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Maturing Hart vital to England

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Phil McNulty | 19:21 UK time, Thursday, 7 June 2012

Among the fall-out from the incident that left Gary Cahill with a double fracture of the jaw and renewed the debate about Rio Ferdinand's exclusion from England's Euro 2012 squad, manager Roy Hodgson may eventually reflect that things could have been worse.

The cynical shove from Belgium's Dries Mertens that ended Cahill's hopes of figuring in Poland and Ukraine also narrowly avoided inflicting damage on goalkeeper Joe Hart as his late evasive action unwittingly injured Chelsea's defender.

And as one of the most precious pieces of cargo aboard England's plane to Krakow on Wednesday, the prospect of losing the 25-year-old Manchester City keeper would have been nigh on unthinkable for Hodgson.

Such is Hart's sporting prowess that he earned accolades as a promising young cricketer with the Worcestershire academy before making his way in football. New Road's loss has been England's gain.

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Hart's measured performance in front of the world's media at England's first press conference following their arrival in Poland was merely a mirror image of the assurance he has brought to his work at international level and as a Premier League title winner at City.

This mature, rounded personality has bought in fully to the philosophy England have brought to Poland, a determination to embrace the culture and history of this proud country while at the same time focusing on the business of football.

Hart is serious about England's aspirations for Euro 2012 - but there was no mistaking how important he felt Friday's emotional visit to Auschwitz will be to the team. This may be a sporting showpiece but this was clearly a crucial element of the overall experience here in Poland.

He said: "You need to experience these things. You need to see these things to appreciate them. It's talked about, you hear words like the Holocaust but you have to find out what they are to help you respect people. It gives you more of a feeling about the history of this world."

Hart is becoming an increasingly impressive figure on and off the field with a demeanour many feel marks him out as a future candidate for the England captaincy.

To watch Hart in close-up action during England's open training session at Wembley on Friday before the 1-0 win against Belgium the following day was to witness someone with a growing command of their craft - and someone who will be invaluable to Hodgson when his Euro 2012 campaign opens against France in Donetsk on Monday.

England's current captain Steven Gerrard admits to marvelling at Hart's work in training, revealing: "He just makes world-class saves, jumps back to his feet and prepares for the next shot like nothing has happened. The rest of us are just looking at him wondering 'what the hell was that?' but it's just normal to him. Amazing."

Hart's rise to prominence now has him regarded as one of the world's goalkeeping elite but there is caution in his message. He says: "I'm not living on some sort of confidence where I think I'm untouchable and I can do whatever I want.

"I don't think you can get too lost in it. I have always been doing all right in football but there have been times when I was left on the bench when Shay Given came to Manchester City. I wasn't cool about it but there is no point getting lost in it all."

Hodgson has been so impressed with Hart that he was even moved to mention him in the same breath as the great World Cup winner Gordon Banks after the win against Belgium. And Hart was outlining his determination to be "the rock that England needs" exactly 42 years to the day since Banks's legendary save from Brazil's Pele in Guadalajara during the Mexico World Cup.

Fabio Capello regarded Hart as too young to risk at the World Cup in South Africa two years ago. The keeper's role was restricted to offering very public consolation and comfort to Robert Green after his error allowed Clint Dempsey to give the USA a crucial draw in England's opening game before a 39-year-old David James completed a tournament that was nothing short of abject misery.

No such debate or uncertainty surrounds the choice of England's goalkeeper in Poland and Ukraine. Hart will be among the first names Hodgson writes down on his teamsheet and one that will give his England team-mates a sense of security about their last line of defence.

Joe Hart

Hart has been described as a future England captain. Photo: Reuters

Hart has the most solid hold on England's number one shirt since his boyhood hero David Seaman made his last appearance for the England team in 2002. And if the former Arsenal keeper prided himself on his "Safe Hands" label then the same applies to the goalkeeper who cost City just £600,000 when he arrived from Shrewsbury as a teenager in May 2006 with only 54 senior games behind him.

He is working closely with England's new goalkeeping coach Dave Watson and Hart said: "Dave wants to do so well. He doesn't see his role as just smashing a few balls at the goalies and then send them into a game. His role is to prepare you and he takes everything personally.

"He really, really takes his role on. He's shown me his plan for the next three weeks. He's already got it ready, how he wants to prepare for this. He's always asking do I need anything - he's just very professional. He takes so much pride in his work and I just feel ready."

Hart accepts England's intention to be seen as "good tourists" with their hotel based in the heart of Krakow, mingling with the locals and attending a reception held by the Mayor on Thursday evening.

It is all a far cry from the isolation of the now infamous "Camp Capello" in Rustenburg, where England were so cut off from South African civilisation that they could have been anywhere.

Hart, however, does not lose sight of what is top of his agenda. He said: "It was fine with the fans at our hotel when we arrived. We weren't mobbed. It was just people showing an interest and I'm sure it will die down.

"I'm here to prepare for a football tournament but if we need to go out I'm sure the lads won't think twice about having a wander. Sometimes you need a change of scenery but we are here to play football."

And if England are to thrive at Euro 2012, it is becoming increasingly clear that their outstanding young goalkeeper is vital to those hopes.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Yep he's important to us. But more important is that we try and score goals, which I fear we may not against France, and get done 1-0. Hope I'm wrong.

  • Comment number 2.

    I reckon we will score 1 but it won't be enough to put out the French, they have far too much skill and composure...

    2-1 France with Carroll scoring the consolation is my bet, already got the money down!

    How does one link to a website on here?? Lol let's have a go

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 3.

    That said it won't be because of a keeper error I highly rate Joey, if he wasn't between the goalposts I would say more like 4-1 lol looking at our back line.

    No Rio instead we have JT ... I can't wait for him to "fall over" when he gets done for pace. Also no Cahill due to jaw fracture is a nightmare; Martin Kelly has some potential though not any we have seen in his league form!

    I think if we stay solid and keep it tight, condense the play we could conceivably knick it 1-0. However my money is firmly on the 2-1 because I doubt we will keep it tight, I reckon lose a goal in the first half near the end, then another in the second half, with Carroll getting a goal somewhere with his head.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] is my betting tips website, I forgot to mention. Last season I did pretty well so I revamped the design and will be covering all the premier league games in the new season as well as Euro2012.

    If you're into betting on football come and have a look!

  • Comment number 4.

    Good to see a blog about football on the eve of the tournament, and good to see something interesting from Mr Mcnutly

    Nothing gives a team confidence like a good keeper. You play more freely. He looks like the best England have had since Shilton.

  • Comment number 5.

    If Carroll doesn't have a good tournament, we haven't got a hope. And let's face it, that is a huge 'if'.

  • Comment number 6.

    Joe Hart is an amazing goalkeeper and will play a massive part in firing England to the quarter finals of Euro 2012, hopefully...

  • Comment number 7.

    Definitely agree with pundits like Redknapp that Hart is the best GK in the world right now- Casillas and Valdes can't pull off the kind of saves he does, quite exceptional. Hey, the Danish team in '92 said Schmeichel was a massive part of their win, so why not Hart? not that we're going to win, but given his age and with AOC, Wilshere etc. the next generation is starting to look quite promising.

  • Comment number 8.

    Best in the world?? Come on. He was pretty shaky at times this season.

  • Comment number 9.

    I didn't notice many blunders? Well anyway, his shot stopping is arguably the best in the world.

  • Comment number 10.

    Here goes the British media again. Haven't you guys learnt anything from some of your failures in the past. Over-hyping players simply puts too much pressure on them it may work to the detriment off the potential they have.

    As a Man United supporter I have seen that wit Phil Jones and David Beckham. Granted Joe Hart has been impressive at times, but let him develop his potential. Do not distract him with tales of him being future England captain (and with the scrutiny that comes with that particular honour, I suspect he has trepidation at that thought), comparison to Gordon Banks, etc. Let him play and develop, be measured in your praise. Please do not destroy this wonderful talent before it fully blossoms.

  • Comment number 11.

    Yeah I think best in the world is a little over the top! I mean he is very very good but best in the world? Too early to give him that accolade...

    I do think he may turn out to be a good enough man to captain England, given time and support - NOT if he is constantly hounded out by the media when he drops a clanger (as he invariably will being as he is young and this is England we are talking about).

    Lol good lad though with good skills. Hope he puts up a good fight against Les Blues because he will need to be at his best if we are to win or even draw!

    My guess would be 2-1 France with Carroll scoring for us inbetween their goals.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 12.

    7

    Hahaha nice one! u got any more?

  • Comment number 13.

    Hart is a good goalkeeper but can a goalkeeper be expected to cover all the goal at once? No.

    Good goalkeepers usually come with good defences. England still think they can emulate the great teams of the world with attacking full backs. If I was England manager, I wouldn't let Cole or Johnson go forward, I'd keep them back. We lost 4 - 1 against Germany because of this in the world cup. 3 German attackers versus 2 England centre backs and you're always going to have trouble.

    Keep the full backs at the back. Let the midfield do the creative stuff. Push forward central defenders for corners.

  • Comment number 14.

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

  • Comment number 15.

    @12 well lots of pundits have said the same and I was just saying I concur with those experts. I really meant in terms of his shot stopping that he's exceptional, but it's all subjective I guess.

  • Comment number 16.

    Joe Hart is the pride of Manchester City.

    Best keeper by a mile in the Premier League and will get much much better.

    The only problem if anything is over confidence...........will be Englands best player at the tournament.

  • Comment number 17.

    He's a rock. But it's a kid's notion to state he's not error prone. His position is just of that nature. Don't let balls in, you're a hero. Let them in, you're zero.

    Green is a top keeper, I never begrudged him. Hart seems even better, quite in line with England's famous stoppers. I only can wish him the best of luck and a successful tournament on his part.

    But obviously, he's only one player and cannot be blamed unless he has a shocker there. 10 more player's have the job of making his day 10 times easier, sadly I don't think they'll manage that.

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    @10

    'Over-hyping players simply puts too much pressure on them it may work to the detriment off the potential they have.'

    You're wrong here. For once, an English player is actually anything but overhyped, this guy is a current title holder. He makes errors, but Valdes I can recall wasn't too great over the 2 legs of the CL semis.

  • Comment number 20.

    @2,3,11,14,18: stop repeatedly spamming, it makes your posts (even more) tedious.

  • Comment number 21.

    @20

    Well, they seem better than you've had to offer so far. But yes, he is link-spamming.

  • Comment number 22.

    All the media-stigma towards that Green incident always makes me laugh.

    I mean, maybe score a few more against 'World Cup holders The US of A'? Maybe that would be a plan?

  • Comment number 23.

    Hardly spam linking! It's called a signature! I put that below all the posts I do wherever I do them. Can't for the life of me figure out why that might upset you though if you don't want to read/click it then don't!

    Spam is something that get's sent personally to you that you never requested. So you can't seriously call other peoples posts that just because they have a signature.


    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] !!!! Lol

  • Comment number 24.

    Unless we beat France I don't think we will go through. I also think France will win the whole thing, they have turned themselves around since the World Cup.

  • Comment number 25.

    Sorry to go slightly off topic but 'England do not fear France - Stewart Downing'. I don't usually do internet speak but i feel in this case the acronym ROTFLMFAO is necessary.

    I'm sure France are petrified of Downing, the English Messi.

  • Comment number 26.

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

  • Comment number 27.

    @22 Totally agree! One bad mistake does not a bad keeper make. England should have been able to put 2 or 3 past USA, and the fact that they couldn't was never Rob Green's fault. He's always seemed pretty decent whenever I've seen him in goal.

    @23 It might not be technically classed as 'spamming' but it is very IRRITATING!!! It's not even the "signature" that's the problem, it's that your whole post is an advert for betting rather than a discussion on football. So just for balance GAMBLING RUINS PEOPLE'S LIVES!!!

  • Comment number 28.

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

  • Comment number 29.

    Anyway, back to the football.

    I'm not completely convinced articles about players being future England captains, on the eve of a tournament, is helpful. Hopefully the players don't bother reading the press because I'm pretty sure this kind of stuff wouldn't be helpful to the harmony of the group whilst they're trying to focus.

  • Comment number 30.

    @CommonSensei - just saw the photo on your blog, and i feel like i must apologise; now i totally understand why you sound like an adolescent nerd :)

  • Comment number 31.

    @30 LOL well I am flattered! Adolescent nerd makes me sound so young :)

  • Comment number 32.

    You know whats more pathetic than a rubbish team at a tournament? A team who's fans CONSTANTLY berate them for no fault of their own. There are some talented english players like Joe Hart in the squad who have hardly kicked a ball in an international tournament, lets give them a chance to show us what they can do before the witch hunt begins.

    The thing that really annoys me is how everyone says "Oh we don't play like Spain (replace Spain with whoever is doing well internationally)" we are ENGLAND, we are a warrior race not built solely on artistry but on grit. We need to play like England not like the Dutch, the Germans or the Spanish if that means its a style that doesn't involve a hundred tippy tap passes before a goal then so be it.

    And even if we arent the most technical, the best defensively, or attractive in attack lets go to Poland and the Ukraine and show that spirit beats style in every sense i. e. Chelsea. let's give our first manager EVER to have previous international experience some support and stop constantly whinging about players who'd rather be in Spain than Poland and the Ukraine.

    And I Don't know about the rest of you but I've never been afraid of the French.

    COME ON ENGLAND!!

  • Comment number 33.

    Also you should stick to one user name, people might start calling you a troll. You do realise of course that if you click a users name you can view all their old posts and see if you are just creating new user names to make yourself look popular. LOL are you doing that?

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • Comment number 35.

    to CommonSensei, its alright mate I didnt even see your post before I made mine.

    I'm just frustrated with people that see players that play for teams like Bayern Munich and automatically assume they are better than our english players that play for Man United, City ect. even though nearly everyone rates the English league as far superior to the Bundesliga just for example.

    I think like in most sports that when you get to International Level that England and other top European Nations are at its far more mental than technical. For example I never thought in a million years that Chelsea this season would win the Champions League but thats why Football is the greatest sport in the world.

    It almost strikes me as funny when commentators such as Waddle (who is a personal hero of mine being a wednesday fan) says we've got no chance when if I remember correctly the performances at the 1990 world cup managed by the famous Bobby Robson were not exactly stunning.

    France are a great team but I think that we are more than capable of beating them. I think its going to be a less than exciting 1-0 to England with a cheeky Welbeck goal after half time ;).

  • Comment number 36.

    @ 0 Phil McNulty | 19:21 UK time, Thursday, 7 June 2012 wrote:

    And if England are to thrive at Euro 2012, it is becoming increasingly clear that their outstanding young goalkeeper is vital to those hopes.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Its an oxymoron we know but for England to win or thrive we need
    Young, Welbeck, & Rooney (when he is available) or Walcott, Gerrard, Carroll et al to SCORE.
    Else what's the point of having the best GK backstopping the nation team when we have an impotent strike force firing blanks?

  • Comment number 37.

    @ 36

    To wit City triumphed at the recent Derby ;)

  • Comment number 38.

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

  • Comment number 39.

    38. At 03:58 8th Jun 2012, CommonSensei wrote:
    For a change it would be amazing to see England beat a fancied European team playing girly pretty football (hehe such a hypocrite I am an Arsenal fan when the seasons on)!
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    Stop being a hopeless girlass ;)

    Be more pragmatic. We can win if we can realize the limited number of scoring opportunities to wit our recent wins.
    Since when do we have the Spanish or Arsenal players to play fancy football?
    Obviously you are hopeless when it comes to football discernment.

  • Comment number 40.

    Patches where are you?
    The horse (or thoroughbred) with no name is now universally touted here as one of the best GK i.e. among the elite.
    Care to join the chorus or are you still clamouring DG as the best sizzling hot plate (i.e. warming up the Spanish bench)?

  • Comment number 41.

    Wake up English fan.Unless you stop overhyping your players you are never gonna win.May be he could be your team's best player but he is nowhere near being world's best goalkeeper.He is not even among top five best goalkeepers in the world.Oh god give some brains to these english fans,journalist & pundits

  • Comment number 42.

    Hart is rock solid 99% of the time, but it could be argued that had he done his job properly and swept up that ball against Belgium, then Cahill wouldn't have been injured. Nevertheless I can't see him committing any major blunders and time soon. He exudes confidence and that can only be good for England, and there's a solid back four in front of him..the script is written ;-)

  • Comment number 43.

    @ 41
    Stop mourinHOing here. Last I heard Hart backstopped City to the PL title and is the recipient of the PL Barclay Golden Gloves title for the past 2 seasons. Can we say that of DG? Cech that!

  • Comment number 44.

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

  • Comment number 45.

    @ CommonSensei
    Are you replying for Patches too?
    I think I might agree with you that the match might end up a stalemate.
    Join the chorus?

  • Comment number 46.

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

  • Comment number 47.

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

  • Comment number 48.

    @47
    Likewise you didn't regarding mine.
    BTW my post @40 about 'joining the chorus' was directed at Patches. Are you Patches? ;)

  • Comment number 49.

    @47

    Sensei did you follow, watch or WITness our recent wins?

    to wit our win over Belgium.

  • Comment number 50.

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

  • Comment number 51.

    @43
    Comparing with Dea Gea(4thchoice goalkeeper of spanish national team) and trying to prove that he is the best! shameful.Does premier league golden glove mean best goalkeeper in the world award? How many times he has ever been in UEFA or FIFA team of the year? He is yet to appear in international tournament.In CL also he has just participated in groupstage for once & not even tasted the knockout round of CL.For me he is yet to participate in a big game.he might have kept more clean sheet but if you judge overall performance in CL,FA cup also he is not even d best among PL goalkeepeersment

  • Comment number 52.

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

  • Comment number 53.

    @50

    OK.

    Right City fan. B0C8D7.

    Mate, I wasn't insulting you nor will I of Patches or anyone here. Please don't take it that way.
    I know you MIGHT be a hopeless football romantic hoping that England will play FANCY or pansy football just like the gunners ;).
    Correct me if I'm wrong.

  • Comment number 54.

    51. At 05:30 8th Jun 2012, SPECIAL 1 wrote:

    To echo Patches famous words 'BEHAVE'.
    Let me augment Sensei post #52

    Backstop City to;
    -FA Cup @ Wembley (shakingmyheadyoucan'trecallhiscontributiontoCity'sFACUPwinafteryearsoffootballdrought)
    -PL title
    -Golden Glove Winners

  • Comment number 55.

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

  • Comment number 56.

    Slightly off topic from the article above. However, it is concerning many posts here are pinning hopes on Carroll as a key to England progressing. I cannot even understand his inclusion in the squad, but to pin hopes on him is ridiculous. A very average player at the moment.

    Back on topic, Hart has become a very strong goalkeeper, but scoring goals is going to get England out of the group, not defending ala "Greece" Crikey, I am worried already at the prospect of England even gaining a point in the group. Hope I am wrong.

  • Comment number 57.

    Morning from Krakow everyone. Euro 2012 starts tonight after a lengthy build up for us here.

    Thanks for all the opinions on Joe Hart - keep them coming and let's have plenty more on how you rate England's chances and who should be in the starting line-up against France.

    Off to England open training this morning so will keep you informed from there.

  • Comment number 58.

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

  • Comment number 59.

    And as Euro 2012 is about to kick-off the best that the BBCs leading football journalist can come-up with is "well our keeper ain't bad."

    Desperate times indeed and what choice does Mr McNulty have but to grasp at straws? Just two weeks to wait now for the return of the crusade on the 'return to grass roots coaching' to begin in earnest. It turns-up every couple of years without fail.

    Watch this space!

  • Comment number 60.

    58.At 06:35 8th Jun 2012, CommonSensei wrote:
    @56

    I think we are all pinning our hopes on Carroll because apart from his stint at Liverpool, the rest of his career he has been excellent.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Yes, I stopped reading at that point. Get back to us when you understand what you're talking about.

    Hint: goals/game ratio prior to Liverpool was 1 in 3...............rubbish for a striker of any quality.

  • Comment number 61.

    @52
    there is no doubt he is good than De Gea.i was just trying to say being better than DG doesn't mean being best in d world.i support ur points

    @54
    For your kind information He won FA cup last season.Except in Pl he didn't did any thing worthy.That golden glove award is also based on no of cleansheet the team has got when a certain goalkeeper is between stick where defenders also play crucial part.I also remember when kompany was not there he was nowhere near best .Remember valdes have also won dat award in spain for 2 years in row(in total he have won it 6 times) but that does not make him better than casillas.You start behaving because claiming hart as best in world is a rude insult to some great goalkeepers who are in d business today

  • Comment number 62.

    @ 58 and 60

    Thanks for the comments. While I do agree on past history as an indicator for future success, I see little in the last 12 months from a striker that has struggled to find the net. He is a tall striker and will pose from that point of view a "threat", it is rare that he puts chances away when they do come, and I believe that we all think that chances are going to be a premium at this tournament. He cannot and will not get 4-5 clear chances which he seems to need to even put 1 away (or get close too).

    Two very disappointing friendlies and it wasn't Carroll who scored. I actually believe there are goals to be had from Walcott, Young and Ox, but they need the chance and they certainly need ball to feet, not hoofed up the pitch.

    As far as the games ahead. Lets start with Sweden. I am a Brit, but lived in Sweden for 10 years now. Countless times, especially in tournaments I have sat in the pub and watched England lose or draw (luckily) with Sweden. I do not rate Sweden, Ibra is a diva, but they are a good squad and can defend well. I think the rot will start with a loss to France. They scored 4 the other day. Fine, Estonia are not great, but England should also have played a lesser team to get some goals, find the net and boost confidence that way. I would agree though, probably 2-1 to France.

    That leaves Ukraine, and well, who knows. By that time I think Englands Euros will be over, but if they need a victory or a draw then Rooney is back and maybe something can be scrapped out. I am a big England fan, will watch every game over the coming 3 weeks as I always do, but I worry that despite nobody expecting England to do anything, it still doesn't mean we will be pleasantly surprised if they do, because on recent evidence, they certainly will not.

  • Comment number 63.

    @60

    Most of those appearances were late substitutions - stats mean nothing without context.

    Carroll's form has been excellent recently - I'm sure he can continue that.

    I reckon Welbeck will start against France however after his good work against Belgium.

  • Comment number 64.

    Yes, formation against France will be a key indicator of what he thinks England are capable of. He will "park the bus", Carroll unfortunately will be alone up front and the other 10 players will sit in their own third for most of the match absorbing pressure and possession that France will inevitably have. Anything less than an exciting, measured attack approach with our quick players (Ox, Walcott, Young) and England might not concede many, but will most certainly lose.

  • Comment number 65.

    @ 63
    Lets get this right, 9 goals all season, one 30min period in the FA cup when he made an impact, which lets be honest, wasn't hard considering the tripe that Liverpool played for 60 mins.

    Where is the evidence that he will carry on "Excellent" form?

  • Comment number 66.

    I am not surprised that the entire world; and his dog (WordsOfWisdom in this case) think that Carroll is a crap player and a crap striker because of his time at Liverpool.

    But you have to try to be a bit more objective when looking at his career stats. Allow me to illuminate:

    39 League appearances for Newcastle 2009-2010 and 17 goals
    19 League appearances for Newcastle 2010-2011 and 11 goals

    So he helped get Newcastle promoted with 17 goals in 39 games, then improved on that the following season with 11 goals in 19 games (though he was injured for much of the campaign).

    For England he has 2 senior caps and has scored once, so that is 1 every 2.

    Being as Liverpool don't play to his style he was never going to go well with them trying to play passing football, it's just not his thing. But given games in a system which favours his syle (Alan Shearer typical 9 type play) he will get goals.

    People also ignore he scored against Man City when Newcastle beat them 3-1 in 2010, and more recently scored the winning FA Cup goal against Everton.

    So ok he isn't going to please everybody but the fact remains, he is capable of scoring goals in a system that favours his style of play. Which unfortunately England will have to be if we are going to have any chance of progressing out of our group.

    Wellbeck, Oxo, Walcott can all score goals from open play and passing moves - but lets be totally honest England are not going to create very many chances of that type. I can really only see goals coming on solo efforts for these players, if we are talking about more than the odd one.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 67.

    Oh yes, sorry, forgot Welbeck there. He should absolutely start without question.

  • Comment number 68.

    @CommonSensei

    I m not a fan of DG nor Man utd.How in earth you found that i support DG & i hate city?Don't you understand english.Why don't i like the team consisting the players ike aguero,silva,tevez,toure.I like Hart.He is young talented but unless he consistently prove himself in big games for some time i will not call him best.I don't like overrating or overhyping the players.If you think only overrating the player is the way to support or like then i m certainly not that type of fan.

  • Comment number 69.

    @ 66, I see that he has played 4 for England (1 sub) and scored 1. Not a 1:2 ratio a suggested.

    When Welbeck scored against Belgium, I instantly thought, "Would Carroll have scored that?" Simple answer, not a chance, he wouldn't have even got close to the ball. Speed and opportunity is Englands only chance, not punting the ball high in the air and hoping for a Carroll head to pop one in.

  • Comment number 70.

    common sensei @66

    Tend to agree with the Carrol comments except for one point, he played in the championship but I do not necessarily believe that is a minus point. He gives us the opportunity of a different approach and on it's day, it is hard to defend against.

    The one point in our favour over recent tournaments, we have a balanced team but I'd expect that from an RH team.

  • Comment number 71.

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

  • Comment number 72.

    @ 71 Yes, I am going to agree with you here. I think we are understanding each other. I also agree this should be a forum to just calmly discuss the issues and not a rant and rave. Some of the posts in these blogs worry me.

  • Comment number 73.

    I agree that Hart is a talented goalkeeper but to call him the 'best' he has to perform in big games for both club and country for some time - not just two seasons. After that he then maybe the best depending on whoever is around at the time.

    But having said I think its good that England has a very reliable goalie going into this tournament and that should give a lot of confidence especially to the defenders.

    I can see England getting something from the France game - at least a draw. For me I think that's the crucial game.

    http://www.fulltimeanalysis.com

  • Comment number 74.

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

  • Comment number 75.

    I believe that Hart is a very good shot stopper, but as an all round keeper he has weaknesses. Mostly distribution and at times hesitant decision making. both these may well improve with age.
    But the poor distribution when you play as Roy Hodgson wants will not be a hinderance. Therefore as long as the back 4 are well organised, which under Roy they will be, and don't lose concentration, which with Terry in the team (or Rio for that matter if he had gone) is sadly quite likely, we should cope relatively well and Hart may well collect the Golden Glove.
    As for the discussions regarding Carroll this player has kept the ball and created pressure on the oppostion far better than pretty well any other forward - Youngs goal agaist Norway is a case in point, not a knock down but a quick and precise lob forward direct to his feet. Compare that to the darling of England, Wayne Rooney, who has had loing spells with out scoring for the national team and is constantly Englands worse performer when it comes to keeping the ball - time and again pressure comes when he needlessly gives the ball away or fails to contol it properly - so Carroll is probably a better bet (but of course as soon as Rooney is availabloe he wil automatically play, the media says so). Judged on goal scoring alone we would play Crouch and Defoe and no one else would get a look in.

  • Comment number 76.

    I admire his attitude. When he was second to Shay Given he knuckled down and trained very hard. From reports I have read he is the first to the training ground and last to leave. That truly is world class. If he is not named captain after Euro 2012 I would be very surprised. But then I am not a fan of Hodgson and he tends to do a few unexpected things. He is in the stature of Schmeicel. He commands the back line and is not over awed by the occasion. As Gerrard stated he makes one save and is up in readiness for the next. I hope I have not talked him up too much and he ends up making a howler similar to that of his boy hood hero Seaman. If England lose I do not think it will be as a result of Hart but more because he is unable to correct all the mistakes of his back line of Jones (Prone to many mistakes with his positional play), Terry (Slow and will be found wanting against Benzema, Ben Arfa), Lescott (Good but makes some mistake, Kompany is not around to clean up). Only world class player in that defence is Ashley Cole (Arsenal fan but he is still quality).

  • Comment number 77.

    Its true that Carroll would have been unlikely to score Welbecks goal - he would have hit a hard low shot if anything - however if Carroll had played I think that kind of chance would have been created more readily from knock downs an swell as knock through's. Thus play Carroll and Welbeck rather than the 4411 with Young! (or Rooney).

  • Comment number 78.

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

  • Comment number 79.

    Poster 78. I agree that Rio should have been ahead of Terry if the choice was to take only one. This is one matter my opinion of Hodgson is very low. If we have a poor tournament I will not be sad to see him go. You are a fan of his and I respect that but by choosing Terry to me is an insult.

    That said I do see a totally defensive pattern employed but I do see France winning by a larger margin that the quoted 2-1 if England let in an early goal. Unless you allow Gerrard freedom I do not see much in the way of opportunities being created. Maybe Hodgson will surprise us all and attack and give the French a fright. I do not rate the French defence. There are holes but Hodgson will not take a risk to exploit it. England will be home soon. Unfortunate but cannot say I will feel sorry for the FA or Hodgson when the media tear into them.

  • Comment number 80.

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

  • Comment number 81.

    Everything I've seen of Joe Hart tells me that he is already in the same league as Banks and Shilton - if not already better; I'm struggling to think of a weakness. Out of England keepers with over 15 appearances, his clean sheet record is miles ahead of the others - 73%, (Banks 48%, Shilton 52.8). Admittedly he hasn't had to endure a dreadful set of England performances at a major tournament yet, so that will decline. More stats here: http://www.englandfootballonline.com/TeamGkprs/GkprsPerClnShts.html

    I like the approach Hodgson has taken with the squad, possibly not the best individuals - but each area of the pitch has combinations of players who have played together at club level. Going for these club relationships should see us do well, I don't think we'll set the world alight with Brazil-esque football, but sure as hell should be harder to beat this year.

    If the country needs to sacrifice 'world class' players for partnerships and understanding, I'm all for it. Sure Rio is an awesome player, and I'm a huge fan, but unless you pair him with Jones, he's the odd one out. Terry/Cole/{was going to be Cahill} - Jagielka/Lescott - Lescott/Hart - Rooney/Welbeck - Gerrard/Downing - Gerrard/Carroll, etc, etc. - these are all pairings that work better than say if you put Lampard/Downing, Rooney/Defoe, etc.

    Quietly optimistic here - with a strong back five commanded by Hart, we'll be hard to break down. The problem for me is at the other end of the pitch with only four strikers - but even then, I think we might be surprised if Hodgson plays Carroll/Defoe or even Carroll/Welbeck for the first two games - I think the dilemna will be "Do I pick Rooney for the 3rd game & beyond?" if those other pairings are firing.

    Of course I might be wrong, the crowd will throw bananas at our players, one of our key players will be sent off and send us out the tournament, a goal that never was will stand against us, a goal scored by us will not count due to some infringement that only the referee saw, etc, etc. ;)

  • Comment number 82.

    @76

    You say Terry is slow then suggest to take Ferdinand ahead of him!

    Ferdinand can only play when he has a defender ahead of him - Vidic usually has this role. England aren't going to play that way, so his presence is pointless.

  • Comment number 83.

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

  • Comment number 84.

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

  • Comment number 85.

    There's so much doom and gloom surrounding England and very few giving them a chance against the French. The one area I worry about is the central defensive partnership but get that right and England will be hard to beat.

    I don't know how many have actually watched France play but the one thing they will not do is alter their play, no matter what happens during the game.

    They will have more of the ball, that's acceptable, it's where they have it that counts. When we last played France, we pressed them higher than necessary [even in their half] and they played through us, Roy's team is different they concede the ground and don't press until the opposition is halfway in England's half.

    It could be argued that it is a dangerous game to play but it also stretches the French back line and we need discipline from our front players at that time, we must never have ten men behind the ball. We will not create that many openings but when we do, one will have to be taken.

  • Comment number 86.

    My Terry comment was in response to Sensei, but he has been well moderated out it seems. You should probably remove the web address from your posts.

  • Comment number 87.

    I guess my Terry comment was too "off topic" just have to wait for that blog in July then.

  • Comment number 88.

    Quality goalkeeper and the first since Seaman at his peak where I'm not scared half to death when he's called upon. Whenever I've seen him make a mistake he doesn't go to pieces or try to make up for it by coming for crosses he has no right to make etc but just continues with his normal game.

    Best keeper in the Premiership for me and if he has a good tournament I think England may have a decent one as well.

  • Comment number 89.

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

  • Comment number 90.

    Hart is becoming an increasingly impressive figure on and off the field with a demeanour many feel marks him out as a future candidate for the England captaincy.
    --------------------
    Just like Jack Wilshere was earmarked for captaincy for his good showing last season and Phil Jones too after 4 good games for Man Utd early in this season. When will UK media learn? Who is captain hardly matters... what matters in the players performance on the pitch.

  • Comment number 91.

    @ 81. Two things.

    1. Better than Banks and Shilton and using clean sheet stats when Hart has only played 18 games is a ridiculous use of statistics. He is very good and will be key for England, but gibe it time before you compare to the greats.

    2. Club combinations of players only work if the players play well for their club. 6 Liverpool players in a squad of 23, doesn't mater how you combine that, it is going to fail.

    I was moderated out with my France prediction there, but I reiterate, 2-0, 3-0 to France with Ribery and Benza to bag.

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 89 - actually, that is not true. 2 years is the sentence for what he is charged for. racially-aggravated public order offense - crime and disorder act 1998

  • Comment number 93.

    I can see Hart being a future England captain, when he is around 30.
    I don't think that Hodgson should be comparing him with Banks, not now not ever. Banks, like Bobby Moore, stands alone in his position in the pantheon of the English game. Nobody should be saddled with such a comparison.
    I think it is more relevant to say that Hart is much like Iker Casillas at a similar age. Let's hope he can go on and have an international career that is just as successful one day.

  • Comment number 94.

    How I wish my team Arsenal had such a consistent and reliable GK. Hart has matured and I think it is his time to shine. He has good temperament and leadership qualities. He is truly a future England captain! Last season he was in my considered view the best GK. It is his chance to put the icing on the cake by doing well in Poland-Ukraine.
    As we sit back to watch lets hope that racism will not steal the show and obscure the whole purpose of this tour- sportsmanship.

  • Comment number 95.

    Well written blog Phil.
    So far Joe Hart has been fantastic.
    Wishing the young goal tender and his
    England team mates all the very best.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 96.

    andnay @92
    actually, that is not true. 2 years is the sentence for what he is charged for. racially-aggravated public order offense - crime and disorder act 1998
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I see you trawled the internet.

    If you had read what I wrote, i stated it was rare to have such a sentence, not impossible.

  • Comment number 97.

    All credit to Dave Watson. Hart, Foster, Butland.

    Bad day for the (real) Blues today but Watson should be acknowledged.

  • Comment number 98.

    @ 96 - I guess we both did. I actually am not a law professor so having help on some issues is what the internet is there for.

  • Comment number 99.

    You know England might actually win this tournament.

    We are led by a coach who for all his admirable decency has won nothing outside the Scandanavian small leagues and outdoes Capello in his 4-4-2 tactical rigidity. We have a squad full of Liverpool players who successfully underwhelmed us this season inspite of Kenny's inspiration. We have had the spine of the team ripped to pieces with injuries to Cahill, Barry and Lampard. Defoe has unfortunately had to go home, albeit temporarily. Rooney is not initially available.

    We might actually win it!

  • Comment number 100.

    andnay @98

    For my sins, I am legally qualified, my field was social law [national & local government] but I am now happily retired.

    You and I will undoubtably not agree with the eventual outcome but we will have to accept it.

 

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