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England take backward steps against Wales

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Phil McNulty | 07:33 UK time, Wednesday, 7 September 2011


England took one step forward towards Euro 2012 by beating Wales at Wembley but two steps backwards from the promise and hope hinted at in the impressive win in Bulgaria.

If Robert Earnshaw had applied a striker's finish rather than a fly-half's when lifting the ball over the bar from only five yards late on, then England's trip to Montenegro for their final qualifier may have taken on an even more hazardous appearance.

Instead, Earnshaw's hopeless late miss allowed Ashley Young's first-half goal to give England a generous reward for a stodgy, shapeless performance and leaves them needing a point in Podgorica to reach Poland and Ukraine.

The width, movement and threat that accounted for Bulgaria so easily in Sofia was replaced by the usual bout of Wembley nerves and uncertainty.

This was a grim spectacle that left Capello grateful to get out with the points and plan for Montenegro.

Rooney missed the support he had enjoyed against Bulgaria Photo: Getty Images

Wayne Rooney will be central to all England's ambitions if they reach Euro 2012 and Capello must learn the lessons of the last two games and take them away with him next summer.

In Sofia he was helped by the pace, running and support of Young, Theo Walcott and Stewart Downing with Gareth Barry and Scott Parker the shield. At Wembley he was left isolated and old problems resurfaced. He became frustrated with team-mates, chased balls into uncharted, unthreatening territory and even ended up near his own corner flag at one point.

England barely created a chance worthy of the name, Young's goal apart, and Capello's claim that his players lacked confidence in front of the Wembley crowd betrayed a worrying shortage of mental strength.

Frank Lampard's England obituaries required ripping up instantly as he was recalled after being dropped against Bulgaria, but he did not present a compelling case for further inclusion in the starting line-up here.

The glee expressed at his apparent demise in some quarters continues to mystify and is insulting to a fine professional, but at 33 the reality is that he is nearing the end of his international career.

He was not alone in his anonymity at Wembley, but the fact Capello effectively chose to use him as a human shield against a possible suspension for Parker underlined his place in the pecking order.

James Milner was neither here nor there. He is regarded as valuable for his versatility but it must also be backed up with performances. Downing does a similar job but has done it better this season.

And as Capello rightly pointed out, England's habit of playing in 20-minute spells might see them through against a game but limited Wales, but will attract heavy punishment against better sides and more ruthless strikers than Earnshaw.

So with Euro 2012 qualification close to being assured, where do England currently stand?

It would be wildly optimistic, fantasy even, to suggest at this stage that England will pose a huge threat to the major powers such as Spain, Holland and Germany. They have been there before - and come back disappointed.

But, despite the slipshod nature of Tuesday's display, there are also positive signs that can be unearthed from a patchy qualifying campaign.

Manchester United new boy Young is developing as a figure of genuine international stature. He is in the perfect place for club and country, as his recent performances have proved.

And, injuries permitting, Capello will also have Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard at his disposal should England confirm their qualification. Youth, experience and high class in midfield, heavyweight additions to England's options.

Manchester United teenager Phil Jones did not figure in either of the qualifiers but if he progresses at his current rate then he will be a serious contender for a central defensive berth next summer.

Liverpool's Andy Carroll made a "blink and you'll miss it" appearance in the closing seconds and he returns to Anfield with words of warning to consider from Capello about his lifestyle.

If Kenny Dalglish can press the right buttons, and he is the master of man management, then England will have a fearsome weapon to take to Eastern Europe with them.

As for Capello himself, he was as uninspiring as his team on Tuesday, but he has shown tactical flexibility and a willingness to introduce fresh faces in qualifying that gives cause for cautious optimism.

England remain a work in progress - and the serious work will need to begin if they can avoid defeat in Podgorica.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Wales looked very good, we looked pap.

    Still its three points, and I would rather look pap now rather than later as we normally do (if we qualify)

    Anyway, I am guessing its "Capello out, Sack the players, we should crush teams like that" in the papers now, rather than what we saw on Saturday

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh, we still cant take throw ins either :p

  • Comment number 3.

    A win is a win but it was a very pedestrian performance and one that doesn't instill confidence that we'll be a contender next summer. Fair play to Wales, they did more than enough for at least a point but *we* need to take a step back and address the issues we have. There was a severe lack of creativity last night against average opposition which isn't good enough however if this was a top Premier League team that ground out a 1-0 win, most pundits would be saying 'it's a good sign to win when not playing well' so maybe not all is as bad as it seems?

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    Wales were more determined opposition than Bulgaria - the latter just rolled over once the first was in.

    Capello needs to really knuckle down now and pick a core of first teamers so they can get on with it. Lampard and Milner are second team definately. Barrry has his work to do. Using Lampard last night gave the wrong messages - should have had Cleverly on.

  • Comment number 7.

    I totally disagree with you Phil. I thought Wales packed the midfield to stop England playing without the intention of creating much themselves (a little negative in my opinion). They relied heavily on 1 player and created only 1 real chance. They cannot win games playing this way and that was proved yesterday.

    On the other hand, England did not need to stretch themselves too far, and were comfortable for most of the game (Hart hardly had to do anything all game!!).

    People should not try to compare England to Spain or Brazil. They should be more like Germany (or even Italy), doing just enough to win a tricky game. If this was Spain beating Wales, then we would have said "They did not play well but won the game, a mark of a champion".

  • Comment number 8.

    We won = i'm happy. We had some fantastic performances on the run up to the world cup and look what happened. Lets save the "performances" for the main events against the "Big" teams.

  • Comment number 9.

    You might not have known it from reading the above but another Home Nation was playing against England last night and acquitted themselves very well all things considered. Typically unbiased BBC...

    The best performances on the night were from the players in red and with a bit more confidence / luck would have got something from the game, and deservedly so.

    You will not hear anyone from the England camp admit it but that England (non) performance was simply down to complacency. Last time England played Wales they barely had to turn up to win and arrogantly assumed they just had to do the same again, so played like it was game over when they were just 1-0 up.

    I dont think you can read too much into this England performance because mentally they weren't there, and the points were all that mattered, but there is understandable concern that they didnt play with any urgency or accuracy.

    England got away with it this time, but another repeat against pretty much any opposition and they'll be exiting the tournament with their tail between their legs.

    For Wales, the signs are encouraging. Is Gary Speed our next Mark Hughes? I hope so. Yet another false dawn? Quite probably, but like all football fans we can only dream...

  • Comment number 10.

    More worrying than our lack of prowess at throw ins: we still can't keep the ball properly, even against a side who's last appearance in a major tournament was in 1958. Considering that this side numbers some of football's best paid players, supposedly playing in the world's best league.. I'd expect them to at least look comfortable in posession, even if they are uninspiring up front.

    It really isn't Capello's fault. He might be bonkers and slightly senile, but he's doing about as well as any England manager has done in recent years.

    I think our best bet is to pick as much of the Man U side as humanly possible, always play in red and hypnotise the team into thinking they're playing at Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 11.

    Insightful as ever Phil. Would a sentence on the performance from Wales' perspective really be that difficult?

  • Comment number 12.

    You're all looking too much into this. It was like a top 4 side up against a determined Wolves or Wigan. A scrappy and hard fought 1-0 win.

  • Comment number 13.

    Not enough to win these days. You have to win in style. I'll take the three points. Wales were fit and well organized and passed the ball well at times - but when they were handed with a goal scoring opportunity on a plate - the only one they managed to get and not as a result of their good play but poor defending by England - Earnshaw missed it. On the other hand the England goal was well worked, creative and brilliantly finished - there's the difference.

    Lampard is past it and Walcott was missed last night. Milner does a job. Bring in Gary Speed as passing coach.

  • Comment number 14.

    "They did not play well but won the game, a mark of a champion".

    But Spain, and others that that is said about, usually have some pedigree, England have none in recent times.

    When the Welsh fans were singing "4th in the rankings, you're having a laugh" we should have sung back

    "117th in the rankings, FIFA's having a laugh"

    As I said in my first post, a wins a win, but playing like that, be it because of the players or the Welsh team will mean a performance on par with Kevin Keegans Euro 2000.

    But maybe thats what we deserve, to show that quick fixes are not the solution.

    Hows that route and branch investigation going on by the way Mr F.A ?

  • Comment number 15.

    Not even a word on what was, by Welsh standards, a great performance? Same on 5Live last night, barely a mention of the opponents in the post-match analysis. Lawrenson was a joke as well, no intention of backing up his statement of England deserving the win during the phone in.

  • Comment number 16.

    4. At 08:40 7th Sep 2011, Reccy - I fit into a bra comfortably wrote:
    England 4th in the world at home to Wales 117th.

    I know! What a joke! Ahead of Portugal, Brazil and Argentina? Questionable. But ahead of Andorra? Definitely not!

  • Comment number 17.

    Fantastic on Friday! Terrible on Tuesday! Why does out media see no 'happy medium' 2 wins out of two folks, no goals conceded and optimism about the performances of Smalling, Cahill, Young etc... I say a pretty good five days for the team! Job well done boys!

  • Comment number 18.

    Is anyone really surprised. First half against bulgaria we looked good, terrible once Milner and Lampard were on. Same again last night. Milner is just not good enough, poor first touch, poor decision making and far, far too negative. As for Lampard, another failure in an England shirt how much longer will Capello put up with this. I feel for rooney, how many times last night did he chase the goalie down waving for someone to pick the other players up and then turn round to see no one behind him running. It is about time we dropped Lampard, Gerrard, Barry, Milner

  • Comment number 19.

    Food for thought. There are a number of players who sit on Spain's bench that would be star players if they were in the England team.

  • Comment number 20.

    Stodgy. Shapeless. And that was just Frank Lampard!

  • Comment number 21.

    19 lorus59

    That could be said for Portugal, Italy, Germany, Russia etc...

  • Comment number 22.

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

  • Comment number 23.

    We've qualified. So we have all this to look forward to next summer:

    1. a bunch of fans wasting cash on tickets to eastern europe;
    2. the usual press about their behaviour;
    3. the 9 month build up and pointless speculation about who's in and who's out;
    4. endless lists on fans forums of England's starting XI for each game;
    5. raised expectations;
    6. pundits drolling on all day about absolutley nothing of any interest;
    7. weirdos hanging England flags from cars, upstairs windows and bicicle handle bars:
    8. a late Wayne Rooney bad haircut or injury scare;
    9. pretty awful football matches;
    10. the inevitable disappointment of a quarter final defeat (if we are lucky); and
    11. the public vilification of all involved.

    That's my starting XI. I can't wait.......

  • Comment number 24.

    @19 that is not food for thought just an obvious comment that Spain have a far better squad than us.

    The only way we can stop the same old dire being put in front of us is get rid of the dead weights that have failed year after year in an England shirt.

    Lampard and Barry have to be the first to go, so so so slow, so negative, so pedestrian. Why wasn't Cleverley given a go since we're nearly certain of qualification??

    Milner is a squad player and definitely not a starter, you can't have wingers who can;t take people on (Unless they have the class of Beckham). I also include Terry, Gerrard and Rio in the dead weight category.

  • Comment number 25.

    I agree with speedygun,not an epic performance by England but three points never the less,as for the criticism of James Milner,well I must have seen a different match,as he was one of the best England players last night.Regretfully Frank Lampart never seems to perform as well for country as he does for club and,yes perhaps his time is over.I cannot say that I was impressed by Smalling either,seemed way out of depth to me.Barry was a man of two halves,rubbish in the first but much improved in the second.

  • Comment number 26.

    Full credit to Wales for their second half performance. I think with the likes of Bale, Ramsey and Hennessy, Wales will enjoy some really good performances over the coming years and will hopefully reach a major tournament.

    As for England, I have come to expect this kind of performance. On Saturday when we beat Bulgaria, we did not become world beaters, just like last night we did not suddenly become a poor team. I completely agree with Cheese And Biscuits about the premier league team comment. Yes we are not consistent like the very top international teams but on our day we can give anyone a good game. The problem is a lot of international teams are the same... they have some good quality, are well organised and are prepared to have a go. So we are always likely to have close and competitive games when we are not at the top of our game.

    And finally, I will never write England off as potentials for winning next years Euros... I don't know many people who predicted Greece to win in 2004 so everyone has a chance.

  • Comment number 27.

    Once again Lampard gets a starting place, why? He is 33, past it for England and has not exactly been pulling up trees at Chelsea. I cannot understand Capello's thinking behind playing him again, and in a more defensive role!!!!!! The only place Lampard is capable of playing is just off of the front 2, and the only thing he brings to the team is the occasional goal. He has no pace, can't tackle and his passing is not up to standard, people say that he is one of the fittest players around, but i'm sorry, without even a bit of pace then he justs drifts around all game chasing and never quite getting to the ball.

  • Comment number 28.

    Lampard is past it no for England, its time for the likes of Cleverley and Wilshire to come though now, we need some players with skill and flair, look at the Germans, Spanish and Netherlands they have these players and can play football like it should be played, we cant keep playing with 1 up front though, you either play another striker with Rooney or 2 attacking midfielders like Young and Walcott, Downing is not an attacking midfielder! If all fit my starting 11 would be


    Terry is to slow now IMO, Parker and Wilshire will give some bite to the midfield, with 2 quick wingers, 1 who has got a good cross (downing) and 1 with an eye for goal (Young) with Carroll playing at the very top and then Rooney just behind we can get a good shape. Carroll does need to get some more games/goals in though first.

    Quarter finals are a must and semi-finals i would be happy with :)

  • Comment number 29.

    id like to say three more things:

    1st : Even bigger YAAAAAAWWWWN than yesterday

    2nd : Good Riddens Cappello

    3rd : ABE

    Case Closed.

  • Comment number 30.

    England have completely regressed under Capello. Even the promising display against Bulgaria was quickly dispelled. He cannot use confidence as an excuse. All week, all he spoke about was containing the threat of Bale, i.e. how do we react defensively, and it appears he gave little concern to how do we take the game to Wales. To be fair, Wales were far more hungrier than Bulgaria and although they are clearly a work in progress, there was plenty for them to be cheerful about. The sooner Capello goes and we get a manager in who will play players in their club position which is based on the club form and we play with an English attitude then, and only then will we start to improve. KTBFFH

  • Comment number 31.

    23. At 09:01 7th Sep 2011, ianbluenose wrote:


    very nicely summed up !

  • Comment number 32.

    Montenegro have managed to amass plenty of points with a weaker side, the real test for Wales is when they face teams like Bulgaria and Switzerland which they should beat.
    All in all I expect both sides are happy enough, points for England, performance for Wales. I sadly suspect it will be the same old story for a few years at least though, England flatter to decieve and Wales underperform

  • Comment number 33.

    A wins a win, it was always going to be a dull game against Wales because for them they had much more to prove and nothing to lose, cliches, cliches.

    That miss from Earnshaw though...maybe shows why he never quite fulfilled what he could have been / threatened to be. Though am sure the ball took a bit of a bobble just before his foot struck it.

  • Comment number 34.

    Well done, England.

  • Comment number 35.

    Just checking, are we rubbish again?

    It's so hard to keep tracks of these things :P I need a slide rule or something!

  • Comment number 36.

    For Spain to be commended for such a performance, they will have earned it; after all, they are both the reigning European and World champions. England, on the o ther hand, are nothing but a bunch of overpaid, overrated wannabees, a team with a few parts (although Ashley Cole, who almost always performs well at the highest level, is the only name that springs instantly to mind) that are greater than it's whole. As usual, they will flounder against stronger opponents.

  • Comment number 37.

    It was Wales bought 49% and England bought 51% to the game. Thats how close the game was, especially in the 2nd half.

  • Comment number 38.

    I've found whenever England play Milner and Lampard, the midfield looks pedantic. What lacks is creativity. We have the players, just don't have the guts to play them. Germany did it, why can't we? I just hope Gerrard doesn't walk back into the team either. There is a future and it is bright, just without those who were the so-called golden generation (that was a myth).

  • Comment number 39.

    Man of the Match at Wembley? Aaron Ramsey.

    That is all

  • Comment number 40.

    @HAHA CharadeYouAre

    Not for the first time, you seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that (a) it is compulsory for you to watch England matches and (b) it is compulsory for you to pass comment on them.

    If you have such a terrible time watching them - as you clearly do - then my (I would've thought rather obvious) advice is simply not to bother watching them, especially since you don't seem exactly to have Englan's interests at heart.

    This course of action would have the corollary benefit of meaning that you don't then feel impelled to come on these blogs and litter them with your nonsensical musings.

    Just a thought.

  • Comment number 41.

    Have you ever seen a slower midfield than Barry, Lampard and Milner? They had the speed of that Samoan shotputter in the 100m. The much maligned Walcott, who was sitting on the bench, suddenly looks world class but he does have that explosive speed which was sadly lacking last night.

  • Comment number 42.

    It still defies logic how a large majority of the England fans can see the problems with the team but no national coaches/managers ever can!

    How many times are players going to be picked on reputation or their name rather than form and genuine talent or potential. Why do we need to see the likes of Lampard, Terry, Ferdinand, Gerrard being given a divine right to play for England? I understand these players were very good in their prime, but they are clearly all past it. Build the team from youth. It wouldn't matter if England were bad in the short term (that wouldn't exactly be a change would it?), the young players would develop as a team together and when the big tournaments come around they would at least be used to playing together on a reasonably regular basis especially if you try to include players from the same clubs. Spain with Barcelona/Madrid rings a bell. Potentially England with Man United and Man City players? I'm sure you could come up with a better England team using players from those squads than the one that has been playing badly for the last 10 years.

    I think it will be a fantastic day when Capello goes. Probably the worst manager in history if you look at the money he's being paid compared to what he has achieved.

  • Comment number 43.

    Morning everyone. Thanks for all your comments.

    Firstly, agree this was a vastly improved Wales performance that demonstrated real signs of progress since the tame showing in Cardiff.

    Aaron Ramsey was excellent and I defy anyone to say they would not have deserved the point Robert Earnshaw should have given them.

    The major issue at hand, however, is England being on the brink of Euro 2012 and how people will they will fare if they get there.

    Disappointed in England last night. Agree Wales were set up more defensively, and indeed were better organised, than Bulgaria, but where was the movement and support for Rooney that was such a feature in Sofia?

    Frank Lampard almost seems an England obssession and once again he takes up plenty of comments. He was anonymous last night but no better or worse than many others. Interesting that Parker was protected from a booking by Lampard being included - not a great sign for his prospects of starting in Montenegro.

    And as the season progresses Wilshere and Gerrard will return so his chances may be even more restricted.

    To be brutally honest, I do not know many England fans (if any) or pundit who seriously believes they will win Euro 2012. My heart says I would love England to win - my head says no.

    What do you think? Is that too gloomy a prediction?

    There have been some signs of promise as mentioned in the blog - so what can Capello build on between now and next summer?

    And what about Capello's claim that England lose confidence at Wembley? I find that mystifying. Why should that be? What do you think?

    And if you were at Wembley last night was the atmosphere enough to make the players lose confidence? I thought it was very supportive.

    As ever, this is your platform so feel free to use it.

  • Comment number 44.

    Yet more dribble Philip on the most overrated side in world football. The management and core of the side responsible for last years humiliation are still in place. The FA could not afford to sack Capello and instead had to hire another couple of language teachers. In reality England are not even a top 10 side in world football, it just shows how farcical the ranking system is. It will be like Groundog Day next summer with the knockout followed by the hysterical inquest. We will have reached 46 years of hurt and within touching distance of the half century.

  • Comment number 45.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, why can't England set themselves up to mimic Man United? Rooney is not an out and out striker, play him in a free role behind someone such as Welbeck, Carroll etc. Use two skilled midfielders and counter-attack at pace down the wings. Basically use the current Man Utd first XI and replace all the non-English players with similar types of players from other clubs, eg Wilshere for Anderson, Terry for Vidic, Cole for Evra etc.

    This is a reason why Spain are so successful, they are doing a Barca impression with Real Madrid stand-ins. Most of the team already plays together and are playing the same system with players in their correct positions. Capello's system is non-sensical because no-one in the Premiership plays that way!

  • Comment number 46.

    "The much maligned Walcott, who was sitting on the bench, "

    Errr, no he wasn't

  • Comment number 47.

    England were poor last night, bar relatively lively performances from Cahill and Downing i think the rest were sub-par. Rooney gave his usual selfless performance, filling into to midfield when Frank Lampard couldn't be bothered to flounce back, but offered nothing in attack. He recieved no support in and around the box from anybody, the one time i can remember extra bodies getting into the box resulted in a goal from Ashley Young.

    Surely the idea of playing Lampard alongside Barry and Milner is to allow the Chelsea man to what he allegedly does best (for Chelsea, not England of course), get forward and to score some goals. He managed to turn in the all too familiar performances of simply occupying space, he offered nothing in attack, nothing in defence, no pace, no insightful passing and worst of all didn't even seem bothered about getting involved. At 33yrs old he is well and truly passed his prime, Capello needs to realise this quickly if he wants to genuinly change our style of play and results as a whole.

    Manchester Utd have proven already this season that against teams it is possible to play 442 and beat a stubborn team in style. Utd are currently playing without the "holding player" everyone seems to feel is needed at the top level. Now i'm not saying this is the blueprint for success necessarily but i would love to see Capello at least try something different.

    The players talked of his anger that a throw in was thrown down the line rather than back into to defense, this attention to detail was heralded as a good thing. Might i sugest however that instead of concentrating on the little things Mr Capello addresses the big picture here...

    By the time we come to the Euro's next summer we'll have a central midfield of Gerrard, Lampard and Barry with a central defense partnership of Terry and Ferdinand. This has been a tried and trusted formula for failure for years now, the onyl difference this time around is that the players will be one year older, one year closer to the footballing scrapheap.

    We need to introduce young players into the team now, forget Euro 2012 and concentrate on the next world cup. Bed players like Cahill, Jones, Smalling, Henderson, Rodwell (if his form picks up), Shawcross, Wilshere etc into the team now. Take them to the Euros to exerience the tournament atmospehere and have them excited, and ready, for the next World Cup.

    Wales played superbly last night and would deserved a point at the very least. They tried to play in the right way despite, allegedly, lacking the quality to do so. Aaron Ramsay, at the age of 20/21, showed more guile, creativity and hunger than any of our established midfield trio. How England could do with him alongside Wilshere.

    Wales are already planning for WC2014, they have a squad average age of under 25yrs old. These players will play together for years and years, to a blueprint of playing good passing and attacking football. Come the qualifiers they will have be ready to have a go, no doubt about that. England however will still have the same tired old players, the same tired old gameplan and we'll be left feeling dissapointed yet again.

  • Comment number 48.

    Sick to the teeth of everyone, players included, saying that 3 points is the important thing. A win is a win..etc etc ...
    Those comments are only applicable if the team is pure quality and the p*** poor performance was a one off. Get real ! What is it about England that we can be so blinkered to their ineptitude ? We were terrible.
    Lampard was, as always, an embarrassment. Strolling around in midfield looking like a proper poser. Did nothing of note until he came off. Parker was on 5 minutes before playing the must sublime pass of the entire game.
    Rooney was in invisible mode. Cole was poor. The entire defence were absolutely terrified of Bale who seemed to take pleasure in running rings around them.
    The only players who came out of that game in credit were Barry, Downing and Hart (for what could have been the most crucial save..even tho the whistle had gone).

    Come the Euro finals England will be shown up for what they are. A bunch of average Joe's masquerading as a proper football team.

  • Comment number 49.

    What awful blogging, the article after the Bulgaria was laughably of a knee-jerk type.
    What happened this time, is England came up against a young, quick, and somewhat rejuvenated Wales team who played without fear. Add to that the fact England lose their balls playing at Wembley in front of that crowd, then it was quite a tense match.

  • Comment number 50.

    Capello picked the wrong team.

    Lampard, Milner and Barry has no pace or creativity.

    Carroll should be the on playin up top on his own, pace, height strength, heading ability and the best striker of the ball I've ever seen. Unlike Rooney he will always be up front, Rooney always drops deep to influence play, he should support the striker, not be him.

    Having a frontline of Carroll, with Walcott, Young and Rooney occupying the wings, there is an England frontline with pace, guile and ability. When fit I imagine the tel centre mids will be Wilshere and Parker. Gerrard would come back into contention in that role, but Parker and Wilshere would be better options.

  • Comment number 51.

    A win is a win and the goal was quality. England will play better against less defensively minded opposition in the big matches. They were unlucky against Germany in South Africa and are generally a top 5 ranked side on merit. As a Welsh fan however the continuing tragedy is to see Wales classified and stuck as a 100+ ranked country so that continually get tough WC and EC draws. When we have a reasonable full squad out we can challenge the best and it wasn't that long ago that we gave the likes of Italy and Germany a good match too. How Wales are stuck where they while many inferior African, Asian and Eastern European countries are ranked well above them is something FIFA need to sort out. But I guess FIFA only sort things out that are financially or politically to their advantage.

  • Comment number 52.

    England’s performance aside, would it not have been better to write an article including a critique on both of the teams on the night. Wales being a Home Nations team and all.

    I have no problem reading about the perpetual rollercoaster that is the England national teams development but I think it is unfair to focus on how ‘poor’ England were and not highlight – in more detail – the possible upsurge of the Welsh national side. I appreciate an article was written the other day about this…but then I’m sure for every article on the BBC regarding the ‘other’ Home Nation teams there are probably ten lambasting / glorifying (delete were appropriate) England.

    There is more to football than the England national team.

  • Comment number 53.

    Lampard is the consummate professional, but he is not good enough to do the job England require of him. Mainly because he ends up doing it on his own! Our midfield and wide position was shocking and Rooney, quite rightly, couldnt do his job.
    What possessed the manager to change the game plan from Bulgaria? Lampard can do the job when he has help.
    Stevie G is the same, but its time to take in on the chin and get the younger players used to the system. They are the ones we should be taking to Poland.

  • Comment number 54.

    It's not wembley nerves that's the problem, it's the fact that lampard was in the team, if you put Ramsey in England's midfeild instead of Lampard last night, England would have won the game easily.........Keep picking Lampard capello & a heavy loss in the summer again against a decent side will happen...Like Germany

  • Comment number 55.

    It looked to me like Capello learned all he knows about football by watching the Simpsons. I pass it to you, you pass it back to me. I pass it to you, you pass it back to me. I pass it to you, you pass it back to me. Yawn!
    It was beyond belief in the last minute when, after having just brought Carroll on, we had a free kick close to the corner in a perfect crossing position and started messing about near the flag. Against Wales! And we still gave possession away in any case!
    It was an absolutely clueless, uninspired and inept performance. Did we even have a captain?

  • Comment number 56.

    Much is made of one glaring miss by the Welsh, overlooking the fact that there were two (? three) scoring opportunities that stronger teams than Wales might have put away. England need to experience more time at Wembley and they need to tighten their midfield. A functioning Carroll would be useful too.

  • Comment number 57.


  • Comment number 58.

    England were poor there's no doubting that, but it seems a common thing for people to over react to disappointments in British sport. It was highly annoying to watch England play without, what seemed at times direction and passion, but personally I feel this was more down to the Welsh performance rather than anything else. They were, by all accounts, fantastic.

    More of a case of Wales taking a leap forward than England taking a step back......

  • Comment number 59.

    I can't believe in all the criticism of individuals that no one has mentioned the name Downing. Another who flatters to deceive. What concerned me was the constant sideways and backwards movement. As for Wales - most of England's problems were self inflicted rather than any inspired play by the Welsh, Ramsey being the exception and the best player on the pitch.

  • Comment number 60.

    To Yasin...needless to say I disagree with you. I thought there was plenty of promise in Sofia and a freshness around the squad which I referred to here. I also stated very clearly in the Bulgaria blog that all praise of England had to be placed in the context of how poor the opposition were.

    Last night was poor because of all the things I mentioned, but I made a point of stressing the positives that are emerging. Also Walcott's removal robbed the team of some of the pace that made Sofia so refreshing.

    I think there is the chance for England to make further progress between now and the summer. Enough to win Euro 2012? Not in my opinion.

  • Comment number 61.

    All this rubbish about Wembley "nerves". These are players who come out and perform week-in week-out for their clubs. They don't get nervous because it's Wembley, that is just an excuse.

    The issue is one of tactics and approach to the game. Capello is am old school Italian coach. If you ever watched Italian Football on Ch4 in the 90s you will remember hundreds of turgid 1-0 victories in matches between teams who didn't want to lose. That is the difference at Wembley, Capello sends the team out with the intention of not losing rather than with a plan to win.

    I simply do not understand the role that Capello was asking Rooney to play last night. Isolated from the midfield, asked to hold up long balls against defenders 4-6 inches taller than him. No runners and no support if he did get ball to feet. This is exactly the same issue from the world cup. If you are going to play this way, don't waste Rooney's energy and confidence on a role he is not suited to. He should have been playing behind a striker meaning that he was getting the ball deeper and to feet - he can then turn and take advantage of others from midfield drawing defenders out and working angles for shots and passes. Last night he was left on his own with 3 defenders and the ball coming to him at head height. England cannot retain possession in that way. If you have an isolated forward you must have at least some flair in the middle of the park. England's midfield 3 are about as flair free as any in the world game.

    We spend the week focussed on Gareth Bale - just give Alex Ferguson a call, he never plays well against Utd... why.. because he has to spend a large portion of his time defending therefore he is not a threat going forward. This is a key advantage of trying to win a game rather than trying not to lose.

    90's Italian tactics.....they were dead then.

  • Comment number 62.

    Why was Lampard picked? Why was Barry picked at all after South Africa? These players have consistently failed for England now for at least 6 years. Drop them. My holding MF 2 would be Parker (Yes i know he's old but he does a good job) and Wilshire. Downing and Young and Rooney/Bent.
    I would also shake up the defence by dropping "Capt, Leader Legend" (how Terry is still picked after his mutinous outburst in SA is baffling) and bring in Smalling, Jones or Cahill. These should all be played at next yrs Euros as experience for the WC qualifiers and hopefully the WC itself.
    Note to FIFA-who does yr rankings? How on earth are England 4th???

  • Comment number 63.

    40. At 09:21 7th Sep 2011, kanchelskis_legend wrote:


    who said i watched them?

    presumptuous lil man

    wrong again!


  • Comment number 64.


    Wales are ranked so lowly because they can't win games, simple as that. There is no other motive from FIFA or anybody else, simply Wales are not good enough.

    This however can change. Wales demonstrated last night that they have a young squad capable of standing up to a strong team like England. With players like Ramsay, Bale and Bellamy Wales will always have a chance (when you look at Northern Ireland's star players for instance it shows what a blessed position Wales are actually in). Pick up a few wins and find some consistency then there is no reason that Wales can't climb back up to the ranking heights of the Hughes era.

  • Comment number 65.

    A midfield trio of Barry, Lampard and Milner was always going to lack dynamism. Personally I don't think we should see the reinstatement of Lampard as a step backwards. As Phil points out, it was to protect Parker and ensure his availability for Montenegro.

    What is interesting is Phil's inclusion of Gerrard alongside Wilshire as someone who we should be looking forward to coming back. Shouldn't he now be in the same position as Lampard? An experienced head and a good player to bring of the bench?

    I think at the moment Capello's got his sights on the following as the 2-3-1 part of his formation for Euro 2012:


    Looks alright to me, and yesterday's setup was barely representative of this 'first choice' front six.

    So not an ideal showing, but nothing to lay a brick about, in my opinion.

    Oh by the way, we're top of the group and undefeated. Like Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain. Not terrible company to be in, is it?

  • Comment number 66.

    "[England] arrogantly assumed they just had to do the same again [just turn up], so played like it was game over when they were just 1-0 up."

    Yep, and to be fair, it worked.

  • Comment number 67.

    HAHA CharadeYouAre

    Sorry. I just assumed that anyone coming on here and offering their opinions on the match, might've actually watched the match. I forgot that you leave everything to the power of your weird and wonderful imagination.

    ps 8-2 ;-)

  • Comment number 68.

    You are only as good as the opposing team allows you to be, Bulgaria were appalling and clearly made England look better than they actually are. Wales, in their first encounter with England, tried to play out of defence, they didn't challenge for the ball, once again making England look reasonable.

    Last night a lowly ranked Wales did not play in their own half, got amongst the England midfieldfielders and made England look exactly what they are, devoid of creativity and incapable of breaking the opposition down. We were lucky last night, thank god they didn't have a striker.

    Wales have corrected their mistakes. How does a team like Wales with an inexperienced manager, a very limited pool of talent, manage to do that?

    Until we get a managerial team with vision and an ability to recognise what is required, England will continue as they have done for years. Qualifying should be a given for a nation like England. In theory we should be amongst the favourites in every tournament we enter, considering the available talent we have and especially compared to the so called lesser nations.

  • Comment number 69.

    When the inevitable happens this summer and England get knocked out QF (If they are lucky!) I guess we will all blame the following.

    The Press, WAGS, Italian manager, players overconfident, players underconfident, penalty takers, Frank Lampard, the weather, the ref, Fifa, The FA, David Beckham, A player winking, no winter break, the Premier league, too many foreigners in the game, roots and branches, player salaries, the ball.

    Or perhaps we could all suggest that until England realises that passing, technique, game intelligence tactical discipline and mental strength are the key components that are required for international success, then they will forever be also rans.

    However, I'm sure that even if in the unlikely event this is realised, It will be forgotten as soon as the Premier League kicks off and two big English lumps fly in, studs showing (displaying passion, determination, pride in shirt, fighting spirit, yawn!) for a meaningless 50/50 on the halfway line to the cheers of the baying fans!

  • Comment number 70.

    Yes we won, but with a better finisher (Wales's continuing weak point) the fairer result would have occurred.

    An average, but well organised team which passed the ball better, again showed us up.

    We are going to meet lots of well organised teams who can pass the ball better in the finals - we need the ball passers in the team. I'll go against the trend and say that only Barry of last night's midfield has the technical passing ability required at International level (but he's slow!). Wilshire has the technique and the pace.

  • Comment number 71.

    Ok. so England played poorly. THEY STILL WON. You can't play the beautiful game every match - that's Spain's job (they have the players for it).

  • Comment number 72.

    Last night's performance underlines how far away England really are from being anywhere near the 4th best team in the world accolade bestowed upon them; whilst Wales put on a performance of far greater quality than their own FIFA ranking.

    For me, the main story about last night is what lies ahead and what have we got to look forward to? After the debacle of South Africa I had expected a 'changing of the guard'; an anticipation of what we are seeing now, with new younger and fresher players being utilised more greatly and the demise of the predictable first XI that we often see with England. This wasn't really the case and I think we are suffering for it now.

    In my view, we are no closer to really challenging for a tournament title than we have been for many years; in fact, I would argue on the general performance of England and other nations (the increasingly impressive South American countries, the young and vibrant Germany, Spain etc), I would say we are further away in terms of our ability to bring home the trophy.

    I thought last night's performance lacked direction, positivity and imagination and are three symbols in my view of the Capello reign. Rooney looked lost and fraught all alone up front, in midfield we were clearly second best and although I rate Gareth Bale very highly, for England to completely change tactic to combat one player from a team ranked over 100 places below cries of desperation in my opinion. What would we do against one of the World's best I wonder?

    For me, England will stutter in the finals and an incexperienced crop of players will be ushered in and relied upon to secure qualification for Brazil; a process that I think we should have adopted post Germany (and using them as a great example). As for Wales; the future is very bright.

  • Comment number 73.

    "63. At 09:41 7th Sep 2011, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:
    40. At 09:21 7th Sep 2011, kanchelskis_legend wrote:


    who said i watched them?

    presumptuous lil man

    wrong again!


    So you're offering an opinion on something you didn't even see? That makes MUCH more sense...

  • Comment number 74.

    England had a decent first half in my opinion, but were average the second half. I will not say they were poor, because that would only be appropriate in a drubbing like against the Germans. I'm a firm believer that John Terry is a fine defender, and showed at one point an awesome tackle on the edge of the box. Also Lampard was always available for his team mates. However, I feel now is the time to build a team for the World Cup, and try them out at the Euros.

    Being a Villa fan, I take great delight in seeing Cahill, Barry, Milner, Young, Bent, Downing all featuring for England these days, and I only wish we had all of these players still. I will say of the above who played last night, only Milner didn't play to a good level.

    My personal choice for England's starting eleven would be:
    GK Hart
    DR Richards
    DL Cole
    DC Cahill
    DC Jagielka
    MC Wilshire
    MC Barry
    AMR Walcott
    AML Young
    AMC Rooney
    SC Bent

    It is time for the alleged 'Golden Generation' to step aside for this new team.

    Wales did the province proud, but time and time again they failed to capitalise on the good runs of players, and Bale at one point seemed to forget he has team mates (to much wind being blown up him). Earnshaw, my gran could have put that one away!

  • Comment number 75.

    Did anyone see the passage of play around the 70min mark? It had to be replayed back again and again to be believed...haven't laughed like that watching football since Dalian Atkinson scored THAT goal in '92/93.

    For those struggling to remember it was when ramsey floated the ball to Earnshaw, somehow he failed to control a slow flighted pass, bounces off his chest, then there are two ricochets from attempts to clear the ball, a playground-style 50/50, then the Wales fullback volleys the ball down the line and ends up in a crumpled heap on the touchline.

    Apart from that, great win and i am honestly optimistic about our chances next year. Spain are the only half decent side around. And even then their defence is shakey...certainly something a fully fit Carroll will be looking forward to exploiting.

  • Comment number 76.

    I dread watching England. Why? Because invariably with the very rare exception they disappoint. When did a player last leap out at you, grab you metaphorically by the throat and say,
    "Look at me, I am World Class, I am inspired, I am on fire?" Never because he doesn't exist. ( Even Rooney despite all the hype is not consistent) There is a kind of perpetual apathy and sloth there that appears to affect the performances generally. In Bulgaria had England really been up to par they should have scored at least a brace of goals in the second half; Bulgaria were dreadful so it was an opportunity for England to shine - it did not happen.The team gets carried away on one quite reasonable result and then looses the plot in the next game. Certainly forget 2012. If the team makes it passed the quarters-finals then it will be a fluke. Remember that rare night in Munich: Germany 1 -England 5. a great precursor to the WC with Sven at the helm but it proved to be a "false dawn".
    We will always be also-rans until someone has the courage to purge the team, stand down many of the older players and reinvent the English game. Other countries move on, England just marks time and it's so irritating. No final since 1966 - and we call ourselves a footballing nation.

  • Comment number 77.

    If England gets seeded in the group stages I can see them going to the semis if not then they'll be out in the quarters

  • Comment number 78.

    #23 - wonderfully expressed.

  • Comment number 79.

    Why are so many journalists in this country blinded by the fact that Lampard has been poor in an England shirt for years?

    Does he have something on all of you?

  • Comment number 80.

    The day England can be considered even remotely serious challengers for one of the majors is the day that they learn to build squads with unity and stop the hyperbole.

    Wayne Rooney is a very, very good striker but he is arguably the only player that could hold a candle to one of the top teams. That there is the reason why England will fare poorly against the more able nations.

    Look at the way the Germans have operated recently. They made it to the Euros final with a squad that was in transition. Come the WC they looked like serious contenders and were probably the best team to watch. Where do you think it will go from here? My money is on them winning something big in the next few years. That is what England should do. Forego a couple of major competitions to build a squad capable of competing.

  • Comment number 81.

    hammersmithjack - England weren't unlucky against Germany. They were completely outclassed, and stank the tournament out for that matter!

  • Comment number 82.

    I don't mean to sound like a bitter Welshman, but seeing as your organisation represents Britain, why couldn't the title of this blog relate to the success of Wales as opposed to the failure of England? It's high time the British Broadcast Corporation posts a blog about the Welsh national football team, and I should think that last night's match provides the perfect opportunity. There is simply no need to turn Wales' magnificent performance into one of England's many failures.

  • Comment number 83.

    Let us not forget that aswel as the Earnshaw miss wales also suffered from a poor linesmen decision when he blew up for offside when Bale was through on goal! Andy townsend comment after that inncident made me laugh stating that maybe next time "wales will get away with it" as if it was Wales fault for it!

  • Comment number 84.

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

  • Comment number 85.

    Bring back Beckham - he's the only Englishman who can regularly put dangerous balls into the box. And we should now begin the long process of finding players who can pass - which would be nice.

    As for England being great one minute and rubbish the next. This is silly, England have been consistently average for decades.

  • Comment number 86.

    Woefull! What went wrong? Maybe the Lambarts and veterans have lost their enthusiasm. The top counties need not worry about England next year on this performance

  • Comment number 87.

    The difference between England in Sofia and England against Wales is all Capello's fault. Parker > Lampard these days and Walcott is a more attacking player than Milner. Given Theo had an injury he should have sent out a statement of intent and started with Johnson. Wales are ranked 117th, we should have been going all out to attack them.

    You (and others) referred to Lampard and Barry as "the shield" where was that shield when Bale was picking up the ball between midfield and defence not far outside of our penalty area? Neither can play that role effectively - Barry has better defensive midfielders along side him (De Jong/Toure) as does Lampard. That's not to say either are terrible midfielders, just that to operate better they need someone better defensively alongside them. I've been saying for the past few years that England would have been a different animal all together if Hargreaves had been fit the last few years.

    I personally would have started with Cleverly over Lampard, his days as an international player must be coming to an end at 33 whilst Cleverly has had a really impressive start to the season. I may have even picked Jones alongside him, I haven't seen him play in midfield but by the looks of things he certainly can defend.

    The reason England don't do well in games like this is because they send out such a negative team. Milner was clearly there to counter the Bale threat, but they should have trusted our #1 left back to do the business against him and asked Wales how they'd cope with our 5 attacking players rather than the 3 we did pick. I'm not anti Milner, I don't mind seeing him in the side, but only in a midfield 3 that contains a more inventive person than Barry or Lampard alongside him (Wiltshire for example).

    We wont win the tournament but we should be qualifying - then we should be expecting to get through the group stages, anything else is a failure but it is foolish to expect anything else.

  • Comment number 88.

    Watching Capello's Judasvilla played off the park at times by a brighter, younger, more enthusiastic and generally less wealthy set of Welshmen made me wish for Ian Holloway to be immediately appointed England manager. Football should be about entertainment not just qualification where only embarrassment awaits amongst the real giants of international football.
    Holloway could return the smile to the face of the England team, speaks English (of a sort) and ignores the media hype.

  • Comment number 89.

    I couldn't see one England player out there who had the technical skills to make either the Barca or the Spain subs bench.

  • Comment number 90.

    As an Englishman, I'd like to voice my disappointment with the huge bias of commentary and even refereeing of this match. Certain sections of the media (ITV and BBC), forget that they cater for more than England. And the ref gave us too many breaks also.

  • Comment number 91.

    Re Andy and Gerrard Lampard etc retired. I have said for ages now that lampard is past his best, Barry and milner dull and gerrard is overated-too many of his passes fly into touch or don't get to their intended destination-even i can still hit the occasional good long pass and score the occasional belter from 30 yards-lets leave him at Anfield. There are enough young uns to suggest we have some class among them so lets give them a chance. Last night was so boring and i never saw the weekend game to comment on the difference between when lampard etc were introduced.

  • Comment number 92.

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

  • Comment number 93.

    Someone referred to England as 'pedantic'. I think 'pedestrian' is the word you're looking for you ignoramus.
    Lampard did not play well, but frankly they were all below par. The majority of you having a pop at him probably all get suckered in by 'the latest trends', believe what you read in The Daily Mail or The Sun and watch Hollyoaks. I give up.

  • Comment number 94.

    Did anyone else notice that when Lampard went off, Wales took control of the game?

    Just saying . . .

  • Comment number 95.

    why is it that england seem to be unable to play good football at wembley??

    Take a few years ago, we lost 3-2 to Croatia and didnt go to the Euro's (embarresment), yet when we played in Croatia we win 4-1???

    Is it so called 'wembley pressure' or what? :S

  • Comment number 96.

    At 10:20 7th Sep 2011, Ten_Thousand_Fists wrote:

    Did anyone else notice that when Lampard went off, Wales took control of the game?


    Good grief. What game were you watching?

  • Comment number 97.

    England is abysmal. They will remain abysmal. Why? It's the obsession with irredeemibly mediocre players like Andy Carroll et. al. It's the obsession with "pace and power".

  • Comment number 98.

    At 10:20 7th Sep 2011, Ten_Thousand_Fists wrote:

    Did anyone else notice that when Lampard went off, Wales took control of the game?

    Just saying . .

    How far are you into Champ Man mate?

  • Comment number 99.

    2 games, 6 points, 0 conceded. Gerrard and Wilshere to come back into the team. Well done boys.







    Gerrard and Wilshere would make all the difference in that team. Both got the creativity to release Young/Downing/Rooney more often and Gerrad can drive forward to help Rooney out and still help Parker out in defence when needed. That team fully fit and firing would have a shot at making the semis in my opinion. And once your in the semis.... anything can happen.

  • Comment number 100.

    Barry / Milner Not Internaltional Class Players.

    No Skill. Cannot beat a man and very over rated.


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