Time for the new generation to shine?
Fabio Capello will send his team out in front of an expected jury of 60,000 for the first time since this summer’s World Cup failure, when Germany ruthlessly removed the Italian’s previously impenetrable aura in the wake of a miserable group campaign.
It is not going to be pleasant. The boo-boys are ready in force and, in an apparent bid to appease, players and manager alike have said that their followers will be right to voice their criticism – volunteering themselves for the stocks and offering the rancid tomatoes.
After avoiding the Football Association sack for the lifeless and stunted displays in South Africa, Capello was urged to axe many of his flops, who he claims are crippled by nerves and tiredness at international level.
The Golden Generation – John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard & Wayne Rooney et al – has proved to be somewhat of the Cursed Generation, with the theory claiming that the weight of media hype has created egos, expectations and over-confidence. But what came first, the chicken or the egg?
Hungary’s visit has therefore been billed as the chance to forget the World Cup and the time to move on, an opportunity for rising stars at club level who have not had and wasted their opening under previous international regimes.
Wes Brown and Paul Robinson recently embarrassed Capello by retiring from international football following their recalls to mean that the starting XI against Egervari’s men looks set to follow a familiar pattern.
Bristol City’s new No.1, David James, and West Ham’s Rob Green have not been included to suggest that Joe Hart could stake a long-term claim as England’s goalkeeper. That represents an intelligent alteration.
But in defence it is likely that Glen Johnson, Cole and Terry, who were humiliated by Germany, will keep their places as the only change to that afternoon in Bloemfontein is likely to be the selection of Tottenham’s Michael Dawson. Rio Ferdinand is still absent due to injury.
Despite the potential of Arsenal teenager Jack Wilshere, the midfield of James Milner, Lampard, Gareth Barry and captain Gerrard, who could not find the creativity to breakdown Algeria and chased the shadows of Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller, are also likely to start.
Striker Rooney will have a major point to prove after failing to score at the World Cup, having found 26 Premier League goals in 2009/10, but his partner is likely to provide the most significant shift in Capello’s stubborn mindset.
With Emile Heskey retired, Peter Crouch overlooked and Darren Bent withdrawn through injury, Fulham’s Bobby Zamora is expected to start and end his long wait for senior international recognition after he missed the World Cup due to an Achilles operation.
The Hungary line-up will include the familiar faces of Zamora’s club team-mate Zoltan Gera, Ipswich’s Tamas Priskin and new Portman Road signing Marton Fulop.
Possible starting XIs:
England: Hart, Johnson, Dawson, Terry, A.Cole, Milner, Lampard, Barry, Gerrard, Rooney, Zamora.
Hungary: Fulop, Szelesi, Juhasz, Vanczak, Elek, Rudolf, Huszti, Vadocz, Dzsudzsak, Gera, Priskin. (Sky Sports)
Whilst the timing of this friendly is odd to say the least it will give Fabio Capello, and his players, a chance to look to the future and attempt to move on from the poor World Cup showing and the use of a number of new faces should help bring an end to that embarrassing episode.
Whilst the nucleus of the side remains the same there is every chance the Italian will look to blood some youngsters during the game and the likes of Michael Dawson and Bobby Zamora will get the chance to enjoy the rewards for a good season last term.
Hungary will be no push overs and their solid defensive style may take some time to break through and if the supporters start to turn against England then it could be a very long night for Fabio and co. but if they get an early goal and romp home with ease then perhaps this whole exercise will have served some purpose.
Highlights of previous meetings of the two sides
England 3-1 Hungary 2006 (Crouch Robot dance)
Hungary 3-1 England 1981 World Cup Qualifier
England 3-6 Hungary 1953