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Hodgson begins the long road to Rio

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Phil McNulty | 23:01 UK time, Thursday, 6 September 2012

Chisinau, Moldova

England's road to Rio starts on Dacia Boulevard and in Chisinau's Zimbru Stadium - compact and as far removed from the legendary Maracana as manager Roy Hodgson is likely to get.

The 10,400-capacity stadium was completed in 2006 at a cost of less than £9m and it is in these surroundings that England's campaign to reach Brazil in two years' time starts on Friday evening.

Euro 2012 was regarded in some circles as Hodgson's "free hit" after arriving in the job on the eve of the tournament and with limited time to put his own stamp on the team Fabio Capello left behind.

In reality there is no such thing as a free ride with England but there is still a sense that after Euro 2012 and the relative respectability of a quarter-final exit on penalties to Italy this is where Hodgson's long-term work starts.

Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson and his players will face a hostile atmosphere in the compact Zimbru Stadium. Image: PA

And this will be work at the coal face for Hodgson and England, irrespective of Moldova's current standing of 48th out of 53 teams in Europe.

The Zimbru Stadium has an air of an environment that will be intimidating by kick-off time late on Friday evening here in Chisinau. The sight of England's backroom staff prodding warily at a patchy, uneven six-yard box confirms suspicions that conditions on the pitch will be as testing as those off it.

Ion Caras's side have a reputation for stubborn defensive resistance but in reality there can be no excuses if England do not fly out of Moldova in the early hours of Saturday morning with the first three points of their World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign safely secured.

England's players have already captured the imagination of Chisinau's football fanatics. Supporters wearing a variety of Premier League colours milled around the team hotel and when captain Steven Gerrard left the rooms staging the pre-match media conferences he was greeted by a group of fans singing a familiar Anfield anthem - with expletives loudly and boisterously belted out in Moldovan accents.

And as England trained under floodlights in the Zimbru Stadium on Thursday, fans gathered to peer through gates to catch a glimpse of their training routines as lights flickered on in the grey tower blocks overlooking the pitch as the session got under way. England are always an attraction and Chisinau is no exception.

The aptly-named "Roy's Bar" has attracted plenty of custom and Hodgson will be hoping he is toasting victory at the end of a game he hopes provides the perfect starting point for the journey to South America.

Hodgson was in no mood to regard England's campaign in Poland and Ukraine as that "free hit" - but he understands the special attraction of taking the team to a World Cup in Brazil, the country that has written so many of the tournament's most colourful and successful chapters.

He said: "In some ways I could understand it if the Euros had been seen as a 'free hit' but I was quite nervous, quite concerned about the first game I took charge of in Norway so I didn't see it that way.

"I don't know that there is any such thing as a 'free hit' when you are managing England. If I had some I am happy to have had them but I am fully aware the task of qualifying is the all-important one.

"A World Cup in Brazil has a slightly greater allure than World Cups in some of the other countries where it has been held. We know what we have to do and we are going to try and do it. But you don't get what you want by talking about it, you have to do it.

"You have to be good enough. We accept that but we're an experienced group of players, some up towards 100 caps, so they don't need reminding there are plenty of banana skins out there and no free hits. If you don't hit that level you'll be criticised."

And as England trained, the scene was a far cry from a room in Rustenberg's Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus and the day after the World Cup exit in South Africa 2010 when Capello talked of moving on a generation.

In Chisinau, England's midfield may rely heavily on 32-year-old Gerrard, Frank Lampard at 34 and and Michael Carrick, 31. John Terry will be 32 in December - not exactly "Dad's Army" and Hodgson has no intention of being ageist simply to make a point.

He said: "Am I concerned? No - otherwise I would be making the decision not to use anyone who is 30 when the World Cup comes along and speculating on the young ones getting us to Brazil. The first thing we have to do is qualify, albeit that many people think that's a simple task.

"We don't believe that. We have to play well to qualify and to do that I need all they players at my disposal who can get us there, then we'll see.

"I don't write anyone off on the grounds of age. I let them write themselves off in terms of performances."

It was an argument that brought instant agreement from Gerrard as he sat alongside his manager. He said: "You should judge players on performances. It doesn't matter how old they are. The manager knows who's in form and who's playing well, who deserves to be picked.

"I remember reading all the journalists just before the Euros who wanted Paul Scholes back in the set up and he was 37 at the time. That gives me a few more years. I judge a player on what I see with my eyes, not his age."

And in Chisinau on Friday, Gerrard will hope to take the first steps on a journey he hopes will end in Brazil and a final flourish to his England career.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Stevie G says "You should judge players on performances". How the hell did he get selected, way past his best. I might have a couple of quid on Moldova.

  • Comment number 2.

    And I thought he was talking about Ferdinand.

  • Comment number 3.

    This blog is full of the classic cliche. I am suprised not to see a quote along the lines of, 'we will let our feet do the talking'

  • Comment number 4.

    Re feet do the talking:

    I have athletes foot, but I cannot run.

    My feet don't talk but they are certainly the center of conversation when I take my clogs off.

  • Comment number 5.

    Same old story, the battle to qualify starts here, for god's sake Roy, it's a gimme, we are supposed to qualify, FIFA have ensured that with the seedings.

    For once i'd like to be shocked by England doing something that we have not seen for years, string two or three matches together, where everyone can say we played well. I'd even settle for 'they looked promising'

  • Comment number 6.

    colin-p @4

    Re feet do the talking:

    I have athletes foot, but I cannot run.

    My feet don't talk but they are certainly the center of conversation when I take my clogs off.

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

    You sound like Roy's kind of player, expect a call in the morning.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hodgson could not hack it at a championship club like Liverpool.

    Hodgson is out of his depth here. Mid table clubs and tin-pot Johnnies is his limit.

    Hodgson is another example of a cheap option similar to Rodgers at LFC.

    Ingerlund are doomed.

  • Comment number 8.

    The problem with using over-30 players for qualification is the age they will be by the time of the finals. Lampard will be 36, older than Beckham was when the media was writing him off (mistakenly in my opinion) and Gerrard 34. When do the young players that we will need to replace them in 2014 get their experience in the interim?

    The beginning of a campaign is the best time to cull older players and let the younger players play and gel. If they fail to qualify they will be no worse than their predecessors, who have not really done anything to be proud of. They've had their chance now it's time to move aside. If the younger players were to qualify, by that time they would be a solid team that knows each other well.

  • Comment number 9.

    A Gooner talking sense.

    You dont get that very often, but well said.

  • Comment number 10.

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

  • Comment number 11.

    Was the "Long Road to Rio" a Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Film?

    I seem to remember there were a couple of comedians in the film but there are a lot more comedians in the Ingerlund footie team sequel.

  • Comment number 12.

    Dan -

    What are you on?

    I would like to get hold of some of that.

    Careful you don't get sectioned.

  • Comment number 13.

    Stop talking like your the oracle of football and get over yourself. Stop moaning and give a manager a chance, all i'm saying.

  • Comment number 14.

    dan @10

    Rodgers is one of the few managers in the premier league brave enough to try and embrace the advances being made in continental Europe (mainly Spain) and Liverpool should count themselves lucky to have him.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'd agree with that sentiment if Rodgers was trying something new, that could possibly work but all he is doing is attempting to copy a style which will not work at LFC.

    I am not speaking of results but Rodgers hairbrained scheme so far has meant he set his team up to play in exactly the same way against WBA, City and Arsenal.

    The problem, the Baggies pressed the LFC defence and created havoc. City did not press and allowed LFC to play. Arsenal played their game similar to what Rodgers wants to play but in reality LFC are light years from the Arsenal way and it showed.

    Common sense would tell you a team has to adjust to certain opponents. If you want proof the ask any Arsenal supporter because their team played the same style for years and got nowhere with it. But even Arsenal have started to change and vary their playing style.

    Top managers do not copy they innovate.

  • Comment number 15.

    @ 8

    I agree with your point completely but I think that the younger players have to prove on a consistent basis that they are better players. Unfortunately a lot of the younger players aren't doing that.

    There are some that look good everytime they play (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stands out at the moment) but perhaps aren't etting enough game time in the big games to really make themselves noticed.

    Personally I don't think Hodgson is the man to bring the youngsters through. The fact that he has said that Lampard, Gerrard and Terry will continue to play because of what they have achieved (which at international level is.....NOTHING) shows me that he is desperate to keep these players on board no matter what the youngsters do.

  • Comment number 16.

    Colin_P @7

    Hodgson could not hack it at a championship club like Liverpool.

    Hodgson is out of his depth here. Mid table clubs and tin-pot Johnnies is his limit.

    Hodgson is another example of a cheap option similar to Rodgers at LFC.

    Ingerlund are doomed.

    Sorry, have to take issue with this. For the first time in a long time, we have an articulate, thoughtful, intelligent, English manager who quite clearly cares a great deal not only about his national side, which he takes great pride in managing, but has plans in the footing to not only use the players which are of use in the present (the Carricks, the Gerrards etc) but has one eye on the future. I for one am extremely glad that we have such a manager, who is wrongly accused of being out of depth (though good enough to manage Inter Milan and other foreign countries as well as do a stirling job at WBA) Are we seriously going to keep doing this? Are we not eternally bored and sick and tired of the appointments that out of touch big wigs think that England fans want? Are we not going to put our full support behind somebody that fully deserves it in every respect? How are we ever expected to achieve anything when we criticise our own from every quarter? Roy Hodgson had a sticky start at Liverpool, granted. It's not the first time that that has happened to a manager. Look at Alex Ferguson in his infancy at Manchester United. He was one game away from the sack and now he is the most revered manager in English football. Why? Because he was given time to mould and change his team. Something that managers in the modern era are not afforded. I think it is all too easy for people to judge and belittle without actually taking into account what is important to our national team and its progression. There are so many factors involved that simple armchair pundits do not take into account, and if they did and if they showed one iota of the national pride and spirit of togetherness that we not only need but deserve, then it would make the job of building something good and something to be truly proud of, that much easier

  • Comment number 17.

    Oracle here:

    I wouild like Hodgson to do well, but I am fed up of new Ingerlund managers coming along and picking the same dross as their predecessors. I don't think Hodgson is the man to do that.

    'Arry' should have got the Ingerlund job.

    He could have spent a lot of time out of the country for tax reasons.

    I think he might have been more inclined to bleed the younger players.

    As for Rodgers, he will be back handing out water bottles somewhere before too long.

  • Comment number 18.

    @ 8

    I agree with your point completely but I think that the younger players have to prove on a consistent basis that they are better players. Unfortunately a lot of the younger players aren't doing that.

    There are some that look good everytime they play (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stands out at the moment) but perhaps aren't etting enough game time in the big games to really make themselves noticed.

  • Comment number 19.

    @14

    Fair comment, I completely agree that teams should adjust their tactics for different opposition, I just can't stand doom-mongers like colin here, saying a manager is useless after 3 tough games, when he is trying to implement a style that takes some adjusting to. I agree that Liverpool's players have looked a bit like rabbits in the headlights in some periods of their first games, but surely that is bound to happen when you bring in a new style to a team?

    Just a counter point though, doesn't Sir Alex pretty much play the same, direct 442 with traditional wingers in nearly every game. Seems to work for them, and when he changed it bringing in Kagawa to play as more of a wide playmaker against Southampton they looked completely lost until they brought on Nani and Scholes and reverted to using full-on wingers.

  • Comment number 20.

    dan @19

    Just a counter point though, doesn't Sir Alex pretty much play the same, direct 442 with traditional wingers in nearly every game. Seems to work for them
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That is a point that has been made to me many times and far more just recently.

    The answer is SAF plays a style that can steamroller most EPL teams, they also have the quality to do it. There is a massive difference between that and what LFC are trying to do.

    Heres an example of what top international managers have to do and it does not matter what era they managed in.

    Ramsey tried 3 different wingers in the 3 group games in 66, he realised we could not get anywhere playing the way we did. His answer, don't play with wingers [the pundits and everyone thought he was insane] Result a WC win.

    Del Bosque, was missing Villa at the Euros, the usual answer would be to get someone to fill the role. Not, Del Bosque, he decided to play with no striker [that is unheard of] but he made it work by adjusting the midfield slightly, that is remarkable and the result Euros won.

    Those 2 managers are split by 46 years but both defied convention and found a way to play and be successful. It is called innovation.

  • Comment number 21.

    The English youth are looking promising, i just hope they can get a chance before the world cup to show their potential. you can almost name a young english player who is showing promise in every poistion, and hopefully they will be hungrier for success than what i have seen in the past few years. if i see rooney in an england jersey again i will be bitterly dissapointed.
    i also hope huddlestone can get more first team football. is the average carrick (who is vastly hyped by the media) can get into the team then i dont see why huddlestone cant? and with wilshere, mceachran, cleverley, rodwell and players like barkley and albrighton, sterling etc. there seems to be a few options in the near future.

    also i am wondering why hodgson doesnt open his eyes and look at players from other teams like swansea, stoke, sunderland etc. if its all about performance. some of the english players in those teams are playing out of their skin

  • Comment number 22.

    @ 19

    I think what Londoner is trying to say is that unlike Man Utd, Chelsea, City etc. Liverpool don't seem to have a plan B. The style of football is the same no matter the opposition and that Rodgers need to be able to adapt the style of play depending on who the opposition are.

    I agree with Londoner to an extent, but I also think that Rodgers needs to get plan A organised properly before you even start thinking about the alternatives. It is no good haing a plan B if plan A still hasn't been set in place. imo.

  • Comment number 23.

    Dear Dan,

    For the record:

    1. I am not a doom monger (not quite, but I am learning),
    2. I am not a delude (LFC supporter).
    3. I would like to see Rodgers remain at Liverpool forever (at least until they enter the Nothern premier league or whatever it is called these days). I had hoped KK would have stayed longer, but life is a bitch sometimes.
    4. Rodgers was useless before he got to LFC, Bottle boy at Chelski, sacked at Reading, Inherited at team at Swansea and now to cap it all take the deludes down into the championship.
    5, bhappy days

  • Comment number 24.

    @ 21

    if i see rooney in an england jersey again i will be bitterly dissapointed.
    __________________________________________________

    Prepare to be disappointed because Hodgson has already proven that he will not leave Rooney out if available to play. Even if he doesn't fit into the team.

  • Comment number 25.

    @16

    I completely concur, were being typically English and moaning about what we have when we've wanted it.

    At the end of qualifying we can start a true critique of the Hodgson era, but until then you cannot.

    He's a manger who has had 7 games (5 of them being wins)...

    @Colin P - Why can't you spell 'England'? Is phonetics your strong point!? Or am I getting old...just illiterate!?

  • Comment number 26.

    Liverpaul85 @24

    I was having a beer tonight with a mate [an Evertonian] and he reminded me of what i said immediately Rooney got his international suspension, meaning he would miss the first 2 games of the Euros. I was adamant that he should not be selected for the Euros.

    My view was, he was the same as an injured player because he could not play, I also thought at the Euros, if we were still in it why change a team to accomodate Rooney, plus if we were out, then he would not count anyway. I also thought he would never be match fit after the lay off.

    I say this because, taking him confirmed to me he was an automatic pick, no matter what the situation was.

  • Comment number 27.

    @24

    have already accepted the fact that he will feature for years to come, not particularly happy about it.

    also forgot to mention a couple of players from west ham who are playing great football who are always being overlooked

    tomkins looks like a great centreback and may be the future

  • Comment number 28.

    wobbly womble @25

    He's a manger who has had 7 games (5 of them being wins)...
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That's a stat. But like most stats they do not reveal the true story.

    Under Erickson, Capello [most successful England manager ever in terms of win %] Hodgson, they could all win games except for the ones that mattered.

    Yes impressive stats until you actually watch the team play, where it is painful and obvious that we as a team, have little chance of beating a top 10 team in a tournament.

    I always liken it to a racehorse who wins 10 claimers on the trot, then meets group horses and is totally outclassed and embarassed.

  • Comment number 29.

    I don't see the point of taking Lampard. Bluntly, he's part of the group that's failed these past 10 years, plus we know now he and Stevie G can't play together, and since Gerrard is captain that means no Lamps, for all those reasons. He'll be 36 in Brazil; he won't be able to play his aggressive way in the heat there at that age.

    Likewise Terry, whose form has dipped abysmally in the last 2 years, for club and country. He was good at the end of last season, but that's it, and for me the plus there is outweighed by the baggage - an impending FA tribunal, after having twice (twice!) been sacked as captain. What else can he get away with before he's finally dropped?

    It's time for some younger guys. England need a few wise heads to steady the ship, but Gerrard, Rooney, Johnson and Cole can do that. Otherwise the likes of Cleverley, Welbeck, Adam Johnson, Sturridge and Phil Jones ought to be in - because they ought to be able to qualify from this group, and the experience is vital. The old guard failed when at their peak: they'll fail again now they're in decline. England needs a new start.

  • Comment number 30.

    @ 26

    I agree. There should be no player who is an automatic pick. A player should always have to earn his place.

    Messi is probably an automatic pick at Barca, at present, however if his standards drop he could easily be left out.

    Rooney is certainly no Messi and after he was suspended should have been left at home. How would we have all felt if Hodgson had taken Darren Bent even though he was injured, just on the off chance that he might get back in time to play in the final if we got to it.

  • Comment number 31.

    Dear Colin, please stop replying to my posts, I am not posting to you because rather than discuss you reply with (at least i'm guessing they're supposed to be) 'funny' responses.

    @Londoner in exile - I think Liverpaul85 has put it better than I managed or would ever manage to at this hour. If he wants his team to play a short passing, play out from the back, team pressing style he has to get them to play like that week in, week out, in the hope that they will gradually adapt and fulfill these tactics competently.. You're right, Sir Alex's style is good enough to steamroller most premier league teams, but he has had them playing the same way for decades, and has handpicked every player in his squad personally, so it is not a surprise they are so adept at putting his tactic to work. Rodgers, on the other hand, has inherited Kenny's mess of a squad (although I think the transfer dealings have done little to improve it).

    I honestly believe that once he has got his own team together and gelled, and with 10-15 games experience of playing the 433 short passing system, we will start to see some consistent results and quality performances from Liverpool, and perhaps the chance of finishing in the top 4 in season 13/14. In the end, we'll just have to wait and see...

  • Comment number 32.

    @29
    very true, i am all for youth but only if they deserve the spot.
    you could argue that lampard is playing great for chelsea (even though as a chelsea fan i will admit he is suspect when in an england jersey) but as you rightly put he is clearly on the wrong age of 30. It seems that hodgson is afraid to try something new and to shake up the camp by dropping the older heads who have failed time and time again.
    i would love to see players like shawcross & tomkins a chance. i would love to see sturridge given a chance and i would definitely love to see the midfield changed.

    gerrard is not the same man he used to be, terry is not the same man he used to be, lampard is old, carrick is dreadfully average, rooney does not give a rats ass. i do not know how the whole world can see this yet the managers pick these players time and time again

  • Comment number 33.

    @ Dan And Londoner

    As much as I love talking about my club, it does frustrate me on these boards that it takes less than 15 posts before the subject of Liverpool and Rodgers comes up, even when there is nothing in the article to move us in that direction!

    For what its worth, Dan, I am probably more able than you at this hour due to the fact I work nights so have only been up for about 7hours! It's basically just after lunchtime for me mate.

    Have to agree with you regarding SAF/Man Utd in comparison to LFC. He's had 20 odd years to develop a style and has completely integrated that style into the club, which is exactly what Londoner and I were discussing on the last blog. That Rodgers will need to change the whole club ethos at Liverpool before we really see the benefits of his play.

  • Comment number 34.

    Also totally agree about England so far in terms of the way we have played. We might have won 5 of 7 games, but having watched all of them, I cannot say I have been left at all satisfied by any of the performances. I find myself wondering whether we will manage 50%+ possession against Moldova. Sure we will win, but i'm not expecting any fireworks and would consider putting money on a 1-0 victory, with the goal coming from the Moldovan 'keeper kicking the ball into the back of Gerrard's head and rebounding in.

  • Comment number 35.

    @Liverpaul - True dat, there really is no reason to discuss Rodgers and Liverpool on this board, I blame Colin for bringing the whole thing up.

    Must be nice to be a fan of the most talked about club in the premier league though! I wish that my beloved saints were discussed as often!

  • Comment number 36.

    @35
    to make your wish come true, how good is rickie lambert! and buying gaston ramirez is a major coup

  • Comment number 37.

    @ 32

    Very much agree, although I think that Cahill and Jagielka are both still young enough and good enough to be picked over players such as Shawcross. I think Tomkins at West Ham looks pretty decent and there are a few others in the ranks that could develop in to good players.

    I do think that there needs to be a few wise heads in the camp still and maybe Lampard and Gerrard should still be involved in the squad to help the other players along, without actually playing much. If at all. I'd like to see Rodwell, Cleverly and Oxlade-Chamberlain given more chances to shine.

    I'd also like to see us play with a defined style. Wheether that be 4-4-2 with quick wingers firing in crosses for our poaching strikers. Or 4-3-3 with short sharp passing. Or some other style. And then fit the players most suited to the style and not just the best players and then squeeze them into a formation.

  • Comment number 38.

    @ 35

    Just to keep the dream alive.....

    Is Nigel Adkins the man to take the Saints forward? Do you think Saints have the players to keep them in the PL?

  • Comment number 39.

    @37 of course you need the wiser heads, but you dont want to pick a player to play just because hes been there done that. you want someone who can perform when asked. i also believe that a mix of youth and experience is essential however if the experienced players arent up to it then you cant rely on them only for the experience

  • Comment number 40.

    dan @31

    I hope i am wrong about Rodgers because if he cracks it, then they would be great to watch as well.

    But that passing game people speak of is a bit of a red herring.

    Take Barca, the hardest working team i've seen without the ball [that is where they expend their energy] they press in every area to win the ball back. But when they have the ball they use very little energy. Consequently because they have possession for long periods [often 65/70%] it is economical.

    The other point is Barca have exceptional players, it would never work with good standard players.

    Plus our football here is not geared to patient play, Arsenal [they play expending energy throughout the game] and their failures testify to that.

    To ask our national team to play the same way is pointless, we have to find a way of playing, that threatens the opposition when we do have the ball.

  • Comment number 41.

    @40
    hood ball. its worked for 50 years

    ..oh wait

  • Comment number 42.

    *hoof ball
    its too early for me

  • Comment number 43.

    liverpaul85 and dan

    This is one blog where i think Rodgers is maybe a good example to use.

    It is obvious England need to change, Rodgers is attempting to do just that by enforcing change at LFC.

    I think the only difference is LFC recognise and are willing to let Rodgers take the plunge to try and go forward. Yet England although most recognise the need for change, they are in fact unwilling to try anything new.

    The arguement for England is that it can't be done through a qualifying stage, that is nonsense, qualifying should be a given no matter what for England because the opponents are poor. Rodgers on the other hand is facing competitive opposition week in week out and it is going to be very hard to get results and change at the same time.

  • Comment number 44.

    Usually, a national side is made-up of the best players of the top teams of a given league (e.g. in Germany or Spain).

    As the top teams of the English Premier League use relatively few players of English nationality, the England manager obviously has relatively few good-quality players to choose from - consequently the English manager cannot afford to disregard the old / experienced players because without them he may loose the game ...

    Remember that the teams assembled in a qualifying round constitute mostly weak teams, except one or two that indeed do qualify ... What would the England supporters say, if the England manager would make daring moves when picking his team that then lead to England missing out on the World Cup Tournament in Brazil ?

  • Comment number 45.

    @ Liverpaul and The_Boss -

    Thanks, my dreams have come true!

    Rickie is indeed a quality player. He's often documented as a big powerful target man, but I think almost as big a strength in his game is his footballing intelligence and his awareness of those around him. I've heard people say he's not good enough for the premier league because he doesn't have any pace, but having seen him many times, he is certainly no Emile Heskey and can actually reach quite a high speed when there is a goal or an opportunity to shoot as reward for his extra exertion of energy. I can see him scoring at least 10 probably more like 15 goals for us this season.

    On the topic of Adkins, he is definitely the man to take us forward, at least in the short term. We may not stay up this season (although I remain convinced that we will), but Adkins is the glue that binds our team together, and if we were to lose him, I would happily (or unhappily, should I say) put my life savings on us falling through the trap door. We have the players to keep us up. Schneiderlin was superb against United, and really proved himself as the top player he has always promised to be. Lallana is a different class and I can honestly say I have never enjoyed watching a saints player as much since the days of Le God. Our key problems lie in our defence, and especially in Jose Fonte and Danny Fox, who unfortunately are not Premier league quality. Although if anyone can get them playing like premier league players, it is Nigel Adkins.

  • Comment number 46.

    stanhopeus @44

    ... What would the England supporters say, if the England manager would make daring moves when picking his team that then lead to England missing out on the World Cup Tournament in Brazil ?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'd say at last we have a manager willing to try to take England forward, instead of taking us to a tournament, only to be outplayed by teams that we should be competing with.

    Without 'DARING' we should all know by now what the outcome will be anyway.

  • Comment number 47.

    Dan @45

    a fair assessment of the saints.

    I'd agree Fonte is the weakest link and such an important area. Against Utd when they led near the end, they looked like a team who did not quite know what to do. That has a lot to do with the lack of experience as a team, at that level.

  • Comment number 48.

    @43
    i would personally love to see something new happen in the england squad. whats the point of qualifying if your team is going to get embarrassed at the cup?

    @45
    i feel a bit of wolves and blackpool with the saints side. without mick wolves were dismal and i suspect without halloway blackpool will be poor. ontop of that the team plays cracking football against the big teams but just falls short at the end. i hope saints can get a few good performances soon to keep up their confidence, stay up and kick retirement home QPR out of the prem

  • Comment number 49.

    @48 - The_Boss

    Me too, of all the teams QPR would be my favoured team to go down. The thing that got me was Hughes last season after the city game saying they will never be in that situation again. I don't mind managers having confidence (I couldn't, being an Adkins fan!), but way to set yourself up for a fall!

  • Comment number 50.

    @45 - Londoner

    It's sad but Fonte will have to be replaced, hopefully the new boy Yoshida will be a revelation. To be fair to Jose he didn't play too badly for most of the game against United. Unfortunately for us, though, football is a 90 minute game and his tired defending in the last 10 minutes cost us.

  • Comment number 51.

    "I don't write anyone off on the grounds of age. I let them write themselves off in terms of performances."

    Spot on. This is a representative team, so tournament football, not a club team. There's a big difference.

  • Comment number 52.

    @49
    oh dont get me started on all highes has said. loved him as a player, hate him as a manager
    he stood up for tevez after the debacle in munich all because they have the same grease ball of an agent. that on top of him leaving fulham for a club with more ambition (didnt know hughes won anything as a manager to merrit such a thing) and then ending up at QPR. wow great ambition

    @51
    that is exactly what it should be all about
    how ever how many of the current england squad deserve to be there based on performance i can think of 3 or 4 players

  • Comment number 53.

    bengate

    If you want change, surely Gerrard, johnson and to some extent ashely cole shouldn't play.

  • Comment number 54.

    Colin_P should take up a career writing complete dribble for politicians! anyone with his ability to look more and more of a complete fool with every post is a master. congratulations colin your ability to write complete dribble is unmatched you are this years winner of the golden douche!!!congratulations douche your dreams have come true!!!!

  • Comment number 55.

    oh is dis bloke oh can reeed an string a sentance 2geva, sounds dodgy if u ask me e must be a forrin prete
    din 2 be englsh. get in out, he is outbov is depth !

    e culdnt ack it at Liverpool either

  • Comment number 56.

    Fifas World rankings system is a joke. Moldova arent the 5th or 6th worst team in europe. They have had some notable scalps. And england arent the 4th best team in the world either. I predict a loss for england. That should encourage roy to ditch the old guard and blood the youngsters. Although saying that i think he should choose 1 old head to help them through. Terry, lampard, gerrard, ferdinand, cole.... Who is the natural leader to help the young guns come through and develop?

  • Comment number 57.

    I was disappointed when Capello left (the expensive experience from Wc 2010 going with him and all) but Hodgson has carried himself well so far ('arry would have been a nightmare) and I hope that Roy is successful (winning a tournament is beyond us but putting in good, petulant/scandal free, performances should not be).

    It makes sense that the younger prospects should be eased into the national side over the qualification period; not just thrown in from the start. Good post by Tomg7.

    Also, if every team should adapt their style of play to their opponents then doesn't that mean that EVERY team would be adapting their style of play....? Just a thought...

  • Comment number 58.

    @57
    Also, if every team should adapt their style of play to their opponents then doesn't that mean that EVERY team would be adapting their style of play....? Just a thought...

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

    yes, its called tactics.
    too bad england doesnt seem to have more than one way to play which is why we get dominated so easily. teams learn how to play against you when youre predictable

  • Comment number 59.

    @dazfish. Carroll, welbeck, jones, walker and young, oxlaide -chamberlain have had sufficient caps already. They're not being thrown in from the start.

  • Comment number 60.

    England squad as it should be:

    GK: Hart, Butland, Stockdale
    LB: Baines, Bertrand
    RB: Walker, Richards
    CB: Jagielka, Cahill, Jones, Smalling
    DM: Rodwell, Henderson
    CM: Wilshere, Cleverley
    LM: A Johnson, A Young
    RM: Ox, Walcott
    FW: Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck, Carroll

    Time to kick out the over 30s and build for WC 2014 Euro 2016.

  • Comment number 61.

    After Euro 1996, England also visted Moldova in their first game, during that campaign the likes of Beckham, Campbell, Neville's, Scholes and towards the end Owen, were drafted into the team alongside the older generation such as Seaman, Shearer and Gascoigne.
    If Hodgson's approach is similar to this then fine but to go fully one way or the other in terms of youth or experience has proven many times to be a failed move.

  • Comment number 62.

    We have for ages been a second rate footballing nation and Hodgson proved this with his comments worrying about beating Moldova. We have no world class players its shameful. Footballers wages being stratospheric give them no incentive to win. Win or lose they return to their millionaire lifestyles. Rooney internationally has been ineffective/useless so we need to find a new striker.

  • Comment number 63.

    We should be beating Moldova (and most of the other teams in this group) easily. We need to experiment with different players and give some of the youngsters a run in the team.

    Gerrard as captain is a problem as it means he will not be dropped even if he should be.

  • Comment number 64.

    Also what is Carrick doing back in the squad? He's 31 so not the future and wasn't interested in playing for England a few months ago. What kind of message does this send to the rest of the team and especially the younger players?

  • Comment number 65.

    @60
    take out rooney and add a couple of older heads and you got a good team. all you need now is a manager who will get them playing football in a way where it will put up a fight against quality opposition, and not a style of play that gets you a 1-0 win over a mediocre team

  • Comment number 66.

    @64
    hodgson has been listening to the media over hyping another average player. i remember when he came up against xavi and iniesta in the CL final and seemed like he should be playing for crystal palace

  • Comment number 67.

    @diesel001. I agree, my point exactly. Just feel one old head to help them grow. Problem is parker, gerrard, rio and terry are all injury prone. Cole and lampard arnt leaders in my eyes. @jmp2012 - as i just said, ox, carroll, welbeck, walker, jones and young have plenty of experience already. If roy was to ditch the over 30's right now he wouldnt be throwing the youngsters in at the deep end.

  • Comment number 68.

    A major upset on the cards tonight. England could win this one.

  • Comment number 69.

    Anyway wasn't Roy supposed to faze out the old plodders after the Euro,s? Different manager but the same predictable ideas. It appears that Roy hasn't the courage to make this decision of ending the international careers of the "olden generation". It will be again Lumpard and Stevie G starting in midfield with the "hoof and loof" and "when in doubt kick it out" tactics tonight. I reckon Moldova will dominate play.

  • Comment number 70.

    Phil, with all due respect what you know about Moldova, Chisinau or it's fans, is even less than you know about football per se, which let's face it is not a lot. It is really boring, having to read your over worked cliché filled drivel.
    You write ‘hostile’, based on what….. another assumption? Do you even know the make-up of the Moldovan population? I think not, have you ever been to Moldova, or taken the time to know them, again I think not.
    BTW, I am not a Moldovan, with regret I am English, and shudder to think how embarrassed either the England team or the so called English fans will make me feel by the end of this visit.
    Moldovan’s are generally a warm friendly people, mostly very poor, but generous. They are not perfect, and will given half the chance take you for a ride or anything else then can, especially the taxi drivers. That’s no different from anywhere, including the UK.
    Try to know a little before you write a load of …….!

  • Comment number 71.

    At 07:43 7th Sep 2012, diesel001 wrote:

    RM: Ox, Walcott
    FW: Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck, Carroll

    Time to kick out the over 30s and build for WC 2014 Euro 2016.
    ----------------------------

    Time also to kick out The Shrek that is Mr Rooney.
    An overrated/overpayed plodder who does nothing in an England shirt.

    Give the other fowards a chance. They cant do no worse than the Shrek one.

  • Comment number 72.

    70: Which is all very nice but what doesn their make up have to do with the atmosphere inside the stadium? I know plenty of places in the UK with lovely people but the atmosphere within football stadiums is something else.

  • Comment number 73.

    "You should judge players on performances"

    Yes you should. But they don't. they pick the same old players regardless of their performances. Rooney shouldn't have gone to the Euros, he's only not been selected now as he's injured. Crouch has been banging goals in for Stoke and has a great record for England but he doesn't get selected even when Rooney and Carroll are injured.

    England will win - it's only Moldova. I don't have any hopes of us winning a tournament while Gerrard, Lampard et al at still playing.

    Hodgeson is the best man for the job though.

  • Comment number 74.

    Would it be too much to ask for a bit of actual analysis here? Rather than just waffling on about the name of some pub how about discussing hos England might approach the game, tactics and team selections etc.

    Also Steven Gerrard needs to take a long look at himself with those comments, Scholes may be 37 but the reason he was talked about was he is still performing at the top level. Gerrard just isn't any more, hasn't been good for about 2 years.

  • Comment number 75.

    @73
    i want to pose a question. who do you believe should lead the line out of any english player based on current form, regardless of age

    i believe with the way he has played so far this season, rickie lambert is the stand out.
    remember, do not take age into consideration

  • Comment number 76.

    The problem with everyone calling for a complete overhaul and blooding all the younger, more exciting players at the same time is that you lose all of your experience and you get a team of good individuals who don't have any direction, and would therefore struggle to grind out a win against opposition who will defend like hell and play for a draw (as Moldova surely will).

    I remember having the same argument just before the 2006 WC with a mate who said Beckham should be dropped from the team in favour of Aaron Lennon as he was too old. Problem was Lennon can beat players, terrify the opposition and look fantastic, but when he gets to the by-line he can't do anything with it and you get a corner at best, wheras beckham had the nous and experience to create goalscoring opportunities from nowhere and could help the team close out a win and hold a lead in a tight match. That's why he had value and why he was first choice.

    Fast forward to now, and yes players like the ox, welbeck, wilshere etc look promising, but they don't have the experience to carry the team through on their own. They're all yet to prove that they can turn their potential into results. You need players of proven quality and experience there with them. Gerrard, Rooney, Cole, Terry and Lampard have all won the champions league so they can't be that bad - they need to stick around to bed the younger players in and then make way gradually as the youngsters gain experience.

    Also, just because the 'golden generation' have underacheived their potential (which they undoubtedly have), that doesn't mean the next generation will automatically fare any better. If we dropped all of the old heads but then failed to qualify using the new generation of players then you'd all rip them to shreds and say they'd underacheived. Build 'em up, knock 'em down...

    There has to be a balance, that's all I'm saying. Roy seems to be keeping the old faces around and gradually blooding younger players around them, which looks pretty sensible to me.

  • Comment number 77.

    This is as useless news as Charlton Jr saying we can't win the world cup.

    What next? Franz Beckenbauer issues a statement saying England might win the world cup??

  • Comment number 78.

    Should be a easy three points 3-0 England even with 11 defenders on the pitch they should win by that score!!

    More importantly come on Wales let's try and cause an upset and beat a strong Belgium side tonight, even a draw will do me I promise!!

  • Comment number 79.

    71.

    Snore!!!

    Yes let's kick Rooney out of England team and pick say ummmmm Grant Holt??

    What has Grant Holt done different to Rooney?? Because last time I checked Wayne Rooney is was the highets scoring Englishman last season so surely no other player should play up front other than him when not injured!!

    Talk some sense or stop talking simple really even for an idiot like yourself :)

  • Comment number 80.

    'I judge a player on what I see with my eyes, not his age'.


    Shoulda gone to Specsavers Roy.

  • Comment number 81.

    20.
    At 01:45 7th Sep 2012, Londoner in exile returns wrote:

    Del Bosque, was missing Villa at the Euros, the usual answer would be to get someone to fill the role. Not, Del Bosque, he decided to play with no striker [that is unheard of] but he made it work by adjusting the midfield slightly, that is remarkable and the result Euros won.

    Those 2 managers are split by 46 years but both defied convention and found a way to play and be successful. It is called innovation.
    ___________________________________

    I think most people including you and I were astonished at what Del Bosque did at the Euros. I seem to remember you said something about it being tried in the 80s and it hadn't worked then and you couldn't see it working in 2012.

    Personally i'm still not convinced as it seemed to be more about his lack of confidence in his strikers.

    If teams copy it then he will certainly deserve credit for innovation.

  • Comment number 82.

    @75 - The_Boss

    I honestly can't answer that. I live in Barcelona so only get to see the English players who play in Europe when Spanish TV deigns to show an English club. This is still very few due to the fact the EPL teams that get into Europe are chock-full of non-English players. Look at our 'keepers. If Hart is injured we have to play a goalie who's never played at the highest level for his club.

    I do know that Rooney has consistently underperformed for England, Lampard and Gerrard never 'gel' yet get played together time and again and that Crouch's current and past form is better than Carroll's. I did see all of England's matches at the Euros, Rooney didn't add anything when he was brought in. Only scoring a tap-in that any striker worth his salt would have been in the same position to score.

  • Comment number 83.

    Gerrard and Lampard were too old in 2010.

    As far as I know, they must now be even older.....

    Why are they STILL in the team ?

  • Comment number 84.

    Its a free hit every tme for an England coach. Only the media say different. Its not a thin chance of World Cup glory that England take with them every time, its a less than anorexic chance! Get real. England arent much good, haven't been for years and arent likely to be either. Hodgsons a perfect Coach for them. Laid back, easy approach and enjoys it seemingly, while deep down probably expecting not much, which is about right. About the same as any sane Englang follower. Having said all of this, you lot in the press will no doubt be looking for your chance to hang him as soon as the odd dodgy result comes around. Pathetic.

  • Comment number 85.

    76: I see your point but surely what Hodgson should be doing is picking a set of players who will be able to play his preferred system and not look out of place. An experienced player may not work as well as a youngster or new comer as they are not as able to adapt to a slighlty different position or system. He obviously feels the older players can still do the job at the moment although my worry is if he's considered whether these players will still be at this level come Rio. Personally I would rather take a short term hit for a long term benefit.

  • Comment number 86.

    England to Qualify from group for qualifying and at the World Cup but to lose in second round to a country that FIFA believe are below them in the world rankings quite comfortably!!

  • Comment number 87.

    At 09:15 7th Sep 2012, TonyBlair61 wrote:

    71.

    Snore!!!

    Yes let's kick Rooney out of England team and pick say ummmmm Grant Holt??

    What has Grant Holt done different to Rooney?? Because last time I checked Wayne Rooney is was the highets scoring Englishman last season so surely no other player should play up front other than him when not injured!!

    Talk some sense or stop talking simple really even for an idiot like yourself :)

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

    Now Now sir.

    There is no need for the insults my dear friend this is not Facebook. I'm only making comment on what i beleive like others do on these blogs.
    Grant Holt? no mention of him anywere on my post so i cant understand why you make this comparison. Did you wake up this morning with a bang to your head?

    As for the Shrek highest scorer? who cares? What has he done in an England shirt of late thats what matters? I might as well have included Grant Holt in my previous post as he would do a better job upfront than Rooney.

    Are you happy now sir?

  • Comment number 88.

    English football as in the representing of England is in terminal decline. yes these things may be cyclical but i fear this time it isnt and the decline has set in.

    When you look back at previous tournaments and look at the percentage of English players the manager could call on from the PL that figure is decreasing. The Pl is what it is because of foriegn players and as a brand it might be successful but it is stifling english players progress.

    As for Gerrards comments about winning in Rio, it is the height of hyperbole. England may not even make it to Rio yet alone get out of the group, let alone get to knock-out phase or beyond. Gerrard normally talks sense but his obligation to the FA and Hodgson has made him lose his marbles.

  • Comment number 89.

    It is the age old story, a manager comes in and talks about reinvigorating the team with youth, and then falls back on the old guard whi have done precisely nothing in previous campaigns.

    He should ditch lampard, gerrard, ferdinand, carrick, terry - they are symbols of the failed golden generation. We may as well blood some youth such as:

    smalling, jones, richards, rodwell, cleverley, oxlade-chamberlain

    They honestly cant do much worse, can they and they have the benefit of youthful exuberance (remember the impact of a young Wayne Rooney in 2004 or going further back a young Michael Owen in France 98?).

    What is the point in qualifying with some old codgers and then bringing in new faces for the world cup who have not gelled together and then get knocked out in the group phase?!

  • Comment number 90.

    To be honest, reading the bland quotes from the England manager doesn't fill me with much confidence. Nothing seems to change, we get the usual quotes from the manager and captain to raise hopes that this time it will be different. I look forward to the blog after the 2014 finals where the manager says the lessons have been learnt from the disappointing tournament and we're moving in the right direction.

  • Comment number 91.

    Obviously some posters here weren't paying attention during the Euros.
    Hodgson = out of his depth no hoper.

  • Comment number 92.

    The main thing I shall be looking for tonight will be the 'system' England play. We all believe that too often picking the players has come before picking the team. I think Hodgson has reversed this so far, partly by design, partly through circumstance.

    But, let's see if that continues because I think that is the best way forward.

  • Comment number 93.

    Now Now sir.

    There is no need for the insults my dear friend this is not Facebook. I'm only making comment on what i beleive like others do on these blogs.
    Grant Holt? no mention of him anywere on my post so i cant understand why you make this comparison. Did you wake up this morning with a bang to your head?

    As for the Shrek highest scorer? who cares? What has he done in an England shirt of late thats what matters? I might as well have included Grant Holt in my previous post as he would do a better job upfront than Rooney.

    Are you happy now sir?
    _____________________________________________________________________

    If the criteria for being picked for england is how they perform in an england shirt, then you would have ashley cole and joe hart and no one else!!! rooney may not be the player for england that he is for United but the same goes for virtually all the players who have played for england for the last 10 years maybe more!! why do you single out rooney?

  • Comment number 94.

    England will qualify for Brazil they have been seeded to do so. When they get there they will make the last eight if they are lucky. People need to wake up to the fact that we have very few top quality English players in the Premier league and as such the England team cannot hope to win at this level. We need to build for the future now by making a simple rule that all premiership teams must have at least six english qualified players in their starting line ups and at least half of the subs must also be qualified. It will take time but by limiting foreign players in time any cream out there may raise to the top.

  • Comment number 95.

    94: Wouldn't that be illegal though?

  • Comment number 96.

    92

    Hodgson has brought something new and unexpected to the England gaffer's job....a certain degree of intelligence. He is definitely taking us in the right direction

  • Comment number 97.

    #94 sense2

    Whilst there is some merit in what you say, it sounds contrived and unrealistic in that the commercial reality of premier league football is not about the England team.

  • Comment number 98.

    I'd love to see Jonny Howson & Nathan Dyer in the England set up, Dyer IMO is the best right sided wide man (Englishman anyway) in the PL right now, much more effective than your Walcott's and Lennon's) & Johnny Howson is pure class (call me bias but I was one of the few NCFC fans who disagreed with the 'Grant Holt for England' campaign growing at the tail end of last season, he's a complete midfielder since he joined us, gets up and down the pitch, passes the ball well and retains it better than a lot of English midfielders, both players would do a quality job for England.

  • Comment number 99.

    @79 TonyBlair61

    You've made the classic mistake of assuming that because Rooney scored a lot of goals for Man Utd last season he will automatically perform for England.

    If you watched the matches England played at the Euros you would have seen that we looked better as a team (and more likely to score) when Rooney was not on the pitch.

  • Comment number 100.

    @93
    if you look at his original comment against rooney you will see that it was a reply to someone who posted a host of players, in which rooney was in but no one else from the old guard was mentioned. therefor rooney was singled out
    i myself believe rooney is a over hyped plonker who only does well then he is wearing the red devils jersey.

 

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