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Mixed emotions for Capello

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Phil McNulty | 21:58 UK time, Wednesday, 12 August 2009

England coach Fabio Capello insists he spoke quietly to his players after a shambolic first 45 minutes in Amsterdam - the Italian will keep his powder dry for more significant days than this.

The trademark iron mask slipped as he generously blamed two crass errors from Rio Ferdinand and Gareth Barry that gifted the Netherlands a two-goal lead on lingering pre-season rust.

It is unlikely Capello will be so forgiving if lapses are repeated as the countdown continues towards what England captain John Terry is convinced will be a serious assault on the World Cup in South Africa next summer.

As Capello rightly stated, it is better to distribute the presents in a friendly rather than in a World Cup encounter, when they could prove fatal, but the lessons must still be learned.

Capello's forgiving mood would have been helped by a second half full of spirit and encouraging cameos - with Jermain Defoe taking top honours with two goals to equalise goals from Dirk Kuyt and Rafael van der Vaart.

And his claim about pre-season cobwebs causing England's lapses had some basis in logic, given the unusual timing of this friendly just days before the start of the Premier League campaign.

All criticism of England's performance must be placed in the context that this was effectively the end of pre-season preparations for many players.

If that harrowing first half in the Amsterdam ArenA served a purpose, it was to deliver a timely warning that England cannot make a difficult job potentially impossible by gifting possession to teams as technically gifted as the Dutch - especially 20 yards from their own goal.

Ferdinand and Barry have been two of England's most reliable performers and men Capello may count on heavily in South Africa, and he will remain confident these were one-off aberrations.

jermain defoe

Steven Gerrard will be back after injury and the performance of Defoe, as well as Carlton Cole and James Milner when they were introduced, suggests a dogfight for places on the plane to South Africa will ensue as the season progresses.

The downside was that England looked pedestrian and technically inferior to the Dutch in the first half - the pluses all came after the break.

Defoe's introduction was electrifying, streaking clear to score after 49 minutes and providing a poacher's finish for the equaliser 13 minutes from the end of an entertaining encounter.

He looked busy throughout, flashing a header just over from Milner's cross, and may just have pushed Michael Owen's hopes of an international recall further into the distance.

Owen will want to use his new Manchester United career as a launchpad for the revival of his England ambitions, but Defoe has stated his case and it is clear that Capello is an huge admirer.

Milner was another to create a favourable impression with a marauding performance on the left that troubled John Heitinga, making more of an impact than his Villa colleague Ashley Young.

Carlton Cole, an enigmatic figure for much of his career, also suggested he is finally becoming the finished article under the tutelage of Gianfranco Zola at West Ham with a lively performance as replacement for Wayne Rooney,

It all made for a sympathetic Capello as he starts this vital 12 months - but his air of authority ensures England's players will know such carelessness will not be tolerated in the future.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I saw the second half which was probably best, and completely agree with your summation of Milner, Defoe and Cole as the stand out performances on the night. It's good to see depth in the squad and seemingly more adventure in the young players of the team, the aforementioned all making notable impacts in their time on the pitch. Spot on Phil.

  • Comment number 2.

    I would hardly call the first 45 minutes 'harrowing', Phil. It was solid, apart from the two errors. Admittedly the mistakes are cause for concern but for periods of the first half we outplayed the Dutch.

  • Comment number 3.

    We were absolutely careless and literally asleep in the first half. But in the second we woke up and played our game. The Holland goals were gifts and a result of carelessness on our part - our goals were a result of hard work. And the subs did better than the main starting lineups, hopefully this should give the likes of Rio and Barry a wake up call that to play for england you need to earn it. Cole, Defoe, SWP, Milner and Carrick were all good today. And Beckham is still the best crosser on the right. A good comeback and good result, considering a premiership ball hasn't even been kicked yet. England should build on this and get better, and don't get careless or complacent early on. We need to start our games with pace and urgency as opposed to slowly waking up from bed.

  • Comment number 4.

    It was good to see that we have more than one striker able to come on asa sub and grab a brace - so well done Jermain!
    As far as I'm concerned, the more competitive our strke force is, the better our chances of success in SA.
    I just wish we had GOALKEEPERS as good ans as competitive in their position, as our GOALSCORERS Defoe, Rooney, Cole, Heskey, Walcott, Crouch (and even possibly Owen) are, for those few places in South Africa.
    At this point in the season, we simply cannot predict who is going to be there, but at least we now know that, even if one or two of our group of strikers are unavailable at World Cup time due to injury (or lack of form), we have enough strength in depth to know we can still get goals in South Africa. We are no longer a one-man show up front!
    I'm far more worried about our lack of decent goalkeepers, rather than any lack of decent goal scorers! They are the players who can lose you World Cups!

  • Comment number 5.

    I know the Premiership isn't underway, but the 2 back passes were shocking. An Indian Elephant, with 2 cubs, could have spotted both those passes and intercepted them.

    My view; Perfomance, decent, especially 2nd half. Worries; ok, lets wait and see when the team has been playing for a few weeks; Worried about Glen Johnson, especially at the start of a game; Fat Frank not bombing forward seems wrong, as much as I would get rid of him it seems odd to try and curb his natural game; Becks too slow for this system?

    ALthough I would like to say apart from a few flaps Green was ok in goal. Maybe a touch of overexcitement in his foray's into the 18 yard box, but some top quaility saves.

    In fact, why wasn't the Hull squad bought in for this friendly? The way they started last year would have resulted in a thrashing of the Dutch Masters.

  • Comment number 6.

    There were plenty of plus points in the first half too - Rooney looked a real menace at times and almost scored a screamer, Beckham showed what technique has to offer over pace and the team kept the ball moving, mostly on the ground. Perhaps it was a case of playing around a bit too deep, rather than just being asleep

    The second half saw the Dutch relax a bit (half time trip to a cafe?) and that allowed us to push a bit further up the pitch and demonstrate that we do have strength in depth, as Defoe, Milner and particularly Cole, who was not only a strong presence but also showed a deft touch, cemented their claims for squad places

    My initial reaction was that Owen looks to have dropped too far down the strikers pecking order now, especially as Defoe's got that extra bit of speed that Owen just hasn't got anymore. However, if he proves his goalscoring touch is still alive and well at United (and therefore that his fitness isn't suspect), then surely he offers something different - Rooney as the wildcard, Cole and Heskey the target men and Defoe and Owen as the little poachers leaving Crouch to fall by the wayside - what does everyone else think?

  • Comment number 7.

    England played well despite the errors and the lax approach in the first half which we should put down to rustiness and were much better in the second half.
    Can we question Beckham's performance? Fair enough he didn't do anything wrong, but then again what did he actually do for forty five minutes? Milner seemed to do more in five minutes than Becks has done for the last half a dozen matches. We all love stories with happy endings, but is it not time that he stepped aside?

  • Comment number 8.

    I think that we actually played well for most of the game and people forget that for periods in the first half we were much the better side. Hollands goals were a matter of fluke and carelessness as opposed to really breaking down our defence and they did not make that many clear cut chances in the end.

    I would like to see Carlton Cole replace Heskey as he is much more mobile, skillful and poses a realistic threat to goal. People say that Heskey gets picked because hes such a handful and is powerful in the air but Cole has all those attributes and more. Typical of England to stick with a player whos long past it despite a small return to form.

  • Comment number 9.

    Face the truth: the English team is not good enough to pose a serious challenge in world stage. Dont bank on the lame victiories over mediocre teams in qualifiers. This was their first serious test and I saw a lot of short comings!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    #9 Biayano

    You are correct in saying that there were a lot of shortcomings, but there's a great deal more which can be taken from the game and 2-2 away to Holland, who are also unbeaten in qualification, is not a poor result. As for the lame victories over mediocre teams, do you include Croatia in this?

    Something tells me that you are from North of the border and perhaps venting your own frustrations and shortcomings?

  • Comment number 11.

    A decent performance by a sloppy England side. Two lapses in concentration gifted goals in the first half, where only David Beckham shone. Substitutes did the job in the second half with Carlton Cole being the pick. The Dutch looked much more clinical and comfortable on the ball and unless England improve I still cannot see them challenging for major honours.

  • Comment number 12.

    7. ahmedjeffersontyke - Beckham had a solid game, certainly better than his replacement SWP. Secondly, even if Milner has done well but the other pretenders have been given chances to displace Beckham but have failed to impress, such as the likes of SWP, Lennon and Bentley. Accept it, out of the likes of SWP, Bentley and Lennon, no one can say confidently that at least one of them is genuinely a better option on the right than Becks. Theo has been good at times but inconsistent and clearly shows his naive wing play at times. The others have been inconsistent, average or poor. I'd start with Theo because of his pace and eye for goal or maybe even push Joe Cole out to the right, instead of Becks but certainly not the likes of SWP and Lennon. I think Lennon may come good, if he improves on his consistency at club level as he has more variety than SWP. Still don't get why SWP is still in the England squad as he rarely looks good in a England shirt. Downing and SWP, in my opinion, are inept at international level. Yep, Milner did well on the left and should be given a chance again but puh-leez, don't make out he is an outstanding and better option than the current options as he has barely played at international level. So hold your horses and lets see how Milner does in the next two games, before you get excited.

    I really hope Joe Cole does get to play a meaningful part this season, so he can get back in the England squad. Will be interesting to see how he fits in Capello's plans as Cole has been a good player for England on the left. He links up well with the others, creative and has a lot of variety, whilst the likes of SWP and Lennon (also Theo to a certain extent) often find themselves relying on pace only and being isolated on the wing. Will Cole be benched? Will he or Gerrard move out to the right, whilst the other plays on the left? If it were me, i'd definitely make room for Joe Cole in the team.

  • Comment number 13.

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

  • Comment number 14.

    Well we must be bored and desperate for the season to start. Stephen Gerrard couldnt be bothered to show up (how often does he pull out the friendlies, get in night club brawls and no-one mentions a thing) and by all accounts Barry and Ferdinand weren't mentally there anyway. Fair play to Lamps and Terry for talking like patriots leading up to the game. Stevie 'only care playing in red' Gerrard doesnt deserve the shirt.
    Either way come May this game will be about as distant as Leeds United are as Champions league force. A ridiculous friendly that no-one needed. Come May Cappello, no different to Sven and McClaren will pick the usual suspects. No England manager has mixed it up since Venables. Owen will play, Gerrard on the left. Milner, Lescott, SWP, Carlton Cole....will play about as many minutes as Walcott did in 2006. Heskey still doing an honest job that would be a proud star player role for Poland, or Romania. But sadly he like many others...James, SWP, Defoe, are all quater final standard and won't cut it when it matters.

    Itll be the same 11 with addition of Terry as 2006 World Cup in Germany.

    Recall Shearer and Scholes and we have the same side as 2004!

  • Comment number 15.

    Having difficulty picturing an elephant with two cubs, ArshavinsRightBoot!! Are we talking cub scouts here? Tiger cubs?

    Good to see some of the fringe players putting in good performances, it should keep the first XI on their toes, especially with a man like Capello around. I have to say I disagree with GilesSmith83, if the usual suspects are not performing or not in form, he will pick others instead. Actually reading your post again, it's all nonsense...

  • Comment number 16.

    Phil - on your Report on the website you said -

    "England coach Fabio Capello will have mixed feelings about the performance of his side - and will demand the basic errors that cost two goals be eradicated as the build up continues towards what he hopes will be a serious World Cup challenge in South Africa next summer.

    But he will be delighted by the spirit shown as England fought their way back into contention with Defoe as the spearhead, helped by impressive cameos from two other substitutes in Carlton Cole and Milner."

    How do you know He will be delighted, or he will have mixed feelings?? This is your opinion, stop trying to dress it up as Fabio's opinion.


  • Comment number 17.

    I get a little tired of old journalists clinging to old ideals within football: I didn't see anything last night to make me go 'blimey, those Dutch boys are technically gifted'. I thought the standard of play was actually quite level, and I would say that if you take Robben and Sneijder out of the equation the Dutch side isn't all that good technically.

    What last night showed is this: Holland and England are close to top of the pile in Europe, but distant runners up to Spain. Then there's Argentina and Brazil to think about, not forgetting African teams like Egypt and Ivory Coast who will be busting a gut to win the World Cup on their continent.

    The friendly - to me, anyway - represented one thing. The nervous hopefulness approaching games against teams like the Netherlands - so long a hallmark of English fandom - isn't necessary anymore. Not only because the English have improved technically - the Dutch have gotten worse. And the French, and the Germans, perhaps even the Italians. Only the Spanish have progressed meaningfully. So, what does this mean for England next summer?

  • Comment number 18.

    We drew away to the only other team with a 100% record in the European world cup qualifying groups. It could have been a lot worse, i could have beeen a Scot.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well done England, you played a good match against a dutch team that imho (and i'm dutch) still needs a lot of work done in terms of gameplan and tactics...., instead of relying on individual talent. Van Marwijk, our coach, is trying to do this and getting there, but the discipline of the english showed that we still have some way to go in that department...if we want to get anywhere next summer.

    Do you mean old footballing ideals like 'england will be world champions next year'?? Because that's what i was reading in the papers yesterday. And Holland (1st european team to qualify) getting worse!? As well as the french, ze germans AND the italians!?
    Oh dear, oh does the saying go: to birds don't make summer, or something like that.

  • Comment number 20.

    Am now really worried about Fabio's lack of fluent spoken English. It was obvious in his post match interview that he did not fully understand
    the questions. He described the Ferdinand/Barry errors as 'unlucky' and could not find a way of saying 'non competitive', His frustration at not being able to express himself must be devastating.

  • Comment number 21.

    I was at the game and thought for a friendly this was a good effort. Holland had 3 chances (2 created by England) in the first half to Englands 4 or 5. Rooney did not go too deep and Beckham still shows he has class, though not 90 mins! I thought Green played well when he had too, but I thought over all England were slightly the better side. Our wide players (SWP and Young) showed again that they are not international class, but I think Milner showed he has great potential and with Joe Cole to come back we could have strong attacking midfield.
    Just wonder about Johnson and who can cover him - if continues this form he will just about make Liverpool reserves.

  • Comment number 22.

    It looked to me like 2 even sides out there. One question I would ask though. SWP, is it just me or is his reading of the game awful? Last night I lost count of the times a team-mate put a pass into where he should have been only to lose possession as SWP was back on his heels 10 yards away. I've seen him do it for City as well.

  • Comment number 23.

    Anybody trying to draw any meaningful conclusions from last night's encounter with the Dutch is treading on very thin ice. Were you even watching the same match? The Dutch didn't seem bothered by the goals they conceded at all which tells you a little something about how they approached the match.

    Next time we insist on playing a friendly game at a time in the season when all players are still struggling with fitness, maybe not... pick the most laid-back nation in Europe?

  • Comment number 24.

    Watched the game last night, pretty impressed with the contributions from both Milner & Cole after the break, Cole may even have a chance of starting instead of Heskey in the next qualifier (at least he can stay on his feet!!). Not singing Defoe's praises too much, as we all know he's capable of getting goals - his pace was a prize asset amongst an otherwise fairly immobile front line.

    Still unconvinced with both Barry and Johnson at International level. Neither of them looked to be up for the game yesterday - probably still getting their heads around their fat new pay packets.

  • Comment number 25.


    Let us not get too carried away by Capello's inability to express himself fully via the English language. Since this did not prevent Mr Bobby Robson from achieving a reasonably successful tenure as England coach.

    Others have struggled tremendously with the language and have failed to match Capello's results so far. I'm sure you would agree that Mr Glen Hoddle should have attended English classes instead of double-Religious Education.


  • Comment number 26.

    The first half 'harrowing'? What? Apart from those awful errors - in which, in true England fashion - we seem scared to pass with confidence and give presents to the opposition (it's normally our goalie, last night it was the defenders) - I thought we played pretty well. Mind you, I do agree that those errors were totally embarrassing......I wonder why it happens to English players, and English goalies in particular?

    Still, you have to see the WHOLE picture. I thought we played well. I didn't think the Dutch were any good - which surprised me to be honest cause they were brilliant in Euro 2008. I also thought Carlton Cole and Milner and of course Defoe were excellent. Cole nearly scored a goal which you don't see from England players any more. In the past I have criticized England heavily but I thought we played pretty well last night and should have beaten the Dutch at their own ground. That's not 'harrowing' is it?

  • Comment number 27.

    For the first time in nearly seventeen years, I broke with my tradition of never watching an England team play. So I got comfortable and sat up till 2am awaiting the live broadcast here in the Philippines. I had the thought that maybe Capello, it being a friendly match, would at least put out a side containing new faces. I read the starting line up and promptly switched off and went to bed.
    Johnson - not good enough
    Ferdinand - too slow
    Heskey - too old & slow
    Rooney - grossly overated
    Beckham - well past the sell by date
    Young - no class and also overated
    Barry - out of his depth
    England soccer managers are the same as cricket managers, they always pick names and not in-form players. I know the season isn't underway yet but these guys are supposed to be the best we have?.

  • Comment number 28.

    3. At 00:32am on 13 Aug 2009, RockingTheJoint wrote:

    We were absolutely careless and literally asleep in the first half.

    Sorry, but I watched the whole game and didn't see any England players napping or sleeping on the pitch. Maybe the cameras providing the feed I watched neglected to show this. I am surprised that in a full stadium players can find an area of the pitch quiet and calm enough to sleep.

  • Comment number 29.

    Surely what we saw last night just confirmed what we've all known since Italia '90 - that England are the footballing equivalent to Tim Henman. A Top 10 side certainly, but never seriously going to win the Big One but we'll have some fun along the way and there should be no disgrace in that. Why do we get so disappointed with England when we don't win the World Cup in 2010 because we know deep down that there are better teams out there?! We beat the lesser teams on a regularly basis but when we come up against the best like Spain & Brazil we don't quite have enough, just like when Tim used to play Sampras!

  • Comment number 30.

    27. At 08:40am on 13 Aug 2009, lucenatony wrote:

    For the first time in nearly seventeen years, I broke with my tradition of never watching an England team play. So I got comfortable and sat up till 2am awaiting the live broadcast here in the Philippines. I had the thought that maybe Capello, it being a friendly match, would at least put out a side containing new faces. I read the starting line up and promptly switched off and went to bed.
    Johnson - not good enough
    Ferdinand - too slow
    Heskey - too old & slow
    Rooney - grossly overated
    Beckham - well past the sell by date
    Young - no class and also overated
    Barry - out of his depth
    England soccer managers are the same as cricket managers, they always pick names and not in-form players. I know the season isn't underway yet but these guys are supposed to be the best we have?.


    With the exception of Heskey (though he should still be in the squad) yes these are the best, pleae name me a Better RB, two better CBs, a better RW, a better LW, 2 better strikers and a better DM if you think there are any out there or quit whining.

  • Comment number 31.

    I couldn't have been watching the same match? I thought the first half performance was pretty solid bar the mistakes which are often what games hinge on at this level.
    They were a little weak in the middle but the first half work from Becks, Heskey and Rooney ground them down enough for Defoe and Cole to shine in the second. Defoe's first was really cultured.
    I thought there were a lot of promising performances here. These players need to be on a wave of positive thinking heading for the world cup, so let's try and support them rather than give them the usual kicking shall we?

  • Comment number 32.

    People may forget that this type of friendly was never going to work properly. Firstly for most of the players the coming season is make or break to get a ticket to South Africa so to have an injury free season etc. players will not want an injury before the season started. However there are good signs that some players 'still' want to play for England regardless on the risks of injury etc. The worrying thing is that these players have the experience of failure in previous campaigns and in their hearts will realise that perhaps we are not good enough to win. There is no harm in trying your best , what we need is the will and determination that always seems to come for the best part from argentina, brazil , germany, italy and spain. Why do we not have the coherant team passion that these sides have ?.

  • Comment number 33.

    27. With regards and respect to your opinion: Are you sure it's not just England you haven't watched in 17 years of the Premier League as well? Granted, there were a few below par performances last night; Barry I agree did look out his depth and paled in comparison to his Dutch counterpart and City team mate de Jong. Ferdinand was unusually poor last night especially with his contribution to Kuyt's goal and Glen Johnson looked off the pace and unable to deal with the skill and pace of the left flanked Dutch players constantly running at him. But at the same time this does not speak for their general week in-week out performances, one match does not make a player. Furthermore, writing off Beckham, who's passing and composure were impeccable last night, calling Rooney overrated and accusing Ashley Young of having no class is just pure nonsense. On a positive note, it's good to see competition for places hotting up! Great performances from Milner, Defoe and Carlton Cole will hopefully add more of a competitive streak to a broadly predictable England team. And if Walcott and Wilshere (although I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon just yet, but if he cements a first team place at Arsenal this season he's in with a shot) can produce some decent displays in the forthcoming season Capello could face a real selection headache. I also sincerely hope Hargreaves can beat his injury woes and get back to snarling around his territory and snapping at the heels of opposition for United soon. He really is a type of player that is becoming rare in the English game and would be a valuable asset to take to South Africa. Overall last night's game showed some promising performances from upcoming and seasoned players within the squad overshadowed by some awful and hopefully one-off defensive errors that marred the night. Plenty of promise but part of me still feels hesistant to hype up our hopes for the World Cup just yet...

  • Comment number 34.

    "... John Terry is convinced will be a serious assault on the World Cup in South Africa next summer..."

    Here we go again! Terry and media digging a hole for the team...

    There needs to be a reality check. With such a performance they will not reach even the quarter finals, forget getting into finals. The latin american teams will rip them apart if they continue showing mediocracy in defence.

  • Comment number 35.

    At 08:40am on 13 Aug 2009, lucenatony wrote:

    England soccer managers are the same as cricket managers, they always pick names and not in-form players. I know the season isn't underway yet but these guys are supposed to be the best we have?.

    As the season isn't underway yet, who are all these players that are in great form and should be in the side?

  • Comment number 36.


    I agree with you entirely. McNulty must have been watching a different match in the first half. England retained posession at least as well as the Dutch, if not better; the passing was crisp and a high proportion of passes met their target. Two stupid lapses in the final third cost us 2 goals. It's a match every player on that pitch knows we should have won.

    It was a very encouraging performance. Milner proved why he is the most capped under 21 player and straight away proved he can bring the performances he regularly gave at that level into the full international level.

    With both Young and Milner, plus Downing to come back from injury looks like Villa have finally solved Englands left sided problem!

  • Comment number 37.

    what was up with glen johnson last night ? how many times did he get caught in possesion with no easy out ball ? poor distribution or lack of options from a static and out of position becks !

  • Comment number 38.

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

  • Comment number 39.

    The first half was spoilt by the 2 errors leading to Dutch goals but England were the better team and created the best of the few chances. Errors aside (including ones that did not lead to goals, like Greens poor kicks to the Dutch) they failed to trouble us in open play.

    We could have won that game 2-0, maybe more.

    Becks deserves a mention too, he was our spartk in the first half.

  • Comment number 40.

    "It's a match every player on that pitch knows we should have won."

    If you make mistakes like that, you should not have won. Period. Do you really think teams in the WC will be any more forgiving then the dutch in this friendly!?

  • Comment number 41.

    # 27...what would you know, you haven't seen us play in 17 YEARS so no offense but your opinion doesn't count for squat

    #5 elephants have calves not cubs

    ok performance in a pre season friendly, most impressed with cole, he looks like he could be a better option than heskey as he can do everything bruno can do but is a goal threat as well.

    Barry, even ignoring his error, was poor and i would prefer to see carrick alongside lampard in centre mid.

  • Comment number 42.

    2 bad mistakes in the 1st half / also too much long ball stuff up to Hesky which didnt work - with fat frank and barry you would expect us to be able to string a few passes together

    2nd half the defense was better apart from johnson who was terrible and was getting constantly caught in possession and got roasted by Babel who struggles to get into liverpools 1st team (well worth the 18 million i think not)
    The subs done well - Milner actually got a few balls into the box which young didnt do all game - Milner also works harder than young and tracks back more

    Defoe was clinical for the 1st goal / Carlton Cole was brilliant - held the ball up well and caused problems and made the dutch defense look as bad as they actually are (heitinger / ojier are rubbish) - would be a good signing for arsenal as an Ade replacement

  • Comment number 43.

    What I saw gave great cause for hope.
    We have a number of good options in most positions, some tried and tested performers at international level as well as some bright young things wanting to impress, but most of all we have the spirit and fight to come back from 2-0 down away against one of the better teams in the world.
    Our failures in recent years have never been about lack of talent, they've been about lack of tactics and team spirit. Not that long ago, England would have collapsed at 2-0 down, as Scotland did away against Norway last night.
    I suspect Messrs Ferdinand and Barry will be feeling a bit sheepish today, but I think it's safe to say that they won't be making a habit of such flagrant generosity.
    Incidentally, Spain came back from 2-0 down against Macedonia yesterday. Clearly the comeback is the mark of a good side.

  • Comment number 44.

    Last night's game goes to show that England are not a one man team. I am bored of the impression that without Rooney England has no chance of doing well in the world cup. The likes of Defoe, Carlton Cole and to a large extent Peter Crouch are good enough to represent England in the absence of Rooney.
    Rooney is a good player, but you cannot compare his influence and importance in a team to those of Christian Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. IMHO Rooney is replaceable.

  • Comment number 45.

    To cannot write England off on the evidence of what you saw last night, no more than you can say they will win the World Cup after their flawless progress through qualifying.

    My view is that there was plenty to be positive about (Defoe, Milner, Carlton Cole) and it is true there were periods in the first 45 minutes when England played well.

    My use of the word "harrowing" referred to the manner in which the goals were conceded, but the second half was excellent - although we must put it all in the context of the fact this was a somewhat unusually timed friendly.

    As for Capello's English, I think it is safe to say England's players get the message so that is more than enough to be going on with.

    I actually do think England will mount a challenge at the World Cup, although Spain would be my tip at this stage.

    Let me know who you think, if the squad was being picked today, who England's strikers would be in South Africa.

  • Comment number 46.

    Totally agree with shaun9528 (#31) - bar 2 mistakes it was a good performance against an equally strong opponent in a pre-season friendly. Lets no read too much into it but there were some class performances from players looking to prove a point. Which can only serve give the bigger names a challenge.

    England are starting to look like a team again, and for the first time in a while are entertaining to watch.

    I'm not going to be too optimistic, but in my opinion both ourselves and the dutch should be at the latter stages in SA next year - still work to do to reach the final though....

  • Comment number 47.

    Very poor in the first half. All you people saying that we only made 2 mistakes are wrong. There were countless times throughout the match where posession was given away cheaply and it was only some poor finishing by the Dutch that kept the score down.

    Substitues were all very good with the exception of Carrick (though he wasn't bad either).

    Pointless game in my opinion, just glad there were no injuries to players before the start of the season.

  • Comment number 48.

    Phil's lack of optimism shining once again. Yes it wasn't a fantastic performance but Holland where never on top of England. Holland didn't show how "technically gifted" they are and their talents didn't help them control the game. I thought England played well considering the players are still only in pre-season. A couple of rusty mistakes was all that let them down and in a friendly its certainly not doom and gloom.
    Worrying was Robert Greens kicking and Ashley Youngs lack of drive-
    Also can't believe that was Milners first senior cap, hes a pretty solid player. Carlton Cole impressed for the first time.

  • Comment number 49.

    " who England's strikers would be in South Africa."

    is capello's English getting better than a certain BBC journalist??! ha, ha, ha...just kidding phil

    if it is 4 places up for grabs then as it stands, following last nights heroics from cole and defoe, it would have to be those two plus rooney and heskey.

    Personally, i would still like to see owen on the plane. I am, like the majority of England fans i suspect, really hoping he can have good season for utd and get himself back to being a viable option for the team that capello can't ignore. He is certainly the type of character who will relish the chance to prove he has still got ability. Maybe a place can be found for a 5th striker, instead of that utility player we always take who never gets a sniff of the action.

  • Comment number 50.

    #45 Phil McNulty - BBC Sport

    Let me know who you think, if the squad was being picked today, who England's strikers would be in South Africa.
    An easy one that I think Phil, the same four as were picked last night. Crouch and Owen, at least, would miss out, but Heskey has been a great foil for Rooney and Defoe and Cole make a similar double act, with perhaps them all being interchangeable.

    I enjoyed last nights game and the individual errors were just that, individual errors. Sure, it's very early in the season but that's the same for the Dutch as well.

    As was noted in commentary, once England were back in the game I could only see them winning it, it either team were to win it.

    The positives, (Milner, Defoe and Cole) that you have already identified outweigh the negatives (Johnson) and the indifferent (Young, Ferdinand, Barry, SWP).

    The positives make last nights game a worthwhile exercise. Good result against a good side. What more can I say.

  • Comment number 51.

    Another typical England perfomance in the first half - they never looked like scoring. How many games is Frank Lampard allowed to play at a very mediocre level. He cannot play at International level as the 'other' midfielder. To accomadate Lampard, England would need to play 3 in the middle, like at Chelsea. He has had far too many chances now and has not performed for England consistently since 2004. It is time he is dropped.
    Ferdinand made a terrible mistake, which was unlike him. On a more positive side, Defoe looked very good ad Milner was exceptional. Has to be on the left in the next game. We have to give these types of players the chance to progress, after all, we have never won anything in the Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard, Cole, Terry, Owen etc Era why will we with them now??

  • Comment number 52.

    On the whole I think this game needs to be seen as a positive. The fact that we actually went 2-0 down was probably a good test of our team to see how we bounce back in 45 minutes at such an early stage of the season. It would have been too easy for the players to just roll over and die given the first round of premier league matches this coming weekend, so I applaud Capello and his team for their comeback against the no.3 rated team in the world.

    Defoe was outstanding, hopefully this will give him the confidence he needs to push on with his England career. In terms of talent in my opinion he has to be our most dangerous goalscorer with Rooney in support coming from just deeper.

    My only real concerns would be Johnson at right back (although nobody else seems capable of doing a job there either) and the goalkeeping position, other than that, a thumbs up from me!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    I'm pretty sure Elephants have bovine names, therefore a young is called a calf, a male is a Bull and a female a Cow.

    England were good.

  • Comment number 54.

    #47 Chewbazza

    Pointless game in my opinion, just glad there were no injuries to players before the start of the season.
    1) Players get extra match fitness.
    2) England get match practise working together as a team.
    3) Three substitutes play very well which increases their confidence and gives the team more options.

    Pointless? Why did you bother watching?

  • Comment number 55.

    Let me know who you think, if the squad was being picked today, who England's strikers would be in South Africa.

    C Cole

    Although that will obviously change throughout the season, and i can see at least 7 names in the hat for those 4 spots with Owen, Crouch and Bent fancying their chances with a good season under their belts.

  • Comment number 56.

    I often wonder how it is that a number of quite mediocre players somehow grab the spotlight and media attention and are translated into stars.

    A Daily Telegraph writer, for example, was extolling the virtues of Glen Johnson, saying he had made the right back position his own. Last night must surely have exploded that myth. Nearly always out of position, slow to get back from attack, and when in position was out run, out played and and out classed by Babel.

    Surely by now it is time that Capello realised that some of our much laided "stars" are not good enough. The hype about Ashley Young is laughable. Just another SWP head down, run like the wind, do nothing at the end of it. These two should both be discarded immediately.

    James Milner produced more positives in five minutes than Ashley Young did in a hour.

  • Comment number 57.

    holland4arsenal --

    I stand by my comments, strange as they may seem! I believe this Dutch side aren't the strongest in the past 15 years - same goes for the French, Italian and German national sides. England, however (and again in my opinion), have probably their strongest 11 and strongest squad (DEFINITELY their best manager!). Equally, Spain have their strongest team/squad in 15 years - it's just that theirs is on a whole other level!

    In terms of saying that Holland have already qualified so that makes my comment wrong, I don't believe that's the case. While qualification can be an indicator of form, more often than not it has little bearing on a team's performance. Just look at Brazil in the lead up to 2002 - they almost didn't make it, yet they went on to win the whole thing. If you only went by qualifying, you'd have said they had no chance. And you'd have been utterly, utterly wrong.

  • Comment number 58.

    "...and he will remain confident these were one-off aberrations."
    I, myself personally think they wouldn't be aberrations if they weren't one-off.


  • Comment number 59.

    I am convinced that Milner has to be on the plane next summer, ahead of Young, SWP, Lennon, Bentley, Beckham... possibly Downing and Joe Cole if they don't get the games. He has international experience in spades (despite last night being his senior debut) and so will not be put off by rotating squads, physical presence that matches his technical ability and the vision to pick out a killer pass.

  • Comment number 60.

    "Surely by now it is time that Capello realised that some of our much laided "stars" are not good enough. The hype about Ashley Young is laughable. Just another SWP head down, run like the wind, do nothing at the end of it. These two should both be discarded immediately.

    James Milner produced more positives in five minutes than Ashley Young did in a hour."

    have to agree,

    to me it makes no sense ashley young playing on the left side. He just does what every right footed player does on that side i.e. constantly cut in on his right foot. Admittedly Gerrard does the same when he plays there but he is a hell of a better player than young.

  • Comment number 61.

    Well Done J Defoe. Cannot believe that Erikkson did not take you to the last world cup. just shows what kind of amanager he was.

    Just hope you continue banging in the goals for England and especially for Spurs against Liverpool this weekend.

    Keep Up the good work JD

  • Comment number 62.

    The season hasn't started yet, nice excuse. The WC will be played after a long hard season, the next excuse to be rolled out.

  • Comment number 63.

    Shambolic first half? I thought England matched the Dutch & made two rediculous errors. At half time I wasn't too perturbed (which one normally would be at 2-0 down). And justifiable England were rewarded with a draw in an excellent second half performance. Carlton Cole certainly played well & Milner caused more problems than Young. Defoe's first was very well taken. Shame England didn't go on to win it in the end.

  • Comment number 64.

    Any criticsm of Rooney is just laughable and those who indulge should get their coat.

    Lampard on the other hand continues to be an 'enigma'. Van der Vaart made Lampard look as ordinary a midfielder as he is. And he's no Xavi. Yes, he is always capable of sniffing a loose ball, but he has no place in a holding role since he can't tackle, and as ever his passing and distribution is average and uninspiring. Floated balls that just go out, short passes that are so slow that they put the recipient in unnecessary trouble.

    The reason England look disjointed and predicable is because Lampard continues to be given the strings to pull. Beckham would do an infinately better job, with sharp incisive passes and clever looping balls around or over a defender. He can stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Xavi and Iniesta to some degree; at least on the same planet called World Class. Lampard is on another planet entirely.

    And don't think for a second that Carrick is the answer. At least he can pass, but lets kindly call him languid.

    We have our wingers; we have some strikers, if we can keep them fit; we have our defenders. What we need are midfielders who can play short and long passes quickly, who can open a defence with a moment of genius. We can't rely on Beckham alone, to make those chances.

  • Comment number 65.

    Not a bad performance although I agree that the Dutch were a much changed side at half time. They seem to have a lot of class in midfield and some good players up front - but the defence is hardly intimidating. Like everyone else, I was chuffed to bits with Defoe and Cole who really look good. I must say I was slightly disappointed with Ashley Young and in particular Glenn Johnson last night.
    When I see Young playing for England I think he seems to look a little out of depth, but we should keep giving him opportunity as long as he's on form for Villa and hope he'll come on in confidence.
    I was impressed with Johnson last year in England colours but he certainly looked a little 'pre-season' to me. He was always a second or two off the pace and didn't look comfortable when kicking or crossing the ball. He didn't seem to contribute an awful lot going forward and yet always seemed to be out of position defensively. Holland kept getting in behind him in that area and I though it was our only constat weakness. He's still our no. 1 right back but hopefully he'll get some form at Liverpool and keep his place in the side.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think that Dutch team was the worst I have seen in a very long time.. thye couldn't pass the ball from A-B. De jong, Matijsen, Oiijer and Heitinga all cannot command a starting place in a a bolton team.

    They team that played yesterday lacked the dutch usual technique and quality, very slow and poor defenders and the midfield was not exceptional.. I still think they could do with a return of Seedorf and Van der saar..inroductin of V.Nistelrooy and V.Bronchorst otherwise I see them packing there bags in the first round of the world cup..

    On the positive, England showed great character to come back but I don't see them going pass the 2nd round neither..nost of these so called big european teams will be shocked by the dark horses, the likes of South Korea, Australia and Ghana will produce surprising results...

  • Comment number 67.

    Jermaine to the rescue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 68.

    An overall decent performance last night, once again marred by sloppy mistakes. This is becoming indicative, especially early on in games and must be addressed.

    Previously, Spain enjoyed great possession against England and played attractively in front of us but created very little. That England team was largely second string and in fact created the better chances. But, once again, we largely gifted the two goals; overplaying deep in our own half for the first and with poor marking from a free kick for the second.

    We appear to pass for passing's sake and in doing so invite the opposition to squeeze up and pressure us into mistakes early on. I would suggest we hit channels early in games, effectively forcing the opposition to play in their half in a period of the game where mistakes are more likely and, in doing so, creating more time and room in midfield against an opposition who will inevitably be sitting deeper as a result. Predictability will devastate you - all the best teams mix it up!

    Another problem for me is the right back position. We must find someone with the tactical awareness to defend first and foremost. Glenn Johnson's performance last night would have any defensive coach pulling their hair out. His starting position for a full back was too advanced; if John Terry hadn't relentlessly covered him the scoreline could have been embarrassing.

    That said, the rest of the perfomance was very encouraging once more, with the fringe players more than proving their capabilities. If we play in the right areas and cut out the mindless mistakes, England really could be contenders.

  • Comment number 69.

    #64 GenesisRed

    Can you tell me when a 'floated ball' becomes a 'cleverly looped ball' please?

    By no means an exceptional performance from Lampard but one where the midfield ticked over nicely, posession was retained and the ball was distributed left, right and through the middle.

    You don't have to run around like a headless chicked or attempt Hollywood balls that have limited success to be efficient in your role.

  • Comment number 70.

    There seems to be alot of Harsh criticism on Young. It was his first start for England and the service he recieved was poor. When Beckham is in the team everybody seems to feel everything needs to be played down the right.

    Also Young had to play in front of Ashley Cole who likes to get forward and attack. Milner got to play in front of Bridge who stays back and allows the winger to his job. Milner is a good player but every Villa fan will tell you whos the more important player. Ashley Young is the best winger in England give him chance.

  • Comment number 71.

    Phil your final comment - "It all made for a sympathetic Capello as he starts this vital 12 months - but his air of authority ensures England's players will know such carelessness will not be tolerated in the future" - I fully agree with.
    Having watched recent England qualifying performances and listened to Capello's (public) comments on these, including those yesterday, I do think for the first time since Alf Ramsey (all due respect to Sir Bobby Robson) England has a manager who actually knows what is required and is personally capable of successfully managing a winning World Cup side - before anyone starts telling me its down to the players, obviously in the end its the players who will, or will not perform; however it is the managers strategy, his man-management skills and his tactics that set the targets and guide the performances - oh and also he picks the team!!

  • Comment number 72.

    Two stupidly conceded goals gifted by players who should know better, and I wonder if Barry may have harmed his chances of starting next summer. I don't quite get the point of Gareth Barry for England. They need a left sided midfielder, so if they stuck him wide that would make sense. He's not really much of a tackler, doesn't score very often, isn't a particularly brilliant passer, so what exactly is he supposed to be doing out there. One thing he absolutely cannot do is pass the ball straight to an opposing forward 25 yards from goal.

    As for Rio, when he's on he's one of the best in the world, but isn't he supposed to be five years past stupid mental errors like that? Good to see Becks haing a go at him after the goal.

    Other than that, on balance I thought England were the better side, which would be quite an accomplishment away from home at the third team in FIFA's rankings. Cole was a revelation, showing all of Heskey's ability to hold the ball up, but with more speed and skill. Let's hope he gets as much experience as summer between now and the World Cup. Defoe has always had the talent, it's a matter of being able to do it consistently. Lots of very encouraging options, and let's not forget Walcott and Gerrard were missing last night. Glenn Johnson - £17 million? Rafa, what were you thinking?

  • Comment number 73.

    If the squad was being picked now I'd go for Rooney, Defoe, Heskey and Crouch. Carlton Cole could push his way into contention if he has a good season with West Ham. As for Owen I think he's made the wrong move for his England career by going to United. I don't think he'll be playing as much as he needs to be with the strikers they have at their disposal. I'm not a fan of Bent but I think he'll stand a better chance of pushing his way into the squad than Owen as I think he'll get a run of games at Sunderland.

    As for last night's game. Yes we gave the ball away too cheaply and the goals were dreadful mistakes, but we came back well in the 2nd half. There were lively performances from the players mentioned like Milner, Cole and Defoe.

    At the end of the day it was another good experience for the squad and for Capello to see how the team reacts in adversity. Also to see how individual players react after mistakes and how the leaders on the pitch lift the team after such basic errors. Whenever you play a quality team who play decent football like the Dutch do its never a wasted game. Capello will have taken the positives from it and they'll be used either in the remaining qualifying matches or when the real thing gets started next Summer.

  • Comment number 74.

    I'm not sure how you can say that 'England looked pedestrian and technically inferior to the Dutch in the first half'- apart from the mistakes from Ferdinand and Barry, the two teams were relatively well balanced.

  • Comment number 75.

    I think England should try and change things around, in terms of players, formation and tactics. I've always thought with a bit of practice 3-5-2 would be a good formation for us. I do think Beckham has nothing left to offer his 'speciality' is long balls, something england would be better off without. I think Lampard has been inneffective trying to change his game, and should really be benched. what ever happened to Micah Richards there was a period where the right back spot was his??

  • Comment number 76.

    Pretty dull stuff last night but Defoe is a class act.

  • Comment number 77.

    I disagree with the suggestion the game was pointless. I would not tell Defoe, Milner and Carlton Cole it was pointless. It allowed them to make a real statement of intent to England coach Fabio Capello.

    Strange timing yes, but not pointless.

    People should not be too harsh on Ashley Young. He is still in his infancy as an England international, but Milner created the better impression. He was direct and got dangerous crosses into the box. Excellent.

    Another post questioned whether Gareth Barry's mistake would put his place in jeopardy. I don't think so. Capello is a big admirer and he will believe this was a one-off error. It was certainly out of character.

    What do England fans feel about the goalkeeping position? Is this a worry?

  • Comment number 78.

    And when England have to perform in a tournament? Dont make me laugh, Terry needs to keep his crass comments about an assualt on the World Cup until they are in the final, in which case they will get my plaudits as we will have learnt how to play in tournament football, until then zip it.

  • Comment number 79.

    Those who are quick to criticise Ashley Young, were not watching the same match.

    No one bothered to notice that as soon as Ashley Young came off, Holland stopped having two players marking our left sided midfielder. Young found it difficult to move around and gather the ball because Holland worked out how to play against him: mark him with two men and prevent a midfielder or left fullback from moving in to take the pressure off. Added the fact players such as Rooney and Lampard were always too willing to keep the ball and lose it, not pass it out wide.

    By the time Milner comes on, Holland are already on the rocks, looking tired and obviously not bothered about the outcome of the match. Therefore Milner is allowed to look better because he has lots of space behind the fullback to cross or run into the box. If it were Ashley Young replacing James Milner lastnight I think everyones praise would be reversed.

  • Comment number 80.

    The goalkeepin area is of slight concern. However if Foster gets a good run for Man Utd and starts to keep Van de Sar out the team, I can see him starting next summer, if we qualify that is. If Foster fails to do that then Green, Robinson, Kirkland and Hart all have very good chances of displacing James as Englands no1 if they have great seasons. It could become one of Capellos biggest selection headaches due to the quality coming through. Of course it could go the otherway round and all have horrid season. Interesting times ahead.

  • Comment number 81.

    How can anybody possibly suggest that this game is pointless? I know the Premier League starts this Saturday but next year it's World Cup year!! I am sure that Defoe, Milner, Young, Carlton Cole and Beckham didn't think it was pointless!
    Ferdinand is normally a solid rock in defence but he can't afford to be that casual at the World Cup because he will be instantly punished.
    My main concern for England though is STILL the goalkeeping position. Some may not agree with me but I think this is a major worry as none of England's current goalkeepers have shown to be solid enough on the international stage (apart from Hart who played well for the under-21s).
    Foster is good but very injury-prone, I certainly would never risk playing James in a major game (he has consistently shown in international games that he is far too mistake-prone), Robinson is not good at corners so for me Capello has to choose between Green and Hart in goal.
    What a night for Defoe!

  • Comment number 82.

    #75 akaconstantprogress

    Why change to 3-5-2? Do any teams really use that system? I don't think any of the players use that system at their clubs.

    4-4-2 is what the players know so it's just a question of finding the right blend with the ones that are available.

    I think Beckham, out of all the contenders, still uses the ball to the best effect out on the right. I would like to see him hold the touchline more because when I hear the commentators saying 'Beckham is coming in field to find the game' I think that is bad.

    Barring individual errors, the defence is ok, though perhaps the right back spot is still up for grabs.

    The big man/little man combo works up front and we have a variety of players that can do that.

    That just leaves the centre of midfield and the left wing. Not quite settled, but Lampard acting in a slightly withdrawn capacity has helped get a 100% return in qualiyfing. Why change?

  • Comment number 83.

    Were you watching the same match as me Phil???

    I thought we were excellent in the first half, we defended in the Dutch half awith excellent pressure from the forwards and the midfield, we created a few chances but Young was marked out the game. Beckham had an industrious game and going forward Lampard and Barry did ok.

    Barring the defensive blunders I didn't think we did too badly in the first half, although the back 5 in general looked a little shakey.

    The second half we were a more dynamic and I think we out-footballed one of the best footballing countries there are.

  • Comment number 84.

    Yes, goalkeeping is a major worry. Three years ago we all thought David James had played his last game for England, now he's their best hope, by a long way. Green looked uncertain on a few occasions last night, although that is probably largely due to not having played many times with the back four in front of him. England need to know their back four and keeper now, and spend the next 10 months making sure they collectively know what each other is doing, and getting rid of the stupid errors which have led to some laughable goals, starting with the Neville bobblig back pass against Croatia three years ago.

    And I'm not sure dismissing Almunia out of hand was Capello's wisest move. "Almunia is for me, Spanish" ....and therefore can't play for us, according to England's Italian head coach.

  • Comment number 85.

    Capello off his bench to shout instructions. Plans A, B, C and plenty of options ... The days of Sven are truly over. Fabio's shown - and you could see it even against those minnow teams in our group - that he's not satisfied with mediocre, and will change the team to great effect when it needs to be done.

    the first half last night was pedestrian, but apart from the 2 gifts, the Dutch didn't really make their technical prowess count in the last third. plenty of pretty shapes and very comfortable on the ball, but our defence (Johnson aside) dealt with them just as comfortably.

    actually, make no mistake: if Johnson had scythed that fella down in a competitive match, he'd probably be off the park. but he'll learn loads at Liverpool - if Raffa lets him play. I'm glad he went for so much money, because that's an incentive for Raffa to make good on the investment.

    as we all saw, Carlton Cole was a revelation. Zola's obviously had some input into his development. Big, strong and very long! The Cloggies couldn't get near him.

    Milner had a Johnnie in his pocket! Heitinger was a bully in the first half, but coundn't get near a single ball in the second. there's a good reason James the Villan looks so comfortable in an England shirt: he's no stranger to it. he's been an important player for the U21's for some time, and Pearce knows lots about him.

    Defoe will be in SA if he stays fit. I think this will be his best season. he's got everything to play for at a great team, with 'Arry and Crouchy around him and a world cup as his prize at the end. don't forget that JD was injured for much of last year after his move from Pompey. he was scoring freely before the move, and scored freely again once he recovered.

    I don't think poor mistreated, twittering Bent will be in the Southern Hemisphere next year tho, do you?

  • Comment number 86.

    Like a few others, I cannot understand the criticism of the first half. Besides two schoolboy errors i thought we played well.

    The thing that stands out for me the most with Capello's England, even at 1-0 and 2-0 down you knew that we would come back into the game. You cannot say that for any recent England sides.

  • Comment number 87.

    75. At 11:34am on 13 Aug 2009, akaconstantprogress wrote:

    I think England should try and change things around, in terms of players, formation and tactics. I've always thought with a bit of practice 3-5-2 would be a good formation for us. I do think Beckham has nothing left to offer his 'speciality' is long balls, something england would be better off without. I think Lampard has been inneffective trying to change his game, and should really be benched. what ever happened to Micah Richards there was a period where the right back spot was his??

    Honestly sometimes I despair at people's much as they are entitled to them! I mean how on Earth can you say Lampard has been ineffectively trying to change his game and should be benched!?

    Last night was yet another showing of why he is such a fantastic player and is a must for the England team. He played very well, doing his job for the team, changing his own natural game, setting up the first goal with a quick thinking and well executed pass and not getting the credit he deserves as always. For me he was actually over the 90 minutes our man of the match (although Defoe was excellent in his 45 minutes).

    His passion and commitment for England is also something which needs to be recognised and replicated by his team mates. Even the biggest of Lampard critics have started to praise him for his all round game.

  • Comment number 88.

    I don't think that England played poorly in the first half at all, in fact I think they did quite well. The thing I find difficult to grasp is the fact that having already made a mistake, Ferdinand then attempted to pass the ball across the penalty area, the golden rule that would have been drummed into him at schoolboy level. For a 30-year-old international to do that was criminal, hopefully it was a one-off and not a switch back to his lacksadaisical younger days. Barry's error was stupid as well, but aside from that they played alright.

    Second half was much better - for Defoe, Milner and Cole to play so well can only be good, as it gives Capello further options and puts pressure on the likes of Lampard, who looked a little too comfortable last night. It's also good to know that England have strength in depth and don't need to hang their hats on the likes of Gerrard or Rooney, who didn't really get into the game when he was on the pitch. Under Capello they seem to always play strongly in the second half - now time to stop gifting opponents head starts.

    Concerns are thus: Glen Johnson had a very poor game against Robben, who tore him to pieces at times. Ferdinand looked too relaxed, while Young was largely well shackled, which wasn't his fault, but his final delivery left plenty to be desired. A mixed bag but more positives than negatives for sure.

  • Comment number 89.

    Although Ferdinand is an excellent player, in a metaphorical 'fight to the death' where England have to win in adversity I wouldn't want him on my team. I don't think he has the heart of a Gerard or Rooney.

  • Comment number 90.

    "Another post questioned whether Gareth Barry's mistake would put his place in jeopardy. I don't think so. Capello is a big admirer and he will believe this was a one-off error. It was certainly out of character.

    What do England fans feel about the goalkeeping position? Is this a worry?"

    i would say that barry is not the answer at centre mid for England. With two players both sitting deep for the majority of the time in Cappello's system i think Carrick should be given due consideration for the place alongside Lampard. He played brilliantly against Germany, was adequate last night (better than Barry) and his range of passing is far superior to Barry's. As it stands, with Gerrard on the left and Lampard playing deeper, the only player in centre mid playing a natural role is barry...i would prefer someone with a bit more talent playing in there.

    as for goalies, personally i haven't seen enough of Green to make judgment on him...but he looks solid enough from what i've seen without being spectacular...guess we'll have to see how things pan out for the number 1 slot...but yer it is a worry cos if we take an inexperienced goalie to the world cup then you know, being England, it will blow up in our face...ditto for D James

  • Comment number 91.

    I only watched the first half, which gives me a distorted view on the game however I would like to put forward a few subjects for discussion about the game.

    1. Barry's lack of creativity in the middle of the park, which to me consisted entirely of chip up to Heskey.... get the ball back... chip into Heskey again.
    2. Subsequent to 1. Heskey's lack of creativity with the ball which consists of collect, shield, jog back to midfield and pass it back or collect, shield then proceed to fall over.
    3. Would Beckham in the middle provide more creative elements to England's strategy? Should Heskey/A.N.other target man be dropped? Taking into consideration that Lamps, Gerrard, Rooney and some quality, young wide players exist in the England setup. Wouldn't a shorter passing (like that employed by the top 4 in the Prem) game be more successful?

  • Comment number 92.

    There used to be a famous sportsman in the USA who went under the nickname of Magic Johnson. I was only able to see the second half of the game against Holland (so do not know if he was any better in the first half) however we have a right back who would be rightly called Tragic Johnson. He could not pass to one of his team mates, whas constantly outpaced and finally did a silly foul just outside the box - which could easily have resulted in a Holland winger.

    If he s the best right back we have got then heaven help us as we will need it

  • Comment number 93.

    Phil, what are your opinions of Shaun Wright-Phillips?

    I think he has gone backwards since leaving Man City, which is a real shame as I once thought he would be the ideal replacement for Beckham.

    Last night, I have heard his display described as "lively" but all I saw was he continually getting out muscled or running the ball out of play when there was limited space.

    Long gone are the days that he would cut inside and hit a fierce shot into the top corner.

    I think he has become too one dimensional, hopefully this season at Man City will see this side of his game improve because our right side is still up for grabs.

  • Comment number 94.

    #86 "The thing that stands out for me the most with Capello's England, even at 1-0 and 2-0 down you knew that we would come back into the game. You cannot say that for any recent England sides."

    i think uv hit the nail on the head there...I felt the same watching it last night...all the players have been saying Capello has instilled the self belief back into them (yer i know, they say that everytime) but this time it seems proved by performances on the pitch...rather than in press conferences

  • Comment number 95.

    Without seeming to realise it Phil, you've put your finger on the problem when you said "Ferdinand and Barry have been two of England's most reliable performers ".

    The emphasis should be on "have been". England's problem for years now is fielding "has-beens" and it continues under Capello, to our cost.

  • Comment number 96.

    Capello would do well to take the English defence and show them some L1 and L2 games to see the basics done well. I'm not sure any competitive team in the lower divisions would have made short passes to the centre of the defensive third with two or three attacking players lurking, especially ones of the calibre of the Dutch. When you receive the ball in that area, you go outside and pass down the line. Dithering and passing into the middle with opposition players within 20 yards is an absolute cardinal sin. Ferdinand had so much space to his right, I really don't know what he was thinking, or if there was even a lightbulb present, let alone switched on.
    We need at least two decent keepers, with so many currently feeling the Calamity James effect, we have serious problems in goal. Green did fairly well but I don't think he's ready. He seemed to me to lack a bit of presence, although his cause wasn't helped by the row of clowns in front. On a positive note, it's great to see such lively young midfield and attacking players who appear to actually care about playing for England, rather than a certain few who take it as read that they'll be there, no matter how inconsistent their performances.
    Will England's chances at the World Cup simply end up being a case of "we will concede lots, but the plan is to score more"?

  • Comment number 97.

    Mr Blue Burns

    Lampard is the hindrance in the side. For 5 years now managers have tried to accomodate Lamps and Gerrard. Whilst Gerrard hasn't been playing, the whole of England has seen that you cant play Lampard at all, unless he has the cover of Mikel, Makelele and Essien. Lampard should be dropped. Other than score when the ball falls to him ( and only for Chelsea ), what does he actually bring to the team? His passing is okay, he can't tackle, doesn't score headers and isn't skillfull or very fast.
    The midfield should be Hargreaves when fit, with Gerrard in a advanced role. Lampard on the bench, only used if we play 4-2-3-1

    Beckham is a good user of the ball, but as someone said earlier, we always play down the right with him on the pitch and its so predictable. I'd like to see Young and Milner on the wings more often and in competitive games.
    Rooney upfront, and when fit it has to be Owen upfront. Defoe as a sub.

  • Comment number 98.

    Another thing I would like to see, and I'm surprised league clubs don't do it in friendlies, is a period of 20 minutes in a couple of matches where we take an extra player off and practice playing with 10 men on the pitch. The quality of international refereeing is extremely unpredictable and FIFA seem to be very much against the relatively fast-paced 'tough' English style of football and seem to be against appealing red cards too. I think it's worth practicing.

  • Comment number 99.

    Phil, England were not technically inferior in the first half: they were actually pretty comfortable in possession; if anything the slower tempo and desire to keep the ball was what resulted them passing the ball around sloppily at the back - they were so unused to keeping the ball for more than 3 or four passes without someone like gerrard looking for a 45 yard 'killer' ball that they couldn't handle it and Rio forgot that he could pass the ball more than 10 metres at any one time! England were actually technically inferior (as we know "passing football" = "technical superiority") in the second half when Rio started humping aimless punts forward rather than get caught with his pants down again and we scored our goals as the result of quick, direct, early passing...England players don't know what to do with the ball if they're not trying to play directly

  • Comment number 100.

    I thought both the goals were partly the fault of Rob Green...passing the ball out to defenders who were under pressure and few options.

    OK Rio and Barry made the mistakes but given the pressure Holland were putting on the defenders he should have given it a kick or waited for the Dutch forwards to retreat.

    Green is a decent shot stopper but definitely not an England goalkeeper!


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