BBC BLOGS - Phil McNulty
« Previous | Main | Next »

Capello relishes night to remember

Post categories:

Phil McNulty | 00:40 UK time, Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Fabio Capello insists he only needs a slim vocabulary of 100 English words to communicate with his players - and he summed up their draw against Ghana with 99 to spare.

"Fantastic" was Capello's considered and entirely correct verdict on a night when Ghana's supporters illuminated Wembley and the Black Stars combined with England to deliver one of the finest friendlies the stadium has seen in recent times.

Asamoah Gyan's injury-time equaliser, and the celebrations that followed among 21,000 visiting fans, was a reminder of the magic Ghana brought to the South African summer when they fell just short of reaching the World Cup semi-finals.

Gyan's goal cancelled out Andy Carroll's first international goal and deprived England of victory, but even Capello could not stop himself breaking out into a broad smile at the final whistle after another rewarding night.

Ghana's Derek Boateng carries goalscorer Asamoah Gyan

The passion of Ghana's players and fans shone through at Wembley. Picture: Getty Images

The harsh claims that Capello was somehow cheating supporters by fielding a shadow side after beating Wales in the Euro 2012 qualifier in Cardiff were made to look nonsensical as the carnival of African colour splashed across one end of Wembley was matched by the vibrant, end-to-end, action offered up by Ghana and England.

If this was the paying public being cheated, or Ghana supposedly being shown a lack of respect by England, then you suspect every one of the 80,102 inside Wembley will settle for it every time. Wembley has seen a few devalued friendlies in its time - this was not one of them.

It was, in almost every respect bar its status as a friendly, a more compelling and competitive fixture than the comparative walkover in Wales.

Capello said: "This was not a friendly game. Every tackle was a fight. It was a really exciting game for the fans as well as being an important game for the players.

"It was a really, really good physical game. We played to win and Ghana played every moment going forward. It is never easy to call a game like that a friendly."

England made a major contribution to the spectacle, but so much credit must go to Ghana and their fans. If the celebrations that followed Gyan's goal, a slick piece of sleight of foot that left the unimpressive Joleon Lescott floundering, are an accurate measure of reaction, the mind boggles at how they might have celebrated further winners at the World Cup.

Every piece of their participation was a pleasure, from the exuberance of their attacking play and the fervour of their support through to their splendid press officer, resplendent in bow tie, who concluded affairs by thanking all for their involvement and light-heartedly looking forward to the return leg in Accra.

If there is a guarantee it would be anything like this, then the Football Association should take up our flamboyant friend on his offer and confirm the arrangements today.

And it brought a joyous end to an England get-together that has often become mired in the sideshow of the captaincy debate, the quality of Capello's English, the motives behind his team selection and his advice to Liverpool's £35m striker Carroll to watch his alcohol intake.

This was intoxicating enough to be going on with and Ghana's determination to show what they are made of, and that their excellent World Cup was no fluke on African soil, meant this was an examination that allowed Capello to learn more about his squad.

And, despite the disappointment of Gyan's late goal, there was plenty of encouragement for Capello to take forward into the remainder of England's Euro 2012 campaign.

Capello's welcome flexibility in using a fluid 4-3-3 system in Cardiff (or 4-1-4-1 depending on whether England have the ball or not) continued against Ghana and once again the signs were promising.

Aston Villa's Ashley Young flourished again, making up for hitting the bar with a simple chance by combining with Stewart Downing to create Carroll's goal just before the interval.

Downing was another plus for Capello in a formation that allows width to thrive and serve a striker in the Carroll mould, although Darren Bent leads the pecking order after these two internationals.

Carroll's display confirmed what we know about his current circumstances. He is short of match fitness, rough around the edges and this all showed in a mixed bag of a performance before he was taken off after an hour.

He is, however, the perfect raw material for Kenny Dalglish to work with at Anfield and Capello to profit from with England. If he stays fit he may be quite a handful for defences to cope with should England reach Poland and the Ukraine.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

Gyan dedicated his goal to Ghana's fans

Jack Wilshere was given another hour of international action by Capello, proving again that he is a perfect fit for England. Capello, again, did not need to waste too many words of his maligned command of English to sum up the precocious Arsenal teenager.

"Wilshere is a player," said Capello. Short. Simple. And we knew exactly what he meant.

Everton's Leighton Baines showed why he is now the accepted deputy to Ashley Cole while goalkeeper Joe Hart was excellent, one bad kick apart, in the face in Ghana's constant menace.

Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill were fully tested by Gyan and company with mixed success, although the gifted striker reserved the real torment for poor Lescott, who may have sleepless nights before the pair meet again when Sunderland travel to Manchester City on Sunday.

There was even time for the introduction of new England faces in the shape of Wolves winger Matt Jarvis and Danny Welbeck, currently on loan to Sunderland from Manchester United and the recipient of a rough ride from Ghana's fans for apparently preferring to pledge allegiance to England despite eligibility for the Black Stars.

Even that moment of rancour was forgotten amid the tumultuous reaction to Gyan's equaliser - and the joy of John Pantsil racing around Wembley at the final whistle brandishing the Ghanaian flag.

It was a sight that summed up a thoroughly memorable Wembley night. If this was an advert for a meaningless, devalued friendly designed to leave the public feeling short-changed, then let's have more of them.

You can follow me at and join me on Facebook.


Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Once again an England performance is overrated. They played decent but they should have done much better, The second half was dire and there was only one team in it. Let's not forget that this was against a Ghana team which play attacking football and leave space behind. It will be inetersting to see how England play against a defensive team. In my opinion yesterday's team would have been annihilated by a team like Spain.

    We all know England crack under pressure and last night there was no pressure at all. No wonder the players looked more relaxed and played better than in the world cup.

  • Comment number 2.

    Very well said. How marvellous for so many not-regularly-first-choice players to boost their claims for future selection. Ashley Young looks born to wear an England shirt and Carroll will be knocking them in like Shearer if he continues to develop at the current rate. Ghana were terriffic and wonderfully exciting to watch. However, credit to Capello for putting out a side so keen to play expansive, fearless football.

  • Comment number 3.

    Someone always has to have a moan, dont they.

    It was a good game, a good England performance and a good Ghana performance, regardless of the friendly status.

    Both teams were playing to win, and the result is secondary to how well England performed against a very good team. Ghana are not Spain, of course, but then nobody is. At least England didnt appear clueless and confused as they did so often during the World Cup. Not to mention that competition for places is now much more acute, which should shake up the regular players to lift their game in the future.

  • Comment number 4.

    #1 So if you know everything already, why bother playing/watching? Tell us who's gonna win the next tournament and let's hand them the trophy already. You, mup! Enjoy a great night of football and shut it.

  • Comment number 5.

    Well done scholestacklingcoach you got up early to post the first comment, and made it as miserable as possible.
    You say England would struggle against the best team in the world. Really?
    Lets enjoy last nights friendly for what it was, an entertaining match, played in a carnival atmosphere. Better than any friendly I can rememeber.

  • Comment number 6.

    @1 Is your real name "Scooge" by any chance. Yes, England would get hammered by Spain. That's why they are World and European Champions. How joyless can you get? It was great entertainment against a very good team, or does the fact they are African explain your comment that England "should have done much better?"

  • Comment number 7.

    It's been a while since I've seen England dominate possession to such an extent at the start of a match. I don't think Ghana had more than 2 touches in the first 10 mins. All credit to them they played very well, and it's good to see that England can play good expansive attacking football without the 'old guard'. Let's hope we see these players (and others) get more chances in the future, and not a return to old ways. We just need to get the crossing sorted out, some very wayward stuff in the first half.

    These players are the way forward, let's not look back any more.

    On a side note, anyone saying 'it's only Ghana', remember they are WC 1/4 finalists, and ranked above teams like France and the USA. They are no pushovers.

  • Comment number 8.

    A pleasing performance, finally a friendly worth watching! Second half we weren't great, but after substitutions teams often struggle to find their rhythm.

    One player who nobody's mentioned is Cahill, I thought he looked at home in the England team, and was always the better of him and his partner. A bit rough round the edges perhaps, but I'd like to see more of him in an England shirt.

  • Comment number 9.

    England played very well last and showed in the first 45 minutes that they are capable of playing a high pressing and short passing game. In the second half we reverted somewhat to type searching for the long ball and giving it away too quickly (tiredness and 5+ changes probably led to this). But overall this is very encouraging against a very strong side.

    It does make me wonder why we persist with Lampard, Terry, Rooney etc...the supposed B team was more than a match for Ghana and all the players looked much more comfortable on the ball than the Golden boys and played with a great spirit.

    I would like to see these players given more chances to show their talents at this level (you dont play you dont learn).

  • Comment number 10.

    Strikers wise, Carroll didn't look that great, I still have doubts about his pedegree, but at the end of the day scoring is his job and he did that. Couple that with the fact that he's not 100% match fit and I think it's fair to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    In my opinion Defoe looked poor when he came on, couple that with patchy club form and it's hard to see him featuring much in the future England set up.

  • Comment number 11.

    I am wondering why nobody talked about the build up to the Carol goal. He pushed Isaac Vorsah before he took of to score the goal. Am I the only person who saw that? And the referee was just by. I wanna know from the house if am the only one who saw that.

  • Comment number 12.

    That was one of the first England games I've enjoyed in ages.

    They're obviously not the finished article, but the style of football is great to watch and works very well. We actually have a bit of flair in our game again, and seem much more fluid compared to the rather square team of old.

    Granted once the substitutions were made, we lost our way a little. I just hope when the "big stars" come back we won't revert to the old ways of playing. I'd liken last nights game, similar in some ways to the young German team in World Cup 2010, and much more effective than we normally are.

  • Comment number 13.

    Perfectly summed up Phil!
    I was at the Ghana game and randomly slap bang in the middle of the Ghana stand and when Gyan equalised I couldn't of been happier! Great game, great fans and it was great to see players such as young, downing and cahill being given the chance to show what they can do.
    Can't give enough credit to Ghana, let's play them in a 'meaningless' friendly every time!

  • Comment number 14.

    Good to see an England side with the shackles off. If only the "full side" could build similar attacks. I reckon there is the old school playing field mentality when Gerrard et al play in that they shout at people for making a mistake, so to avoid being shouted at, people like lennon (an example) just play a simple inside ball rather than attack the byline. Last night Young was fantastic and he linked well with Baines. Shame his, Downing's and milner's final ball lacked a bit. Carroll still getting back to full fitness wasn't helped by the sometime rank crossing.

    All in all a promising performance from a new team.

  • Comment number 15.

    Oh and #1. I think you would actually moan if England won the world cup!

  • Comment number 16.

    The future is bright for English football.

    So refreshing to actually pass forward with pace, rather than Lampard's mindnumbing sideways passes.

    Wilshere is at the heart of it.

    Lots of room for improvement, but at last I think we are seeing the light.

  • Comment number 17.

    Good article that encapsulated the night perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed a lovely night of entertainment and football. My only disagreement being your comment ' despite the disappointment of Gyan's late goal '. I wasn't, they deserved it and I was glad, what a superb piece of skill. Thank you Ghana for your marvellous contribution and England for playing ' outside the box '.

  • Comment number 18.

    Great 1st half, got a bit ropey in the second. How Downing got man of the match is beyond me! 4 or 5 England players and 1 or 2 Ghana players were better. Should have gone to Barry or Cahill as they both looked class! Also have to say I love watching Hart in goal. Commanding at crosses, a great shot stopper but you never quite know what's going to happen with a back pass or a simple save. Everything a keeper should be!

  • Comment number 19.

    A friendly that was vibrant, competitive and entertaining. All due to the refreshing spirit in which Ghana treated the match. The lesson surely is that England should arrange more friendlies against the emerging nations of Africa. Such teams bring more passion and energy to these occasions and treat the matches as an honour and a chance to show their worth rather than as a chore to be endured.
    And after last night, I would say; the future is bright, the future is Africa !!

  • Comment number 20.

    Great game and fair result. But this shows you where England sit in the grand scheme of things. A home draw against a team I believe ranked about 16 in the world. Sure it wasn't our first choice XI, but we're a long way off frightening the top nations. As mentioned on the commentary England (and Ghana) are at best a Quarter Final side.

  • Comment number 21.

    Top rated a neutral i totally enjoyed the exciting clash. Gyan's goal for me epitome's what playing football on the streets of africa is all to the Ghanian team and it's FA.9ja take cue.

  • Comment number 22.

    Its quite sad some fans cannot accept a decent effort was put in and not the usual lack lustre performance we have been used to like at the WC. The old guard should take note that they are not irreplaceable, and that does mean Rooney and Gerrard as well. The likes of Young, Wilshere, Carroll are the way forward, assuming they continue to progress. This young crop do need to be allowed the time to play together. But lets be more realistic with the expectation. We are very much unlikely to get far in the 2012 Euros and the 2014 WC will be also a bit too much of a reach. 2016 should be the first marker for the new bunch of players, with a view to 'go for it' in 2018. Holistically speaking, England should be looking to build squads / academies for 2018 and beyond. Its what the FA need to understand. Get some ex-players in the FA, these old folks havent a clue.

    One more thing, Ghananian fans and team did Africa proud, what a fantastic scene of colour and culture. Hats off.

  • Comment number 23.

    post 11..........yeah there was a push..................but the goal still stands.

  • Comment number 24.

    Scholestackling coach (#1) seemingly knows as much about football as Scholes does about tackling. Just think how great Scholes could have been with a better coach in that department.

    Entertaining game with some good performances from the "shadow" players. Ghana were always going to attack as they feel they have something to prove. They were good value at the WC and showed it was no fluke.

    Good seeing Capello sticking with the 4-3-3.

    England, despite their WC woes, should always have been considered certainties to qualify for Euro 2012, despite all the negativity from so may supposed "supporters". It is what happens whe they get there that will show how much they have progressed, if at all.

    Bringing through the youngsters, giving the "shadow" players a chance in games such as this, and playing different (and "better ") formations is the way to go, and bodes well for the future.

    Can onl hope that, by the time 2012 rolls around, the younsters are given their chance and the "old men" are put out to pasture. The Lampards et al have had their chance. Blood the youngsters at Euro 2012 and it will pay dividends for WC 2014.

  • Comment number 25.

    There were a lot of positives to take from the match, although I can't help thinking England should score more goals. There were definitely chances for England to go 2 or 3 up last night (not that Ghana didn't have their fair share as well) and also against Wales. It also seemed that when defending corners/other set plays, there was no real outlet for the defence and it seemed to invite increasing pressure.

    The 4-3-3 worked well, although I'm not sure it'll get the best out of Defoe, although that doesn't seem to matter given the form of Darren Bent or Andy Carroll (and Rooney, playing in a wider position). My previous sceptical comments about Barry may have been slightly misplaced, although I still feel Parker should get the nod ahead of him in the holding role. I think Downing's MoM was sort of deserved, he worked hard and put good balls into the box and some of his touches were excellent. Personally, I'd say Gyan had a better game, but you'd have to go with the crowd at that point right?

  • Comment number 26.

    #1 - I don't see how the performance is overrated. The formation worked well, England created some excellent chances and remembering this is our 2nd choice team.

    While Ghana were pressing forward in the 2nd half we still did pretty well defensively although Lescott was a bit poor at times and Gyan took his goal well England were not embarrassed at all. A good match, nice spectacle and an opportunity for some squad players to stake a claim which Young and Downing did to goo effect as did Cahill & Jagielka

  • Comment number 27.

    Something that was no remarked about during the TV coverage, was that Carroll committed a foul on his marker just before scoring ... he pushed him to the ground outside the box, then turned and ran into position from which to score (now unmarked) .... Carroll will be penalised for that sort of foul in a competitive match.

    A good ref would have disallowed the goal, and we would have been looking at a one nil loss to Ghana. What sort of headlines then?

  • Comment number 28.

    11. At 08:26am on 30th Mar 2011, Kofi Ken wrote:
    I am wondering why nobody talked about the build up to the Carol goal. He pushed Isaac Vorsah before he took of to score the goal. Am I the only person who saw that? And the referee was just by. I wanna know from the house if am the only one who saw that.

    He bustled past him and Vorsah was trying to impede him which is why the ref let it go. It was 50-50 bustling and Carroll is a big lad so he won it

  • Comment number 29.

    Thought Cahill was England's best player. Very, very self assured and he's comfortable on the ball. He's Rio's natural successor.

  • Comment number 30.

    @ scholestacklingcoach 'It will be inetersting to see how England play against a defensive team. In my opinion yesterday's team would have been annihilated by a team like Spain.'

    Really intelligent input. Spain are the best team in the world and hence would annihilate most teams.

  • Comment number 31.

    As well as this being a great test for a refreshingly new look England team which will put them in good stead for the future. This was a superb result and performance for the Ghana team (I include the fans in the word team because yesterday was the perfect example of fans supporting their team and the team playing for the fans I think this was the point that Rooney was trying to make in his on pitch outburst during the World cup ) ....There were people in some quarters like the tiresome Clive Tyldesley trying to put Ghana into the same box as the effect but carefree Cameroon team of 1990. 20 years later last night result showed that the bar has been raised for African football. It won't surprise me if this game becomes a more regular fixture considering the success the game attracted on an of the pitch. Being a Liverpool fan yesterday felt like audition for who could play will Andy Carroll at Anfield next season. Young and Dowing's names have been both linked played well but the person who caught my eye was Asamoah Gyan He worked the flanks brilliantly and the courage he showed to trust in his own ability rather than a easily lay off for the creation of his wonder goal was world class. If Liverpool had a strike force of Suarez, Carroll and Gyan, that 19th title would not be too far away.

  • Comment number 32.

    If we can moan when england play poorly, then we should be able to rejoice when they play well (although we could have done better)! The difference from the world cup to last night was night and day. its probably the first time you could say Capello has got it totally right. Baines, Young, Wilshere and Cahill were great. Question mark looms over Lescott and Jagielka is definantly not a right back!

  • Comment number 33.

    That game sums up the point of football - even if you don't win you enjoy watching!

  • Comment number 34.

    scholestacklingcoach - The first team got and will again get annihilated by Spain if we play them again any time soon, I fail to see the point in mentioning our 2nd team would.

  • Comment number 35.

    Loved the Ghana supporters. Wouldn't have begrudged them a winner just to see more celebrations. They played football with a smile on their face! Can't remember the last time Rooney, Lampard, Gezzard, et al smiled while playing for England. Was a wonderful atmosphere - Ghana must now be one of my favourite teaMS!

  • Comment number 36.

    Cahill had a great game. I just hope players like him will be given a chance in the qualifiers and just friendlies coz after all it was just a friendly.

    Its the first time in ages that i have watched an Engalnd and been thoroughly entertained all game and felt like turning off after 15 mins like ususal...long may it continue!

    and how refreshing is it to see positive comments after an England game! are we all feeling ok?? ha!

  • Comment number 37.

    Great atmosphere and decent game. England's passing first half was as good as it's been for some time.

    Lescott cost us form undeservedly holding on and shouldn't be in the squad anyway. He's what 6th/7th choice when everyone is fit. Smalling has been filling Ferdinand's boots with aplomb for his club and if we're prepared to throw Welbeck in then the same should apply to him.

    Best England performance by Downing so far, he was excellent. Barry also had a decent game.

    The second half subs really gave Ghana the impetus though they had threatened from some sloppy England play first half. Defoe for Carroll moved the outlet we had. Given he's got 2 league goals would Bent not have been a better bet after his goal in Wales? Welbeck on despite not really getting his form back after injury. Bringing Jarvis on for a central player so Downing had to go in the middle also left us disjointed. If the subs were made as I suspect primarily to rest those that went off then he should have picked a squad with more depth in those positions (right back, centre mid) rather than mucking around.

  • Comment number 38.

    Going to put a negative twist on this in that we've been here before, where we have played extremely well in games without this golden generation of players and eventually everyone (including the media) say that we have to go back to the golden players when they return and end up with the same mediocraty that we have complained about every tournament. Just feel this could be another false dawn.

    We'll soon be back to 4-4-2 with arguments of how we fit Gerrard and Lampard in the same team, and how we play with no width. So hope that this continues and is not just thrown away after today.

    I believe a forward 4 of Rooney, Young, Johnson and AN Other should be how we build our team strikforce. Wiltshire should be central to our midfield and our defense should be looking to be built around Jagielka, Cahill and Smalling. With Hart as our goalkeeper we should be looking at blooding these players now while they are still youngish and not in 3/4 years time when players are retiring.

    Would like to see us put out the strongest Under 21's we can possibly do no matter what the premiership managers may say. Success brings confidence and confidence brings success; and you only get success through development of talent.

    All in all, a good game to watch and hopefully we progress from here.

  • Comment number 39.

    #36 i mean not felt like turning off!

  • Comment number 40.

    Good blog Phil. I'm surprised by the first comment and disagree with the tone. Thought it was a great game and atmosphere, even the second half (unlike the dull second half of the Wales game!) At times first half England played some fast passing football. Some chances missed but 2 great saves from Hart helped us too. Ghana did their bit too and the work rate of their front players was evident. Slightly sloppy defending led to their goal - England not quite the same with the changes. Cahill, Barry, Carroll, Young, Downing at times played very well. Would've liked to see Scott Parker played second half but overall a great advert for football and fans.

  • Comment number 41.

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

  • Comment number 42.

    I think the first half was better by far. I agree with comments above that England did not make enough of an attacking impact in the second half against a very open team, that could be tiredness though rather than a lack of invention.

    One insight not yet made, I love Wilshere as a player but outside of his forte of sitting deep, tackling and turning over possession (which he has proved against Barca he is nearly world class) he showed last night he still has loads to learn when pushing forward. He lost the ball a lot, gave away fouls and was not nearly strong enough - albeit against a very physical Ghana side. I like him and he has enough ability to 'learn on the job'.

    In the second half it didn't seem obvious to Milner or Wilshere who was meant to be asking for the ball off Barry in the centre circle, they sometimes both seemed to be upfield or wide and we lacked an easy option in midfield and started to play complicated balls, which meant we surrendered possession.

  • Comment number 43.

    Good assured performance from a chopped and changed england side. Some stiff competition for places is always healthy. It is also nice to see we now have some cover at left back in leighton baines though i have not previously really rated him. In the past without ashley cole we would have been completely open at the back. Lucky for us he rarely gets injured i suppose! (touch wood)
    I think Hart had a good game and i believe he is quickly developing into a world class keeper hopefully someone who can pull on the england shirt for the next 10-15 years. Everyone knows the dominance of having someone like czech or van de sar in goal.
    Another comfortable performance from jack wilshere who is developing very quickly and seems confident and comfortable to play at the very top level. I would like to see Smalling get a half at CB though he has been looking fantastic for man u and i feel it would be much more beneficial to get him some experience then persistently playing lescot.
    Overall though it was a very enjoyable watch the ghana fans really lit up wembley and their and the players passion (from england as well for once) made the game what it was. And really who could begrudge them a wonderful goal to finish.

  • Comment number 44.

    We've beat the mighty Wales and now Ghana!! World Cup, here we come - unless of course, we get Andorra :(

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm really struggling to see how this is England's B team. They played smooth, attacking football in the first half and got the goal they deserved for it, whereas the so-called A team got a pretty lucky two goals early on against Wales and then sat around barely bothering for 75 minutes. I'd say it's time for the old switcheroo.

  • Comment number 46.

    Wait until the first game after the football season is over.

    Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney, Barry (back to his usual self) all back, and these players once again just making up the numbers.

    They could have won 473298472398749832 - 0 last night and it will still revert back for the next competitive match.

  • Comment number 47.

    38. At 09:15am on 30th Mar 2011, Viewfromverve

    Totally agree, we need to look forward to the next world cup and start planning now.

    I would have young rooney carrol and walcott, have carroll knocking the balls down for rooney gerrard and wilshere to burst from deep and young and wallcott to come in from wider positions.

    One thing which stuck me yesterday was our width, i cant remember englands wingers/fullbacks getting behind the full backs so much in recent years.

  • Comment number 48.

    Good to see that most posters seem to agree that it was a cracking game, played in a carnival atmosphere and at pace.
    When all were moaning of England's 'stars' being left out, I was thinking 'thank 'god' (sic) for that!' It was a great chance for some other players to prove themselves. It is a well known fact that when you play peripheral players, they play their heart out to make the most of their chance to shine. Gary Cahill was great as was little Jack Wilshere. Andy Carrol still lies in the maybe column, but what a great finish from the lad! If Young's final ball was better, we'd be talking about a superstar today. On a negative note - Downing? Man of the Match?
    That aside, it was a great occasion, Ghana more than played their part as we knew they would. The World Cup was no one hit wonder for The Black Stars, they combine power, pace and skill in a way unknown to European football. Can anyone name an England player of the last ten years that could've done what Gyan did for his goal? Fantastic.
    Long ago it was established that there are no easy internationals any more and increasingly formerly lesser nations are coming up on the outside to upset the favourites. Africa is the hotbed of this change, though Eastern Europe is on its way too and we could see a return to form from them not seen since the Soviet and Yugoslav days. Whatever anyone may think, it is great for football that is often purported to be going stale.
    I don't remember ever enjoying a friendly so much in all my life. Yes, it was broken up with the wave upon wave of substitutions, but it was a cut and thrust spectacle. Great positives can be taken and not even the most jingoistic of fellows could deny Ghana deserved to score. It had to be. Take any seriousness you want from the first half performance and admire our passing and ability to get in behind the back (one feels that if it were Lennon, Walcot or Adam Johnson instead of Downing, the score could've been higher by the interval).
    Before the game, I considered switching off to do something more constructive with my evening; within 3 minutes I was hooked for the remaining 87.
    A great advert for football.
    A great advert for the future of England
    And most importantly - a great advert for the bourgeoning hotbed of football shooting out from West Africa!
    Thanks Ghana, wish I'd been there.

  • Comment number 49.

    The only problem with Barry having a good game is that now he'll be loitering around the squad and team when I thought a poor performance could've put him out in the cold. I really hope that doesn't influence FC to playing him instead of Parker because for me Parker is still the form player and gives the team a good balance.

  • Comment number 50.

    Morning everyone...glad to see so many agreeing with me that this was a really exhilirating night on and off the pitch. I can't remember when I last enjoyed an England friendly as much as that.

    And Ghana will always be welcome visitors after the way their players approached matters on the pitch and their fans were so joyous off it. If you didn't enjoy that friendly then I'm not sure there are any that you ever will.

    Just a note to Revelation...the "disappointment" I was referring to re. Gyan's goal was Capello's rather than anyone else. I certainly wasn't disappointed, in fact it was thoroughly deserved and a fitting end to the night.

    I don't think the England fans begrudged Ghana their equaliser and I am not sure any friendly goal at Wembley has been greeted as ecstatically as that one.

    Plenty for Capello to take from it as well. Ghana are a very good side who came within an ace of the World Cup semi-finals.

    Let me know your thoughts on what we saw last night.

    Few pointers. Is 4-3-3 now the established way forward for England? It looked fluid again last night and is accepted by many as the preferred route in international football.

    Who had good nights and who had bad nights?

    Good nights for me were Hart, Baines, Cahill, Young, Downing and Wilshere. Bad night for Joleon Lescott again at international level.

    It was noted in some areas, as well as in my blog, that Cahill and Jagielka were really put to the test, and this was no surprise given the approach of Ghana and the talent of Gyan.

    Really like to hear from you today, not just on the Ghana game but also some general reflections on the two England games over the last few days.

  • Comment number 51.

    This is exactly the kind of managership Capello should be doing.

    Paying a foreign manager £6m, only to see him field only Big Four Champions League players in 4-4-2 formations again and again (something that any British manager could do in his sleep and Errickson did as a matter of course) always looked like a waste of money and showed them up for the mugs they really were.

    Blooding the B-side and up-and-comers in the qualifiers and friendlies and saving the so-called star players for the tournament proper is the very least that Capello should be doing to earn his pay. Do we really need to see Lampard, Rooney, Gerrard, Terry and all the other World Cup washouts again before 2012? Not if we have the courage of our convictions we dont.

    Yes, there were missed chances and yes, the defence cracked under pressure. So give them the further matches and support they need to to learn from their mistakes and prove themselves!

  • Comment number 52.

    A quick 1 to all of you. I mean some facts many don't know. England played against wales on Saturday and had a good rest. BUT GHANA played Congo in Brazzaville (Ghana won 3-0) before traveling 4000 miles to England. 98% of the players were already tired, but they played the English will glee, smiling and having fun, being cheerful.

    Now what if it was England who had to travel that 4000 miles and has only a dau to rest? What would Capello say? "our players were tired and did not have much rest?" like he said during the last world cup?

    Do you get my point? These Ghanaians played without people even spotting that they had played a competitive African Cup of Nations qualifier and had travelled 4000 miles across the Atlantic to game and still play the English with much joy and ecstasy. the lesson?

    We the English should learn some lessons here. And I guess we know that lesson.
    The atmosphere was wow. The fans made it so. I advise Capello to to always play Ghana as it's a good team and they have shown with their fans that, they are fun.

    Kudos to both teams!! King Asare

  • Comment number 53.

    1-1 was the end result. You can talk about the new England etc etc but it's the goals in the back of the net which count. Can anyone be really that happy with a draw?

    If Capello calls this result fantastic then you know his days are numbered.

    It wasn't a 4-3 thriller.

    This article exaggerates things. All sport is about taking the opportunities presented to you. In football more so. England didn't.

    England need to turn every draw into wins, build up clean sheets then we can start talk about England rebuilding. Some promising youngsters mean the future could well be bright but let's not ahead of ourselves.

    The media likes to overhype performances and yet again here is another example. One step at a time.

  • Comment number 54.

    @TheScarlettWarrior - 48

    I agree with most of what you say, but let's not go crazy here, Gyan's goal was a great bit of skill, and he took it really well. However, I would not be shocked to see Rooney, Gerrard or Young do something of similar quality.

  • Comment number 55.

    If England are now starting to integrate the youngsters ie Wilshere etc, then when are we going to see promising playersd like rodwell and smalling involved in the senior set up? i think both would slot into the team very well and Rodwell especially would be the perfect player to play that holding role in midfield.

  • Comment number 56.

    baines,carroll,downing,jarvis,jagielka and baines should never be in the squad. it wasnt a good result it was average at best. you would think this is the new generation coming through but by the next qualifier we will be back to the same old england.

  • Comment number 57.

    Enjoyed last night, considering.

    So, Phil, based on what you have seen over the last two games and let's pretend that everyone is fit and not suspended, what would your starting 11 be for the next England game?

    I would probably go with:-

    Johnson - Dawson - Terry - Cole
    Lampard - Parker - Wilshere
    Young - Carroll - Rooney

    Hart - obvious really
    Johnson - a competent right back, in the absence of anyone else
    Dawson - better than Lescott and sharper than Jagielka
    Terry - still out best central defender
    Cole - Better than Baines but as you say, Baines is now a very safe deputy
    Parker - does more than Barry
    Lampard - better than Milner, more disciplined than Gerrard
    Wilshere - comfortable on the ball, looks to go forward - may need to add scoring to his repertoire though
    Rooney - more dangerous (and not just in a physical sense to the opposition!)
    Carroll - likely to be a better player than Bent, and offers more to the team than just standing up front, waiting for the ball
    Young - provides width and uses the ball better than the likes of Lennon

    Naturally, I'm happy to be persuaded otherwise.

  • Comment number 58.

    *sorry put baines down twice

  • Comment number 59.

    I was at the game yesterday and totally enjoyed the atmosphere. well done to the Ghanaian supporters who made the occassion a memorable one. I hope the FA will try and organise a game with them in the near future.

    I think the weakest link in the Ghanaian team was Lee Addy (number 17) who made Steward Downing looked good and won the MoM award. I was wondering why the Ghanaian coach didn't start with Daniel Opare who came on in the second half. All in all, I think the team made us (the Ghanaians) proud.

    Derrick Boateng came on in the second half and played superbly. ( I remember a supporter who sat in front of me telling me how he played well against Xavi and iniesta in Gatefe v Barcelona). What a player he is?? We are very proud of our boys and God bless them.

    With this Ghanaian squad (with or without M. Essien), The Africa Cup is coming to Ghana and we are going to improve on our position come World Cup 2014.

  • Comment number 60.

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

  • Comment number 61.

    While this was undoubtedly one of England's far better performances of late, I don't think when England are FIFA ranking no 6 and Ghana 16, we could really call a 1-1 draw a "night to remember."

    And while no, had I bought a ticket, I wouldn't have felt cheated watching that game, there was no way anybody - including sports journalists like yourself - could have predicted that shoving a bunch of admittedly talented young players together, who had undoubtedly never played together in that particular lineup, would "gel" as well as it did last night.

    But having admitted to being surprised by the fluidity and quality of much of England's play, I believe England would have been soundly thrashed if Ghana hadn't fluffed so many chances, falling at the final hurdle.

    And while Downing was given the man of the match award, and did play well, he also made some terrible blunders, nearly setting up a goal for Ghana with a clumsy pass to a Ghanaan running at goal, that made him look like he was a double-agent, as well as missing a chance close up that could have made victory secure for England, and I'm not totally convinced the apparently great set up for Carroll was 100% intended.

    Because though I think Downing might still be good enough to play some part in the England team, if Capello now thinks he is going to fill Adam Johnson's boots, he should consider the statistics on not only the overall contribution, but goal scoring ability and potential.

    Stuart Downing: Middlesbrough - 181 games, 17 goals; England U21 - 8 games, 0 goals; England - 24 games, 0 goals, and he missed another good chance to "break his duck" last night

    Adam Johnson: Middlesbrough 96 games, 13 goals (i.e. nearly as many goals in a little over half as many games); England U-21 19 games, 4 goals; England 6 games (several of which were very short or substitute appearances), 2 goals.

    England failed to win last night because, despite all the fluent play and fancy footwork, they were only able to put the ball into the net once, and in front of a Wembley home crowd too.

    That's what football's all about, putting the ball in the net more times than the opposition, so I can't see how scoring only one goal in front of your home crowd to a team 10 places lower in the FIFA rankings is anything to get too excited about.

    But I don't deny that the potential in this much younger team is exciting, but in fact, that really only calls into question that Capello did not search out and utilise at least some of this young talent far sooner (including Adam Johnson) as most of these players were quite old enough to have taken part in the last World Cup.

    In a sense, I think last night, when he starts to think a bit further about it, may well have caused Capello a big headache, because a lot of younger players are suddenly making their claim to be England first teamers, and so just where are the likes of Rooney, John Terry and Steven Gerrard going to fit in again, and for that matter Adam Johnson himself, who has taken no part in the last 2 games? (though apparently fit enough to be brought on as substitute in the last 2 Man City games before the international break).

    Most of these new "young" players who played last night, have mostly been around for the past two years for Capello to assess, but now we're at the key matches in England's qualifying campaign, and it still feels like he's experimenting and shuffling the players around like a pack of cards, and nobody, not even himself I'd guess, knows what "hand" he's going to draw next, or if it's going to be a winning or losing one.

    Capello was appointed to this job in Dec 2007. That means he's had nearly three and a half full years to experiment with the England team and get it right.

    If Capello was a top manager as his salary suggests he ought to be, he ought to know who the best players are by now and have a stable formation as a staring first team lineup.

    That he hasn't done, is because he failed to bring on the young talent quickly enough, especially when picking his squad for the World Cup final stages.

    As to his claim his vocabulary of 100 words is enough, apparently Paul Scholes said that because of Capello's failure to phone and talk to him personally, instead giving the job to Baldini, he refused to be part of the 2010 squad in South Africa, which might have made all the difference, and at least allowed England to have a respectable finish.

    He also claimed as soon as he took over, that he would work very hard at English, but clearly he has not made good on that promise either.

    His standard of English is not acceptable after 3 1/2 years here, and clearly, as in Paul Scholes' case alone, it has seriously affected his ability to communicate with his players and therefore manage properly.

    Football at International or top level is more than just about tactics and picking a team, it requires people skills, good communication skills.

    But as he can't even seem to decide on exactly which players he wants in the team, he's failing in his basic duty as a manager, and when he claims a 1-1 draw at Wembly against inferior opposition (that might easily have been a defeat, had Ghana got their first goal sooner) "fantastic", this also points to a somewhat tenuous link between his perception of success and reality.

    If England want to even reach the semi-final of Euro2012, they should be winning home games like that by at least 2 or 3 goals to 0 or 1, and so despite the undeniable promise in some of the individuals performances, this is still far from good enough.

  • Comment number 62.

    50. At 09:37am on 30th Mar 2011, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Few pointers. Is 4-3-3 now the established way forward for England? It looked fluid again last night and is accepted by many as the preferred route in international football.


    If this is the case then where does Rooney fit in? You certainly will not see the best of him out on either flank. For me he must be the central striker, but this seems something Capello is reluctant to employ.

    @ #10 DJ500 - Defoe - this "Natural Goalscorer" so natural, he has never hit more than 20 Premier League goals in a single season - something achieved by players such as Phillips, Andy Johnson, Darren Bent and Robbie Fowler who were never given the kind of opportunites Defoe has had.

    Hopefully we are moving away from what appeared to be "Safe Bet" players. Ie. In order to not raise an eyebrow let's throw SWP, Jenas, Defoe, Carrick into the squad each time.

    Hopefully the likes of these players mentioned have seen their last England Shirt.

    Jagielka struggled, which I expected. As an Everton fan I am honest enough to concede that Jags is not World Class - he is a good Premiership Centre back but nothing more really.

  • Comment number 63.

    It was a surprisingly great night of football last night. Ghana played their part while Young and Downing provided the unpredictability and the width in attack. With this system and with Walcott and Lennon fit, England can only get better. Carroll needs games under his belt. He wasn't completely fit. He took his goal very well, though.

    Before the match, fans were saying they were cheated but the ticket prices were a double cinema ticket - they never mentioned that. Also, Capello is very very bad but, had England won yesterday, his win/match ratio would have been better than any other England manager has ever achieved.

    If there's something to take, as pundits said last night, is that this match showed England do have some strength in depth.

  • Comment number 64.

    #61 WorldCupWally

    I think perhaps you are putting too much faith in the FIFA rankings.

    Whilst their basis is probably reasonable (an argument many of us probably don't understand) I believe that they are weighted over a longer period of time than just the last 12 months. I would be interested to know where Ghana were over a year ago compared to now as I would suspect that they have made a jump.

    If Ghana got to the last 8 of the world cup (almost the last four) and we were not very good, then despite the numbers 6 and 16 you have hung your hat on, perhaps the teams are closer than we might realise.

  • Comment number 65.

    Yeah it was an ok match last night, but I dont understand this media hype again where they seem to be making it out that it was some kind of thriller.

    What frustrates me with England is that they cant seem to do the basics of pass and move. Its like the players are scared of the ball.

    There was a period in the 1st half where Ghana were passing it around beautifully in little triangles / one touch passes. All England seem to do is pass sideways and stick to a rigid linear formation.

    Just my thoughts..

  • Comment number 66.

    Who had good nights and who had bad nights?

    Good nights for me were Hart, Baines, Cahill, Young, Downing and Wilshere. Bad night for Joleon Lescott again at international level.

    Would disagree about Hart. Some tidy saves but a couple of shocking moments in hi sdecision making especially when Gyan charged down his a clearance when he was trying to be clever rather than clear his lines or distribute the ball elsewhere and he could have done better with the goal simply by going down at Gyan's feet and claiming it or at least getting in his way and spreading himself and making Gyan beat him when close to the ball rather than shooting from a 5-6 feet away

  • Comment number 67.

    Didn't see the game (8 hours ahead where I am), but sounds like what now truly places football apart from so many other sports, with the emergence of teams from the traditionally weaker confederations making it a truly global game followed by millions of fanatics exposing us to many of the rich - sometimes little known about - cultures the planet has to offer, and who can often see a more representative reflection of the world interact more competently and competitively than in other sports, if not other walks of life.

    And wouldn't you know it, as has already been mentioned, there's no pleasing some people! I don't think they can handle happiness! They aren't happy unless there's something to feel aggrieved about. And if there isn't a problem, they'll create one. Your homes must be a bundle of laughs! Get out the anti-depressants. Sounds like marriage, though mine thankfully hasn't reached that point, yet! Even if Carroll did foul the defender, it's infantile to say the final score would have been 0-1. We don't know what would have happened, just like if Frank Lampard's goal had been allowed in SA.

    Surely yesterday was a great advertisement for the legacy that English football started building 140+ years ago. A new post-colonial era where we are all on a level plain, and inequality is not tolerated, in football anyway.

  • Comment number 68.

    I can't believe they removed this from #40 for one word!!

    @11 Kofi Ken

    No, you're not the only one to notice the foul that allowed Carroll to score; I did wonder how the commentator missed it, and it did take the BBC text commentator a while to see it last night too. Ah well, these things happen, even if it was right in front of the ref!

    As for the way England played - am I alone in wondering why we have to have a 'permanent' captain? We get told that there is more than one leader needed on the pitch, which would suggest that any of those that are leaders could be captain (call the toss, hand over a pennant), no? If that is true, then the captain for a match should be the one who is fit and likely to be selected anyway, yes? I can see that at a tournament you want a captain for the duration (even if he may get injured or suspended), but if games are three months apart, why bother anointing the latest overpaid 'Senior' player who thinks 'man-up' is up there with Churchillian speech? Don't make the rod for your back, Mr Capello: one game, one captain.

    Other than that, nice to see the mix of players.....shouldn't every friendly be a team of players 'on the fringe' who can show some zest and enthusiasm, rather than a bunch of 'senior' (What is that supposed to mean, age? In a club situation you have senior players to guide youngsters through. In an international set up there will always be players who know how 'it works' - but that shouldn't be a reason to make it onto the team sheet! 'Youngsters' getting there are, presumably, good enough.) players who don't want to be there other than for the cap and look bored trying to evade injury.....

  • Comment number 69.

    #66 PetShopBoys_Forever

    Would disagree about Hart. Some tidy saves but a couple of shocking moments in hi sdecision making especially when Gyan charged down his a clearance when he was trying to be clever rather than clear his lines or distribute the ball elsewhere and he could have done better with the goal simply by going down at Gyan's feet and claiming it or at least getting in his way and spreading himself and making Gyan beat him when close to the ball rather than shooting from a 5-6 feet away
    You're right about the dodgy 'clearance' but it didn't prove to be costly and hopefully it is an error that he can learn from.

    As for their goal, I think Hart might reasonably expect his defenders to have done rather better in blocking off Gyan in the first place!

  • Comment number 70.

    Some people will never be happy. I am wondering if they won the lottery, would they moan about the lighting and decor colours when they're announced as new millionaires? :)

    It was an excellent game of football. In friendly matches, the score is irrelevant - players are given playing time. Someone gave negative statistics on Downing, but Downing had an excellent game. You can never make sense with some comments here.

  • Comment number 71.

    Tru but if he had come out he could have forced the shot earlier and then the defenders can cover any ricochets. Seaman and Schmeichel would have come off their line in those circumstances and 7 out of 10 times prevented a goal by doing so

  • Comment number 72.

    Maybe i'm stupid... but from what i saw Milner was great last night with some delightful (but quiet, so not headline grabbing) passing and through-balls, and a million times better than Downing, who although did ok, missed a gilt edged chance because he had to hit it with the wrong foot.

    Which may be partly because Capello decided to follow that tactical genius - Houllier - and play both a left footer on the right and a right footer on the left. Wonderful, because they both missed chances that had they been the other way around would have been goals.

    I'm sure Capello will feel justified. After all, the younger players played with hunger. Which is what you'd expect. Shame that he hasn't done that all season, which would have been expected after suggestions that he would start building around the youth and drop the goldplated toilet generation.

    Hey ho, maybe this will affect his selection for the next game. I won't hold my breath

  • Comment number 73.

    Well done Englkand and well done Gareth Barry for captaining a vibrant England side in a real entertaining match.

    Wales were absolute tripe in the previous match and this wa s a real test for England. Altrincham or Tamworth would probably have beaten Wales.

    Some real plus points, propoer tackling, aproper match, a good crowd and an up for it Engkland team well lead by Gareth Barry.

    No one missed the old brigade Terry, lampard, Rooney et al.

  • Comment number 74.

    Good blog from Phil proving that he can deliver when the restraints of EPL 'political correctness' aren't on him.

    I really can't see why the moaning from some posts? I have argued for years that England managers should stop wasting friendlies and use them for what they are meant for: - testing ALL of the squad against the best the World has to offer.

    The sad truth is, like so much of football these days, it's all about money not the quality of the game being played, and international football is equally blighted. International managers are constrained by club managers unwilling to allow their massively paid assets to be risked, and as such a friendly is often seen as a a 'nuisance'.

    Ironic then isn't it, that last night we witnessed one of the best games in recent memory, and gosh, it was a friendly! I say ironic, as many England fans have joined in the general dismissive attitude towards them.

    Yet, some of the best games I have witnessed at Wembley or elsewhere, have been Friendlies. England V Holland in 77', V Hungary in 78' v Austria in 1979 (an epic match ending in a 3-4 defeat) v Argentina in 1980 V Brazil 1981 v France 1984 v Brazil 1984 v West Germany 1985 v Uruguay 1990 v Portugal 1998 among others.

    Now Ghana 2011 joins the list.

    England did indeed play better in the first half, and the defensive changes didn't help them in the second half, but they were still committed to the cause for 90 minutes, Ghana gave 100%, and got what they deserved, so why complain?

    I would rather watch games like that, which entertain for 90 minutes, than the dross that too often gets served up in tournament qualifying group matches any day.

    But there you go.

  • Comment number 75.

    #71 PetShopBoys_Forever

    Really? The attacker get's the ball over 18 yards out, there are about 5 or 6 defenders between the attacker and the ball and you still think that the keeper should come out?

    I just don't agree. With that much cover, I would say that the keeper's place is to stay on his line.

    I'm not goal keeper so perhaps any goalkeepers who have had some coaching might like to comment but I'd be surprised to hear that the keeper should come in that situation.

  • Comment number 76.

    I see some clown above is now criticising Joe Hart who pulled off a couple of gret saves.

    What do these n umpties get off on?

  • Comment number 77.

    Cracking game of football that last night, being a Bolton I obviously kept a close eye on Gary Cahill, and what can I say, absolutely immense, out-shone Jagielka (who I happen to rate very highly) and looked a different class to Lescott.

    In fact I dont think he put a foot wrong the entire game, which cannot be said for Lescott or Jags, he wasn't scared of commanding the more "senior" players about, read the game very well, looked calm and composed on the ball, made some key tackles and interceptions, overall our best defender on the night.

    After that performance he cleary has to be next in line over them two from now on.

  • Comment number 78.

    We were alright last night, but against a France or a Germany or any other top side we would have been beaten soundly I feel. Our movement still isn't great and a lot of our players are still not comfortable taking the ball under pressure, besides Jack Whilshere. Please God let us not ruin him and stick him out on the left as happened with Scholes. As soon as Whilshere gets the ball he is looking to pass forward, run forward with it and pick out a pass. Everyone else panics and hits it out wide. Even some of the lesser teams have realised that if you press England well, our game completely capitulates.

    Also, our defence always do this little routine where they pass it around the back four for ages as if they are thinking 'yea, this is how to play passing football', and then either lose it or hit it long. What is the point? The amount of space between the back four and the midfield is scary. It's as if England take the formation quite literally and just remain static all over the park.

    We are never going to beat top sides playing like this. They figure us out within 5 minutes of playing. However, I have come to terms with us being a mediocre national side, and a last 16 place in a World Cup is about our level I think. I think the media seriously need to start lowering their expectations in regards to our national side.

  • Comment number 79.

    Before the match, well I've flamegrilled Terry and A Cole enough times so I wasn't going to cry about them not being in the side. Likewise those that have given Wayne similar treatment weren't going to complain either.

    What we got was what looked to be the ultimate in rough and ready England teams but they turned out to do very damn good! Congrats to Carroll for his first England goal! Conceding an injury time equaliser to Ghana was annoying and frustrating but you had to give them credit for their part in the contest.

    Definately better than Saturday's game vs Wales! A win would still have been nice though!

  • Comment number 80.

    I think after watching the dross we saw at the World Cup with all our 'big names' playing, then YES, last night's draw does make many fans happy. Especially considering just how many supposed first team players were missing. Infact, take our opening game against USA, just how many of last nights team started against the USA, arguably our hardest game? Just Milner I believe and wasn't he taken off early?

    We saw a team of mostly fringe players play together as a team for the first time, against an established Ghana side that showed us just how far African football has moved forward in the last few years, and they showed us some good flowing, attacking football with plenty of width. Ok, so we didn't stop Ghana from scoring but Ghana are a good attacking side. Imagine if our B team had played together for the past few games...

    I think most of us would have settled for a draw with our A team so last nights match certainly was refreshing!

  • Comment number 81.

    As a Spurs fan, I enjoyed the game, particularly as I was seeing young and hungary players trying to make an impact rather than old 'names' go through the motions with their minds elsewhere.

    Said after the world cup that a lot of those names should be jettisoned. I just hope (although sincerley doubt he would) that Capello sticks to the majority of these players and doesn't just recall the big name players into the team.

    For me, there is no need to play Ferdinand again - while his quality is obvious the fact is he's extremely injury prone and like every criticism that has been made of Ledley King, how can you build a defence around someone who won't be there the majority of time??

    Likewise, Lampard - would he really improve the team? Does he do the holding midfield role - no. Does he offer more than Wilshire - no. And does he have the pace and fluid movement to fit in with the other players - very unsure.

    And Gerrard too - I'm sorry but Gerrard for me lacks positional disciplne, particularly for England. But even on form this season I don't think you could make a case for Gerrard being included - he's been far from convincing and has really struggled with injury - indeed the last time I saw him against West Ham he looked overweight.

    And then there's Rooney. Where would he fit in? For me I don't see him as the central striker in the 3 - he likes to drop off and move around too much, so I can't see him playing there, which leaves the wide positions. Now is Rooney a better option than Downing, Young, Lennon, Jarvis, Welbeck, Walcott, Johnson? Individually he maybe a better player, but I'm not so sure he would be in the overall TEAM SYSTEM.

  • Comment number 82.

    To beshocked...Capello was not saying the result was "fantastic" he said the game was. And it was a really memorable night.

    Mr MrBlueBurns...always difficult to commit on the best team but some very interesting points to ponder.

    I think we can safely say Hart will be in goal while Johnson and Cole will be the full-backs - although it will be worth keeping an eye on right-back Martin Kelly when he is fit at Liverpool.

    Terry will clearly command one of the central defensive positions and, if we are to assume Ferdinand is absent, I think Michael Dawson has just edged ahead of Phil Jagielka as his partner - although I would have chosen the Everton man at Cardiff. They are so close as to almost make no difference.

    Also we have to look at the formation. If Capello sticks with 4-3-3 then I would have Parker ahead of Barry as the holding player, Wilshere is starting to look a fixture and that would arguably leave one place for either Lampard or Gerrard. Who would I pick? In a straight fight I would go for Gerrard ahead of Lampard, but again I accept there are plenty who would go the other way.

    Ashley Young has done his cause no harm, while Darren Bent appears to be at the front of the queue as the striker after the Wales game. Wayne Rooney continues to frustrate many. I wouldn't drop him but he should never be guaranteed a place forever. He is suspended for the Switzerland game, however, so a fit-again Adam Johnson should come into the equation, and England also have Walcott, Downing and Milner who can work the wide positions.

    Just a few random thoughts those rather than definitive answers, so let's throw Mr Blue Burns' question out to you.

    Let's imagine every England player is fit and Rooney is free from suspension.

    Give me a) your first-choice team and b) your formation. Feel free to give full reasoning.

  • Comment number 83.

    Capello has belatedly seen the error of his ways and has ditched the 4-4-2 in favour of a more fluid system. Fair enough. So how would the "star players" fit into the side?

    Of the players released for Champions League games only Rooney would be an automatic pick. But I wouldn't play him up front. The 16 year old Rooney would have been a shoe in but as he matures he's looking more like the natural succesor to Paul Scholes both at club and country level, sitting in the hole behind a fluid front 3 dictating play.

    Of the others, they surely have a role to play but at this stage they should primarily helping to bed down the next generation of players. They've largely failed themselves and in 2011 we should be rebuilding and looking forward.

    We also need a break in the season in 2011/2012. Not only are the Euro's coming up but there are a fair few youngsters who will also want to play at the olympics

  • Comment number 84.

    Well well I hope all those carping about being short changed by Capello are eating their words today and hanging their heads in shame!I include the BBd here who banged on and on about in programme after programme from Saturday onwards stirring a small issue up and making it a big story for their own ends.So what did we get?Well this was the most entertaining freindly (sic) in years,partly because the press had stirred the Ghanaians up and partly because team selection and tactics brought a bit of vibrancy to England.Their passing and movement in the first half was fabulous and Ghana struggled to cope.This was not Englands finest hour by a long chalk but it showed what can be done and gave all those watching a night to remember.After all its football not life and death to miss quote the late Bill Shankly!Ask the Ghana fans if they felt short changed by Englands tean selection or anyone else who watched the game.

  • Comment number 85.

    Seen a few comments along the lines of "It's only Ghana". Go watch some more football because you clearly no nothing about it.

  • Comment number 86.

    61: Downing and Johnson are very different players. Downings final ball is much better whereas give the ball to Johnson's feet and you won't see many players better at running at and committing his man.

    The stats you bring out around Middlesbrough are also misleading seeing as the majority of Johnsons goals came in the Championship.

  • Comment number 87.

    It really didn't matter that it was a "2nd string" England team last night- at least the effort was there. If you compare that performance to any in the World Cup or against Montenegro, it was much better. At last there was some commitment from the England players that has been missing for absolutely ages. I think that if we play some of these players in the qualifiers over Lampard, Terry, Rooney etc. we might get the full effort and commitment from those players to fight for their place in the England squad.

  • Comment number 88.


    4-3-3 attack minded with a very solid defense could provide some exciting attacking play. Rodwell over parker/Barry as i feel both of those players have a limited future and rodwell shows alot of promise.

  • Comment number 89.

    #88 HandsomeScott

    Decent team there. I hope Richards comes back to the level he was when he first come onto the scene as he has the potential.

    I don't think Gerrard has the discipline to play in that team/formation. I would suggest that for most of his career he has been indulged and I think he would take it upon himself to run all over the place and leave big holes. This would also get in the way of Wilshere who is blooming.

    Apart from suggesting Lampard who has more discipline, are there any other right sided players?

    Also, I would stick with Parker over Rodwell for now. Parker won't be around for ever but he has played consistently well for sometime and I don't think Rodwell has even played for the full England team yet has he?

    I sort of agree with your front three, though I might tweak it with Johnson instead of Lennon.

    Of all the players under threat though, those aged 30+ will go naturally. Rooney though, at mid twenties, could find himself out of the starting 11 in favour of 'team' players.

  • Comment number 90.

    Just something on the video of Gyan's interview. What sort of an idiotic and arrogant question is it to ask Gyan if scoring a goal in a friendly makes up for what happened in the WC? Give me a break! Ghana made it just as far as England in the competition and if it was not for Blatant cheating would have gone further than them. It may be England at Wembley but seriously a little perspective please!

  • Comment number 91.

    I'd say 4-2-3-1

    With Hart Johnson Dawson Terry Cole
    Wilshere Parker
    Rooney Gerrard Young
    Bent just a head of Carrol in the starting line up because hes more of a poacher.
    Gerrard is better than Lampard internationally IMO and would be nice to see him behind a striker, Rooney out left so he can cut in or create chances which he is getting better at, and Wilshere and Scotty playing in front of the back 4 allowing Wilshere to go forward in a similar fashion to his Arsenal position, with Scotty the more holding player.

    I reckon that gives us a great bench to with Adam Johnson able to take either side of Gerrard, Wilshere for added pace, Carrol if we need a battering ram, Lampard if we need even more Ommph or Gerard is injured.

    Just a suggestion but its what most of the top clubs play so a lot of the players are used to it.

  • Comment number 92.

    Wallcot for added pace* not Wilshere

  • Comment number 93.

    Phil, no one thought England were "cheating" fans. In fact, you pretty much made the whole thing up and are for some reason continually trying to push it. Everyone knew that we would play a weakened team.

  • Comment number 94.

    # 88. At 11:08am on 30th Mar 2011, HandsomeScott wrote:


    4-3-3 attack minded with a very solid defense could provide some exciting attacking play. Rodwell over parker/Barry as i feel both of those players have a limited future and rodwell shows alot of promise.
    # 89. At 11:15am on 30th Mar 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    #88 HandsomeScott

    Decent team there. I hope Richards comes back to the level he was when he first come onto the scene as he has the potential

    According to a number of customers of mine that follow Man City,Richards has improved immeasurably as a defender.His obvious prowess going forward is still there,but he is much more solid at the back.

  • Comment number 95.

    So we are going to complete disregard the fact that Carroll dumped his marker on the floor to create his space? I haven't read through all the 80+ comments but I for one am annoyed that not a single ITV pundit nor sports journalist has mentioned the blatant cheating required for England to score. It was a good performance by England but that incident soured the game for me.

    As for best team/formation I am a big fan of the 5-3-2 as i think it gives the most flexibility but it does require good interplay and an understanding of your teammates which have never been strong points of our national team. I agree that 4-3-3 is probably the way to go as most clubs play this formation making the players used to their positions. (The difference between 4-3-3 and 4-5-1 is minor) Rooney could also be considered as the attacking midfielder, it would take the pressure of him in terms of scoring and he is very good at linking the midfield and attack.

    Johnson - Jagielka - Cahill - Cole
    Hargreaves (optimistic I know) - Gerrard - Rooney
    Johnson - Bent - Lennon(?)

    Not sure about the second winger. Downing, Theo, Lennon, Young and Milner all have their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Comment number 96.

    johnson, dawson,terry,cole
    milner, lampard,gerrard,parker, young
    and carroll as far away from the squad as possible

  • Comment number 97.

    Argh forgot about Richards. Richards over Johnson at RB.

  • Comment number 98.

    To be honest I think the majority of England fans around me were perfectly happy to see Ghana equalise. They deserved it, for their play and supporters.

    A few chants of "I'm England till I die" on the way back to Wembley park station.

    Funny, because I was thinking of turning Ghanaian!

  • Comment number 99.

    A decent game of football last night with both teams actually showing desire to win, with soe nice moves and tasty tackles flying about.
    A draw is the fairest result, England didn’t do anywhere near enough to dominate the 90minutes – which is fair taking into consideration that it was a younger team and is still learning – and credit to Ghana, who are a decent side playing creative and physical football, improving every year and kept playing until the end to score their deserved equaliser. The overall England team looked good and it’s about time the youth are given a chance, the golden (shower) generation bore me need a wakeup call!

    Few comments:

    # 11 – Yes there was a push, but it wasn’t given. Name one game (friendly/competitive) where the ref hasn’t made a mistake or missed something! I agree that it is/was glossed over by the media, but that’s hardly surprising IMO! And to say the game would then be 0-1 is a bit daft, England would have likely kept up a higher tempo and pressed in the 2nd half to try to take the lead.

    GK Discussion:
    # 71 & 75
    As a regular goalkeeper (playing – over 10 years) FA Trained Coach (admittedly currently Level 1), and worked with all levels of youths and adults in football coaching, I feel that Joe Hart did no wrong in the game, the only exception when he tried to be too clever in the first half and passed the ball back to Ghana, but the defence rallied and helped (their job)

    With regards to the goal, Hart could do very little, there is no way that keeper will rush towards a player with the ball who is outside the 18 yard box and has his defenders in the way. Hart, quite rightly so, trusted his defence to deal with Gyan and they didn’t do their job properly – Why Lescott felt the need to jump left and right leaves me confused as all he had to do was stand up and hold his position and Gyan couldn’t go anywhere except backwards.

    Hart has every right to criticise his defence as they did not do their job. Still, every player (and ref) will make mistakes (no-one has yet to criticise Young for missing a complete sitter which 99/100 a player scores) and we all need to tolerate this.

    In answer to Phil:

    Gk – Hart
    Def – G Johnsen – J Terry – G Cahill – A Cole
    Def Mid – S Parker
    Mid – S Gerrard – J Wilshire – A Johnson
    Mid/Att – W Rooney
    Att – A Carroll

    So a 4-1-4-1 defensive and a more 4-1-3-1-1 offensively with potential of Gerrard and Johnson providing width. Gerrard could easily be replaced by A Young / T Walcott but I am admittedly a little biased ;)

    M Kelly
    T Walcott
    A Young
    D Bent
    J Defoe

  • Comment number 100.

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


Page 1 of 3

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.