy games.
    So to beat them at there place is a good result.

    Nice to see FabioC selecting the form players at the time of the actually game with one or two regulars instead of the usual tried, tested and some may argue, failed old faces. No matter what age or experience I believe the manager should always pick players on form and ability irrespective of age or experience.

    Another tough game against Wales coming up.
    Will be interesting to see if FabioC adopts the same approach.

  • Comment number 26.

    What this game represents is the potential of what could come for England. We can't get carried away and declare England will win the Euros but at the same time it would be overly pessimistic to deny that the potential to win it is there. We're now playing with a mix of experience and youth where the youth players bring the more cultured technical ability that England have been lacking in the recent past. Marry that with the new, more fluid and internationally effective, formation and the groundwork is being layed for us to mount a challenge. What England must overcome is the usual psychological battle associated with us in international tournaments. Outside of major tournaments we have even shown against the likes of Holland and Germany that we are on a level quality-wise. As ever, what stands between England and a successful European Championships is the mindset of the fans, media, and most importantly the team.

  • Comment number 27.

    Let's hope we're at the beginning of the end of the Lampard/Gerrard era, they epitomise England's constant failures over the years. Please stay fit Wilshere !

  • Comment number 28.

    England took their chances, which is what they should do given they are all premier league 'stars'. Bulgaria were poor and we were average at best, I still don't understand Capello though. Why did we need two defensive midfielders against a team like Bulgaria? And how does Barry still make the team sheet? Would have preferred to see Cleverley given a chance instead of that cart-horse, and Adam Johnson instead of Walcott. Don't get me started on Downing...

  • Comment number 29.

    When gerrard is fit, i would like to see him, parker and wilshere in a midfield 3, with parker as the anchorman, freeing up wilshere and gerrard to attack. I would have Rooney and the centre of the front three, with young and downing on the wings. This also has the advantage of become a 4-5-1 when defending!

  • Comment number 30.

    .
    PHONE-IN and TALK RADIOs

    They are an absolute disgrace. I'm talking about the presenters and commentators on national morning radios. They moan and critisize our players all the time whether they've played well or not. Don't these moaners realise players may be listening in, and what good is that doing to their self-belief and confidence? They dismiss England's win last night out of hand as 'it was only Bulgaria'. How arrogant and pathetic can you get !!

    Young players need encouragements, not 'put-downs'. Besides what would these pathetic cretins know about football? They should get off their fat backsides and find a proper job.

  • Comment number 31.

    agree on the fluid feel to the team going forwards. the era of pumping a long ball up to hesky or crouch (carrol?) is surely over as it's too easy to defend against. Use the big men for set pieces only when they can march up from the back where they otherwise belong. I actually think we can compete with the big boys with this new squad and tactics

  • Comment number 32.

    Berbatov sitting in the stands watching his countrymen get pasted. How arrogant that man must be. Waste of time.

  • Comment number 33.

    Why do we still want to have Andy Carroll in the team? Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck are much better. What does Sturridge have to do to get in the squad?

  • Comment number 34.

    Re: racist chanting. A UEFA fine won't change anything, and anyway it be a paltry amount as usual. I have travelled extensively throughout eastern Europe, most of the nations of the former Soviet Union and the Baltic States as well. Open and casual racism is common there, and there seems a particular antipathy towards black people. I suppose my comment not be posted, but that is the fact of the matter.

  • Comment number 35.

    No. 33 - play for his club??


    Others - why all these calls for 4-3-1/4-5-1. Rooney plays better as a second striker, England have good wide men in Young and Downing on current form (never thught I'd ever say that), with Johnson as back-up. We have pacey strikers to play with Rooney to stretch the game and give him and our midfield more room in Defoe, Bent, Walcott (when will Wenger/Capello play him as a striker). And finally we have energetic midfielders with technical ability - enough t only need a 2 man midfield with the positions Rooney takes up - in Wilshere, parker and Cleverley.

    The logical formation is 4-4-2. Its just up to Capello to get it right with personnel and how they play.

  • Comment number 36.

    @21 spot on.. Post 17 is just wearing blinkers, typical of the all club mentality and not for the national team. This is why people are not moving on from last year and have always got an axe to grind or need to blame UTD players for some reason - maybe its just success???

    Anyway on a more positive note its good to see young talent coming through, what ever the club, and is good for the future. This is what they need regardless of whether its classed as an easy game they need experience and the more they play together the better it is when they face tougher opposition. You can not just get rid of all the older players as they provide 'healthy advice' and instil confidence in the younger players coming through. Let's not be naive in getting rid of players just yet!!

  • Comment number 37.

    About time Lampard was dropped, it has been long overdue

  • Comment number 38.

    I know I'll sound bitter as a Villa fan but I don't understand all the media hype around Young and Downing and how they have improved so much since moving on. They have only played three or four competitive games at their new clubs and yet it seems they have improved out all recognisition according to the hacks. Suddenly because they play club football in red they are the answer to all Englands problems.

    Well they won't be. I've watched them closely and whilst they are both useful neither would get in the squads of the worlds top nations. Way to inconsistent, percentage crossers of the ball not pinpoint like a Beckham. They are not young, 25 and 27 I believe, and they have not improved that much in a few games for the media's favourite teams. Massive media hype that will lead to more disappointment in the future. Let's face it that Bulgarian defence was truely rank.

  • Comment number 39.

    Rooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooneigh!

  • Comment number 40.

    @ 33

    "Why do we still want to have Andy Carroll in the team? Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck are much better. What does Sturridge have to do to get in the squad?"

    Agree about Sturridge, he looks the best player of the 3. Capello can't be aware that he was the 2nd highest scorer in the premier league from January to the end of last season. Having watched the Under 21s world cup he was the star performer along with Smalling and Walker (Welbeck was very good though as he got the most goals for England but was slightly wasteful on occasions) Sturridge is more than just goals he's great in other areas.

    Been very impressed with Welbeck, looks a class act. Did well for Sunderland and looks a much improved player. Perhaps only about goals but goals win games. People say Darren Bent is about goals but that's enough - Sunderland were nearly relegated when he left and Aston Villa avoided relegation so that's the influence people say he doesn't have.

    Carroll - showed in the first half of last season that he can be an outstanding player and I've no doubt he will.

  • Comment number 41.

    @ 38

    You're right, they haven't improved much. They were already England class and underrated when at Villa

  • Comment number 42.

    Totally agree with the comments from 18, the top euro teams will pass round and through barry and parker with ease, we need to start playing to keep the ball and break opposition down through possesion and not having to constantly chase the opposition to win the ball back! As a football fan it will be more pleasing to watch and might prove succesful!

  • Comment number 43.

    As a Villa fan, I know how great Gary Cahill is. Martin O'Neill let him go for just over 3 million, and replaced him with - Zat Knight.

    Wish Cahil was at the Villa. He is, for me, the best Centre Half in the Country. Has has everything. And, last night showed how good he is.

    Also, Thought Gareth Barry, again, in midfield, was brilliant. Rooney good. Bulgaria poor, but you can only beat who is put in front of you.

    I see Spain got their usual dubious decision to beat Chile last night. with a injury time penalty.

  • Comment number 44.

    What have you got agianst Barry. You never see him play every game, yet because of the media hype, he is 'no good'.

    Barry on the ball is a class player. He never put a foot wrong last night, and made Cahills goal with a tremendous pass. Take him out the team, and you will see how poor Englands midfield will be.

    Parker did not do much to impress last night. Too much hype on Parker. Plays one good game every 4. Barry is consistent for his club, as he was was for Villa for 11 years. I doubt that he ever played a bad game for Villa over those years - he was brilliant for Villa. Why do you think he is a reguler for Man City then....

  • Comment number 45.

    Yet again another example of england playing better when Gerrard and Lampard are not in the team. Hopefully we have now finally seen the back of the over hyped so-called golden generation, and can actually move on to picking players based on form and ability rather than reputation.

    The future of the England team rests with the likes of Smalling, Jones, Wilshere, and Young. Rooney, Parker and (sadly because I don't like the bloke) John Terry will provide an experienced spine to the team, so goodbye and good riddance to Ferdinand, Lampard, Gerrard et al. Hopefully Barry will disappear soon as well - cant see him holding on to his place in the City team for the rest of the season.

  • Comment number 46.

    i just dont get some of the statements on here, YOU CAN ONLY PLAY whats infront of u and boy did we play some great football last night..wayne rooney looked majestic ashley young walcott and downing pacey and creative i really enjoyed it..anyone who comes on here talking about anelka,xavi,iniesta bore off there french spanish respectivly i prefer to look at our strengths and we look a very very good team at the moment with good players..fingers crossed we can do this in poland and ukraine!

  • Comment number 47.

    #44 wrote "What have you got agianst Barry. You never see him play every game, yet because of the media hype, he is 'no good'."

    For me Barry is summed up by the sight of him treading water in the England team as Ozil strolled past him to set up the 4th German goal at the world cup. He is a fine club player, and will do a job at international level, but if England want to me a major force at international level, then IMO he is not good enough.

    If Hargreaves has recovered from his injury problems (and that is a big if) he will certainl displace Barry at club level.

  • Comment number 48.

    Young and Downing were class at Villa and deserve to be playing for England and should regulars in the Champions League as well.

    My England Team would be:

    Hart
    Cole Terry Cahill Walker (as long as he gets first team football, was class at Villa)
    Barry Parker
    Young Rooney Downing
    Bent

    Personally I thinks that team offers everything that you need in a team. A natural goal scorer in Bent, genuine width in Young and Downing, Creativity and Vision in Rooney, Solid holding players with a good passing game in Barry and Parker, Attacking full backs in Walker and Cole, Centre backs who will put there body on the line and comfortable on the ball in Terry and Cahill and crucially a World Class keeper in Hart.

  • Comment number 49.

    Another tedious qualifier against sub-standard opposition. with 24 teams now qualifying (Merci, Michel) this process has become even more tortuous. Wait for the finals, with 3rd place teams qualifying from 4 of the 6 groups - lots of unadventurous draws until at long last England play a good team & lose in the quarter finals.

  • Comment number 50.

    47.' For me Barry is summed up by the sight of him treading water in the England team as Ozil strolled past him to set up the 4th German goal at the world cup'

    Barry was in Midfield in that game, and he was the only player who tried to chase back, didn'y see Lampard or was it Gerrard in midfield chasing back - yet who should have been marking Ozil - yes, Glen Johnson - where was he at the time - walking out of the Germans Penalty area. So dont blame Barry, for the error by Johnson, in not being disciplined in his role.

    And you metioned that when Hargreaves is fit, he will repalce Barry. Hargreaves, the most over rated, over priced, player, whos whole hype was based on 2 OK games in the World Cup of 2006. Dont get me started on Hargreaves

  • Comment number 51.

    Delusion is rife among England supporters; the winners will probably be from either Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal or even France!

    Last night's match was like enduring a bad English League Two game!

  • Comment number 52.

    No. 44:

    Barry has been completely outclassed in an England shirt as soon as we come up against anyone half decent - going all the way back to the Mclaren qualification failure debacle. He was terrible away at Russia and at home to Croatia back then. Since, he has been awful against Spain, Germany, Brazil, Holland, etc etc etc. In the PL, he plays well against the mid-table teams, but as soon as they play United, Arsenal, Chelsea, he gets out-played yet again (check Community Shield for reference). He is slow, a decent passer at best, isn't a great tackler, doesn't have any skill, and isn't an especially brilliant reader of the game. He only got into the England team in the first place because he was left footed, and in fairness, he does have a decent delivery on that foot, but he offers literally nothing else.

    He wouldn't get anywhere near any top 20 International teams' squad, yet he is a fixture in our first XI. Its embarrassing.

  • Comment number 53.

    Whilst I find it incredibly hard to suggest we should drop world class players like Lampard/Gerrard/Terry/Rio, I do think our youngsters are showing massive potential and so dropping one or two isn't such a bad idea. With that in mind I'd love to see the following team at the moment:

    -----------------------Welbeck-------------------------------------------------------
    -----------------------Rooney--------------------------------------------------------
    Young---Wilshere---------------Cleverley/Gerrard/Lampard---Downing/Johnson
    Cole-----Rio/Terry/Cahill----------------Jones---------------------Smalling-------


    A bit messy, but you get my point. I'd be hesitant to drop those big four players completely, maybe keep one or two there for their experience and leadership skills. There's also an argument for Glen Johnson at right back but I prefer Smalling there, and Jones at CB when uncapped is of course a risk, but I think he'd do excellently. Cleverley may not quite be ready yet, especially ahead of Gerrard and Lampard, but again it might be a risk worth taking.

    Last night's performance was decent, but we still didn't look good enough in possession to threaten any top teams at all. I think giving the in form youngsters a chance now could bring huge reward, and if it was to work, then they'd have the final 2 qualifiers and several friendlies to get used to playing with each other, and to learn to play as a team. All this chopping and changing never helps.

    But then, I'm not Capello, and it's easy to suggest something like this - making it happen, and making it work, are the hard part...

  • Comment number 54.

    Oops, missed Hart out in goal :)

  • Comment number 55.

    It is always amazing that the press and pundits seem to watch a different game to the 'ordinary' fan.
    Watching with a host of supporters from different clubs. OUR consensus was that England were mediocre against poor opposition and would get run over by decent oppostion.
    In the first ten minutes, did Rooney touch the ball?
    You say 'more fluid' - you're joking - sideways and backward passing [ not to mention the passes behind and not infront of players!] How many times did we attack [too few] to find none of the midfield had come up to support.
    Cahill did well to score but in truth, pathetic defending by Bulgaria was to blame for the goals against them.
    If Bulgaria had a defence we would have been struggling.
    How many times did Bulgaria attack and but for a decent finisher would have scored. The back four coped well with minnows, but how many times were Bulgaria through the midfield to attack them? Yet somehow Parker and Barry get praised.

    Got a result, but unless it's Capello's plan to attack on the break, he has no more idea now than he did before.

  • Comment number 56.

    No. 50:

    Oh dear. :-s
    1. Barry was the holding midfielder (supposedly) so shouldn't have had to be chasing back if his positioning was any good - he should already have been there covering his FB's attacking instincts (as Johnson was asked to do).
    2. Ozil was playing in the centre, so Johnson wasn't supposed to be marking him anyway!
    3. The point is, Barry is lightning slow - Ozil isn't particularly quick and he went past Barry like he wasn't there.
    4. As a good midfielder, you have to have the know-how to hold a player up if he is better and quicker than you.
    5. Hargreaves wont need to replace Barry as when De Jong is fit, he'll walk straight back into the team, and they wont drop Aguero, Dzeko, or Toure.
    6. Hargreaves - over-rated??? what?? 2 time European Cup winner, rated as one of the best midfielders around by 2 of the greatest managers of all time - multiple European Cup and Title winners Ferguson and Hitzfeld!! Yeah, well done, you know your stuff! :0 lol

  • Comment number 57.

    Good result but as many people have said, when England come up against true quality they flop like a jelly on a wet mattress. Qualifiers just mask the problem because of seedings making England the 'top' team.

  • Comment number 58.

    Gareth Barry is a top quality player as every Villa fan will agree. At Villa he wasn't asked just to sit deep and he made tremendous runs from midfield. He also took all corners and free kicks that needed to find a head because he is more accurate and consistent in doing so than Young, Milner or Downing. A top class team player who I hope will crown his career with a Premiership winners medal this year.

  • Comment number 59.

    Perhaps UEFA should just hand England the trophy, without wasting everyone's time playing the tournament. I mean an English victory next year is a forgone conclusion.

    Just like it was the last time.....

  • Comment number 60.

    I wonder whether all these youngsters would be getting the praise if they still played at the likes of Blackburn, Fulham etc much as I wonder if Gerrard/Lampard would have kept their England places if they'd played for a less trendy club. I may be over sensitive but it sounds like an insult when Gary Cahill is said to have "ended up" at Bolton rather than a north london club.

    I find it suspicious that the likes of Phil Jones only ended up in the England squad when he moved to a "big" club. Successive England managers seem to operate a policy of players not being good enough unless they play for a big/london club.

    Maybe this is because they view trips to the likes of Bolton as a waste of their time but surely watching the likes of Cahill, Wilshere and Sturidge is what Capello is paid to do rather than restricting his trips to within 50 miles of his plush pad?

  • Comment number 61.

    56

    Yeah, if you support United you must be right.

    Most football follwers know that United fans see nothing but reds and cannot appreciate anyone or anybody that has a different view.

  • Comment number 62.

    Good Win but nothing special average performance against a very poor side I would say but it was very refreshing though, nice to see new faces on the pitch and some of the old guards sitting on the bench this is the way forward MR Capello.

  • Comment number 63.

    Good win for England - yes Bulgaria were appalling but you still need to remain professional.

    I have had long doubts over the likes of Downing, Young, Barry & Walcott however, I am happy to concede I was proved incorrect last night. Although Walcott did spurn a great chance, the work by him for the 3rd was excellent.

    I think Lampard had a tricky season returning from injury last year. I'm not saying he is by any means back to his best, but I get the impression he will be in amongst the goals a lot more this season for Chelsea which can only be good for England - I wouldn't write him off just yet. Besides, speaking of Lampard & Gerrard in terms of potential cover for e.g. Parker, Wilshere etc that is hardly bad pair to come on in any situation given their experience.

    The best thing for Capello is the selection dilemma he faces now with the new players really making a good case for their selection. Excluding the starting line up:

    Jones, Richards, Baines & Gibbs all have bright international futures defensively

    Wilshere, Cleverley, Rodwell will hopefully develop further in Midfield

    Wellbeck, Carroll & Sturridge offer pace & power options up front.

    I'm not professing that this is the second coming of England; especially after the disappointment of their world cup performance, but I do see a renewed belief in the England team & I am optimistic for their future games.

    Given the excellent performance from the Welsh last night, I expect that match up to be a very good test of where England really are.

  • Comment number 64.

    Very decent result for England, but to be fair their game is so much different of Holland, Spain and Germany. If you see those countries play with such ease and joy then England has a very long way to go. But with a good draw and some luck at EURO2012 everything can happen and anything is possible.

  • Comment number 65.

    No 60

    Totally agree.

  • Comment number 66.

    @58
    I know a number of Villa fans who don't agree with you.

    He was the best player in an above average team. If he is really one of the 2 best CM England have, then what does that say about the England team?!

    Thankfully, I know that England are not an above average team - we have the players to be a very good team, unfortunately its players like Barry, Johnson, Walcott, Heskey, Crouch, over the last few years that have brought the level down.

    England team should be on form and ability (forgetting injury):
    GK Hart
    RB Smalling/Richards
    CB Rio
    CB Terry - top level Intl./European experience is key at CB if you want to win tournaments (France WC & EC - Lebeouf, Blanc, Desaiily. Italy WC - Cannavaro, Nesta. Spain WC & EC - Puyol, Pique (although young, how many CL appearances does Pique have!).
    LB Cole
    RW Downing/Johnson
    DM Parker
    CM Wilshere/Lampard/Cleverley (would like to see Lampard given the chance alongside a proper DM).
    LW Young
    CF Rooney
    CF Walcott/Bent/Defoe/Welbeck/Sturridge (if he can get games for Chelsea)

  • Comment number 67.

    60.... in fairness, phil jones only featured extensively in the prem with blackburn last season. As a by product of those perfomances he got a transfer to the PL champs and England. Agree with you regarding the Cahill point though.

    When France were on top of their game back in the late 90's, prior to this they played a young team for several years and the reaped the benefits when they grew up. I feel we should be doing the same thing now. Smalling should switch to rb full-time as he has been immense there.

    England team for euros:


    Hart

    Smalling Jones Cahill Cole

    Parker Wishere

    Lennon Gerrard Young

    Rooney

  • Comment number 68.

    Once again over reating. The real tests will come next summer. At least Capello is showing some courage in giving these lads a chance.

  • Comment number 69.

    And one more thing. Why can't we have these tournaments at the start of a season instead of waiting to hear the usual excuse of "its been a long season and the players are tired". Look out for that one next summer folks.

  • Comment number 70.

    50: You don't have to be a brilliant player to win a Champins League winners Medals.

    1). Ivan Campo, Milan Baros, Traore, Benny McCarthy, David May, Paul Lambert - the list is endless of 'average players winning winners medals.

    Yes Manc - I do know my Stuff - LOL

    No. 66. Smalling Richards and Cleverley, Walcott, Welbeck, Johnson, - are you having a laugh.

    Rio's past it and where is Cahill in you team.

  • Comment number 71.

    I'm amazed you have the nerve to condemn the Bulgarians for racist chanting when there were several thousand English fans singing "where's your caravan". I completely agree that UEFA must act.

  • Comment number 72.

    #7 Mrjimjam

    Quote: "It seems like we have short memories, england also looked great during the same period before the world cup and qualified with ease. Unfortunately the tournament takes place at the other end of a very long season when the English club schedule has taken it's toll"

    From the article: "a note of caution must always be sounded after fine victories in September because they are then invariably followed by disappointments in June."

    Sorry, who is getting carried away? Did you read the article?

  • Comment number 73.

    funny phil, Check the Rest Top teams in Europe they r doing far better than England, even France and Portugal are doing better, Scot Parker is not good enough and so is Gary Cahill and Walcott, Barry and downing also, in Euro no time to cross the ball. England are still clueless in passes and Capello did not change anything. Same old Barry, Terry, Cole, Rooney, Walcott and recent press lovers Parker and young. Why didnt he play Jones,Richards,Smalling and Baines? dats wat is called a new look team, or a CM of Cleverley and Milner? dats a new look Mid field, or Young, Rooney, Adam Johnson and Walcott? now dats a new look team. The team'll also improve before the Euros. Barry, Terry,Parker,Downing can never get better and also Cahill can never improve further at Bolton, so wats the point playing them?

  • Comment number 74.

    @61
    Yes, of course, I just see red:

    Thats why I've praised/defended/not even commented on because they are shoe-ins;
    Downing, Lampard, Terry, Sturridge, Walcott (in terms of I think he should be a striker and think he could be world class), Wilshere, Hart, Cole, Parker. All United players I assume??

    Yet you fail to criticise (which actually proves that for at least one point I was right - my club loyalty's point) your fellow Villa fan for a plainly ludicrous post where he defended Barry and said Hargreaves was over-rated!?

    Strange.......perhaps its Villa fans, not United fans that can't see past their own club then hey?! Just a thought. :-)


    @ 60 - I think in fairness, Jones was getting massive praise - it was only a matter f time before he got his England call, irrespective of who he played for (Cahill doesn't play for a big club). Smalling hardly played for Fulham really, so only properly proved his ability/quality at United - although also, if he hadn't been playing brilliantly at RB for United this season, would he have been called up?

    I think with Gerrard/Lampard, no manager in their right mind would have dropped them from the squads - of course they would have kept their place in the team coz they were/are fantastic players! The problem was, they were so good, every England manager seemed to think it essential to find a solution to play them together - which is nothing to do with who they play for.

    Seriously, small team mentality/opinions based on club loyalties are quite pathetic.

  • Comment number 75.

    Lets see how England do against the World's no:1 team, which Holland, on February the 29th.
    We should see some errors which Cappello needs to sort out.

  • Comment number 76.

    Cahill does not have to improve. He is the BEST Centre half in the Country.

    Jones,Richards,Smalling and Baines - average and over rated. I sense a North West influence here....

  • Comment number 77.

    "1). Ivan Campo, Milan Baros, Traore, Benny McCarthy, David May, Paul Lambert - the list is endless of 'average players winning winners medals. "

    How many of those players won CL medals with two different teams?

    53.At 11:16 3rd Sep 2011, vic777 wrote:

    "Whilst I find it incredibly hard to suggest we should drop world class players like Lampard/Gerrard/Terry/Rio, I do think our youngsters are showing massive potential"

    Vic you appear to be confusing good with World Class. A player is World Class if they would be talked about when picking a World XI (or at least a world 23). Currently for England Rooney and Cashley are probably World class, but nobody else is anywhere near.

    57.
    At 11:29 3rd Sep 2011, Ibrox_Via_Bristol_1985 wrote:

    "Good result but as many people have said, when England come up against true quality they flop like a jelly on a wet mattress. Qualifiers just mask the problem because of seedings making England the 'top' team."

    Reasonable point, although just a bit harsh. Realistically, despite the rankings England are probably about the 8th best team in the world (give or take a few places). Translated to the major tournaments, it means if they get to the quarters they have performed too the expected level, last 16 is disappointing, semi-finals would be a great result. The problem is the hype from the media trying to pretend we have a chance of winning any of the major tournaments - we are still light years behind the likes of Spain and Germany.

  • Comment number 78.

    71.
    At 12:02 3rd Sep 2011, TheTomTyke wrote:

    I'm amazed you have the nerve to condemn the Bulgarians for racist chanting when there were several thousand English fans singing "where's your caravan". I completely agree that UEFA must act.

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

    I was going to say the same thing. Racism against English players has been a main news headline but I've read zero press coverage of our own fans doing it, and I wish it has been mentioned by one or two people as well. Both should be condemned and have no place in football or anywhere

  • Comment number 79.

    England did what they needed to do last night. Nothing spectacular. However, I think it is probably time that England had a clear out of their older players. We have too many 30 somethings in the squad, it would almost certainly be better to put in the youngsters now and let them develop together as a squad, similar to what Germany are trying to do.

    Jones should replace Terry, especially if Smalling is playing at right back. They are beginning to play week in week out for club, so therefore should have a good understanding of what they each need to do, which is what defence is all about.

    As for England trying to learn how to retain possession, I can't see it working. Admittedly they should be better than they are on the ball, but I fail to see that the way to beat the likes of Spain and Holland is to match their tactics except with worse players and ability. Instead England should try and find a formula where they can win games with only 30% possession.

  • Comment number 80.

    @70:
    1. Ivan Campo was a tremendous player in his prime at Real Madrid.
    2. Did any of that list win 2 European Cups : at different clubs, under 2 of the most successful managers in our era?
    3. No I'm not having a laugh - neither is practically every pundit/expert in the country that rates these players - it seems you're one of the few that doesn't. Have you seen them play or does life stop outside of Villa Park?
    4. Rio - past it? From what I see every week, when fit, he's still the best CB in the league and one of the best in the World. CB is the one position where age doesn't catch up with you as much.
    5. Cahill isn't in my team FIRST XI (he would obviously make the squad), because I picked Rio and Terry in a 4-4-2 - that isn't hard to grasp is it??!! :-s

    Thanks

  • Comment number 81.

    An international manager with bags of exPerience picks Barry as does his club manager who has won many titles and cups... But clearly you arm chair critics who probably couldnt kick a ball and have no experience are all right! Not every player is a super star or "fashionable" but he does a specific job for the team...if he was no good fat lumplard would have played instead! Everyone is entitled to their opinion but do u not think top class managers may know a little more than us?

  • Comment number 82.

    no phil, we dont need your criticism of the england team again. besides, i bet you were loving it when the swiss got a 2-2 draw out of us. and dont bring anything about walcott being in a crisis at arsenal, he is playing well and is a sure starter against wales. also, heres the million dollar question. Will steven gerrard walk back in to the team? for me, he would because his best position is CAM and that works superbly but we need to stop obsessing over 4-3-3 as our wingers cant cross. 4-5-1 should have been the world cup formation, yet capello never considered it. we should be focusing our play around a fit steven gerrard, and surely he should have remained captain. hes the only player to truly give a care in the world.

  • Comment number 83.

    England are always flawless and unstylishly impressive in the qualification stages, it's no point revelling and thinking optimistically that we can flourish.

    I'm still unconvinced that the team should shape around Rooney, the tactical flexibility and refurbishing should allow us to design it around the midfield, and Steven Gerrard returning would provide a welcome boost.

    Capello is a man who has betrayed every word and philosophy he said, he'll only invest his energy in recruiting players if the media lavish all over them or they're featuring for large clubs, last year when Jones was at Blackburn, Smalling at Fulham and Cleverley at Wigan and even Welbeck at Sunderland...why didn't he employ them then?

    he should be sacked, and a ban should be imposed on foriegn managers, bring an Englishman in the face and shape of Ian Holloway or Steve Bruce, Harry Redknapp or appoint Stuart Pierce.

  • Comment number 84.

    Good win last night from a potentially tricky fixture with Rooney outstanding. What's amazing me are the discussions about England's best team for the future including every United youngster especially Cleverly, Welbeck and Jones. This is based on 3 games, how can you base England's future on the back of this, lets see how they're playing around Christmas to get a better idea.

    Of the golden generation the only player who deserves the axe is Lampard who for years has proved that at the highest level is not good enough. The future does look better with the best English players being bought by the top clubs which will only improve them, but we're still way short of Spain, Holland and Germany.

  • Comment number 85.

    No.77. Hargreaves played 4 Champions League games the year he won it with Bayern and, one of those games was the Final. He also played 14 League Games that season.

    When you sign for a Team like Man Utd and Bayern, there is a good Chance these days, that you may get to a Champions League final, and not becaue you are the greatest player ever.

    David Beckham is the only truely World Class Player England have had over the past 10 or so years. His record and performances say it all.

    When teams like Real Madrid, AC Milan and want to sign you, you got to be half decent. He did miracles for Man Utd, and his peformances for England have been immense.

    Gerrard has ner done it for England, and I would have doubted, at his peak, he could have played that way for any other team in Europe.

  • Comment number 86.

    I thought the performance was solid but less than overwhelming against a very poor Bulgarian team. We still have issues with possession and there were times when Hart looked exposed but a win is a win, especially on this surface and away from home.

    Our passing needs to develop some speed and precision when we're moving forward out of our own half and I'm impressed that FINALLY, Capello is starting to move away from the old guard. Cole, Rooney and Terry should stay but I'd still like to see the back of Ferdinand, Barry and Lampard as regulars.

    I would have liked to have seen how Jones and Terry got on together but I guess that might be food for Wales.

  • Comment number 87.

    does my profile work...

  • Comment number 88.

    TBH Bulgaria didn't put up much of a fight we won at a canter as for our problems come tournament its very hard to manage the fixture list to include a winter break which will also coincide with club cup competitions that'll keep english players refreshed come start of the tournament. Last night proved we dont need the overhyped duo of Lampard and Gerrard they've had their time and didn't do much when it mattered it's time for the new blood to be bled into the team

  • Comment number 89.

    Is Capello definitely leaving after Euro 2012? Why can’t he sign a new contract? It’s not like there’s an abundance of experienced and highly qualified candidates with a track record of success waiting to take over (Harry Redknapp – don’t make me laugh)

    The midfield were awful last night. Parker, Barry, Walcott and Downing? I’ve never felt less enthused about an England midfield in my life. How many of those would get into the Barcelona or Man Utd teams? The Germans, Dutch, Italians, French and Spanish would rip them apart.

  • Comment number 90.

    People saying only English managers(Rednapp?) can lead England to Glory are having a laugh right?

  • Comment number 91.

    @70:
    1. Ivan Campo was a tremendous player in his prime at Real Madrid - no he wasn't

    2. Did any of that list win 2 European Cups : at different clubs, under of the most successful managers in our era? Flawed argument as I have mentioned

    3. No I'm not having a laugh - neither is practically every pundit/expert in the country that rates these players - it seems you're one of the few that doesn't.

    Have you seen them play or does life stop outside of Villa Park? Yes I have seen them play

    - I am 53 years old - I have seen the greatest player of all time in George Best, along with Johan Cruyff and Pele at Villa Park. These were and, are in a different League with todays players. game not stopped every 30 seconds because of another dive by the so called great players.

    4. Rio - past it? From what I see every week, when fit, he's still the best CB in the league and one of the best in the World. CB is the one position where age doesn't catch up with you as much. - From waht you and waht I see are two different things. Rio has been a OK defender over the years, but, never brilliant. - my opinon.

    5. Cahill isn't in my team FIRST XI (he would obviously make the squad), because I picked Rio and Terry in a 4-4-2 - that isn't hard to grasp is it??!! :-s

    Cahill should and will stay in the first team for England. If only Man Utd or Man City had a centre Half like that....

    Don't like your tone mate.......Its all about opinion

    Thanks

  • Comment number 92.

    I really really REALLY wish people would stop going on about the so-called “golden generation”. There’s no such thing as an English golden generation. Terry, Lampard, Gerrard, Cole etc have won absolutely nothing for England. They haven’t even come close. Less hype, more pragmatism please.

  • Comment number 93.

    @91

    >> CB is the one position where age doesn't catch up with you as much.

    Clearly you never saw 36 year old Laurent Blanc’s last season at Man Utd.

  • Comment number 94.

    @83
    first 2 paragraphs were spot on. Couldn't agree more (except for the Gerrard point - he hasn't been anywhere near his best for 2/3 years now). Ferguson doesn't build the United XI around Rooney, he just plays Rooney in his best position. Capello should do the same.

    Again though, we have this thing about players only picked becaus ethey play for a big club - or on this occasion you obviously have a particular dislike for United (Liverpool fan based on previous paragraph?).
    Last season - Jones had only played a handful of games and was 18.
    Smalling was already at United, and playing regularly in the CL and DIDN'T get called up. It is the need for him at RB that has got him his call-up this time.
    Cleverley was still learning to play at PL level. He has come on leaps and bounds in 8 months and fully deserved his call-up now, but wasnt ready when he was at Wigan - we have to thank Wigan for how they have helped develop him though.
    Welbeck got called up for and played the Ghana game - HE WAS STILL AT SUNDERLAND then!

    I love picking apart factually inept posts! :-)

  • Comment number 95.

    No. 92 - I agree. The last decent team we had was England 1990 and England 1996.

    I also believe, that Glen Hoddle should be the nexr England Manager. We were playing great football under Hoddle before the religous thing....

  • Comment number 96.

    94: Nevs_A_Red - You really fancy yourself don't you........I haven't agreed with any of your INEPT posts...

    Anyway - good talking to you - off down the pub.....

    England and Villa forever

  • Comment number 97.

    .
    I asked my mate in the pub last night what England ought to do to win the European Cup.

    His answer was short and to the point. Without hesitation he said with some definite determination : "...kick the ball in the f.....g net...."

    Now, don't tell us you haven't been told !!

  • Comment number 98.

    @93 - LOL.

    Unfortunately I had a front row seat so to speak. :-)

    @85 - I'm yet to see anyone back you up on your Hargreaves argument?! :)

    Fact is, Hitzfeld rated him, Fergie rated him, Mancini obviously rates him, England managers have rated him, pundits and players have rated him - I'm gonna stick with my opinion too.
    I do however COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU on Beckham being World class. :-S who'd have thought hey! Seriously, the flack he took from "fans" who say he ffered nothing/over-rated etc etc was/is ridiculous. If it came to it - he'd still be a better option than SWP/Aaron Lennon now!

    You were a tad harsh on Gerrard though - he has had some fabulous England performances over the years, and was a truly world class midfielder in his prime.

    @91 - Fine, you're entitled to your opinion, but don't accuse people of being wrong/stupid etc. and then say "I don't like your tone...it's all about opinion". It doesn't wash. And especially when my opinions are those of the majority. *thumbs up, lets leave it there*.

  • Comment number 99.

    What amazes me are the amount of comments that do NOT back using the young brigade!
    The old worn out team of Terry, Lampard and Gerrard failed miserably for England time and time again.
    If the youngsters are good enough to play in the premier league, then they are good enough to play for England.
    Bobby Charlton, Jimmy Greaves, and many more played as teenagers for England and went on to be world class players.

  • Comment number 100.

    Good win against a poor team, so not getting carried away. Still a lot of room for improvement, and not sure why Downing continues to get a chance when you have someone with the talent of Adam Johnson on the bench. Good player as he is, Smalling at right back isn't the answer, worrying thing is i'm not sure who is the answer, but with Willshire to come back into the team when fit i'm a bit more optomistic about Englands future.

 

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