Did Fabio’s men do anywhere near enough to erase a World Cup nightmare?
First off, to those who attended the match at Wembley and booed from the outset, why did you bother turning up? For those of you who grew disillusioned as the game wore on and decided to boo the players at that point, again, why do so? It was an international friendly and was not worthy of such strenuous shows of irritation. For those who managed to stick with it and cheer the players on throughout, for those people I have the utmost respect.
Whereas in South Africa there was a sense of players not giving their all. Misguided players who appeared to not give a damn. Last night was a big improvement in that regard but that was not to say there were not a great many faults as well as mundane performances from some players who I still don’t believe have anything to offer the national team.
First off, can anyone tell me what Gareth Barry does? I would say that 95% of his passes revolve around hitting the ball five yards sideways, usually to Steven Gerrard. The Manchester City man is a mystery to me. A player who takes the expression “flatters to decieve” and then runs with it. The former Aston Villa man was at one time the type of player who pushed forward and get involved with an attack, weighed in with more than his fair share of goals and generally looked like and impressive midfield force, all of that seems like years ago now.
The game itself was a little bit more free and open than your average meaningless friendly and some players added some much needed freshness to Fabio Capello’s line up and there were a number of plus points to come out of the match.
Starting from the back I think it would be fair to say that Joe Hart was solid and has confidence beyond his years and is in my view the clear number one choice right now and should really have been given a chance at the World Cup, maybe that’s one lesson Capello would admit he should have learned back in South Africa.
At times the combination of Phil Jagielka and John Terry didn’t really gel and they left big empty spaces between themselves and Michael Dawson’s introduction in the second half didn’t exactly improve matters. Glen Johnson had a fairly tepid game, not pushing forward anywhere near as much as usual but that is probably more to do with the out and out wingers placed ahead of him, more on them shortly. Ashley Cole was relatively assured but I was very impressed with Kieron Gibbs who looked very adventurous when he came on, without being a maverick. The Arsenal man really does look like he has a bright future for both club and country.
Then we come to another Gunner, this time Theo Walcott who always excites but too rarely delivers. He repeatedly beat his man for pace and strode forward only to deliver a poor ball into the box, the good thing about Theo is that he gives himself enough chances to get one right. He is always thinking in an attacking manner, even more than a typical wide man, so every once in a while he gets it spot on, this was evidenced by his excellent run into the box and then cool cut back to Adam Johnson who fired high and wide.
Adam Johnson is an exciting prospect and a player of infinitely more quality than his former Boro predecessor Stewart Downing. The Man City man was bright and composed and delivered some good balls into the box and could well have had a goal for his efforts. Wayne Rooney got stuck in but appeared to grow more and more annoyed as the game wore on as things failed to go his way, but as always his heart was in it and this would go down as a poor performance in my book. James Milner did little whereas Ashley Young was a live wire that the Hungarians couldn’t really cope with.
Special mentions should go to two performances in particular. Steven Gerrard did of course single handedly win the game with two moments of brilliance. The Liverpool man had one of his best games in an England shirt. The other player who really shone was Bobby Zamora. For some time the Fulham forward has been the object of ridicule but he showed last night that his old fashioned attacking approach can be startlingly effective against certain types of opposition. The Fulham man could have had a hat-trick and deserves a chance in the competitive matches to come.
Overally as an exercise, the match probably answered more questions than it presented and it went some way to proving that the up and coming crop of players are and exciting bunch of raw and as yet unpolished performers who could well give Fabio Capello a good selection headache in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.
Glen Johnson 6.5
Ashley Cole 6.5
Adam Johnson 7.5