Date:Tuesday June 19 2012
Tonight England`s Euro Campaign will probably be judged as a success, or failure in a game where the pressure might play as big a part as the quality (or lack of) of the football itself...
The Ukraine have the benefit of playing on home turf, in front of the majority of their own fans, but on a night where they have to win, could this be a curse just as much as a blessing? Though I felt that France were the stronger team and better side when they faced Ukraine, it did cross my mind that perhaps the home team choked a little, as the pressure consumed them, as the reality dawned that a win would send them into the Quarter finals, whilst anything other than victory tonight, will send them out of the competition.
That pressure could also work for them in forcing them to focus on a must win game, but for a nation that lacks top level international experience, I feel that how they go into this game and how they start it, will define their tournament. We all know that England are not a great side, far from it, but they have the experience and maybe for once, less pressure on their shoulders than the opposition, that could again work in their favour.
What impressed me most against Sweden was England`s ability to bounce back from going 2-1 down and recovering their composure. In past games and era`s, I believe we would have buckled and lost the game, but is this a sign of good management, quality or the fact that the pressure and fear of pervious tournaments, when the expectation has been suffocating is not there, yet at least?
The expected return of Wayne Rooney is sure to be a major boost to England, not only for his individual quality as a footballer, but also what I believe he will add to the team in terms of its ability to work on their shape and flexibility to improve on what they have already built upon in the opening two games.
For me, I would start with him playing off of Danny Welbeck, which will be harsh on Andy Carroll, but I feel that the two United players will already have an understanding, which is also why I would retain Ashley Young, who has so far disappointed. But that could also depend on the form of Theo Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Walcott has been passed fit, but personally I feel his benefit to England remains as an impact player as opposed to a starter, which may yet earn a reprieve for James Milner on the right, but...
In the case of Young, I wonder if he simply got confused with his orders against Sweden? Sounds a little lightweight in that assessment, but he simply didn`t seem to know when to stick wide and get in quality crosses or come inside and bolster the midfield or lose his marker. That I feel will be different as England revert back to playing one attacker in the hole, as opposed to the two that were deployed last time. Ashley has never been the stereotypical left winger, and I feel he struggled with his decision making, with Rooney and Welbeck in the side, I believe it will feel more comfortable, as rooney is likely to occupy the space, which may allow Young to concentrate on running up and down, as opposed to every which way, which I believe was too much for him, and we will hopefully see the results.
On the right, I would be highly tempted to go with the attacking flair of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain over the more disciplined Milner or Theo Walcott. For me, The Ox, is already a better thinking player than Theo, and will also offer more defensively as well as a greater physical threat. This would be harsh on his Arsenal team mate after his performance when coming off the bench last Friday, but that is his best role, in coming on and offering a specific threat. Ox is a better all round player already, but he also offers a more dynamic option than Milner, though in truth I expect the City man to get the nod.
My other area of concern is defensively. John Terry was breathing out of his backside after 20 minutes on Friday and was consistently caught out for pace and positioning. Is he carrying an injury or was it simply a bad day at the office for the Chelsea man? To an extent, I do worry about losing his leadership qualities, but are his declining strengths still outweighing the increasing weaknesses to his game? Is it any coincidence that his full backs always seem to look outstanding in making last gasp tackles, when Terry is alongside them? Tonight, I would be very tempted to make a change at the back, even though I don`t directly blame Terry for the Swedish or French goals, but perhaps we need to rest JT and perhaps look to either Jones or Jagielka to partner Lescott, and see what happens.
My side tonight would be as follows: Hart; Johnson, Jagielka, Lescott, Cole; Parker, Gerrard; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Young, Rooney and Welbeck. The addition of two attacking wide men will perhaps inhibit, Steven Gerrard, and the runs of the full backs at times, but that may well be more about discipline and communication between the players. With two CB`s that are quicker and more mobile, and Scott Parker tidying things up, without a need or ambition to push up, we can comfortably manage to offer enough defensive cover, whilst massively increasing the flair, pace and quality in the final third.
I only hope that Roy Hodgson doesn`t look to play a more cautious game, which is also what I believe Ukraine might expect. But in discounting the injured players that aren`t available for this tournament, I believe my selection is pretty close to the best we have to offer in terms of mixing defensive stability with attacking flair and tonight could be the opportunity to prove our quality, before facing either Italy or Spain, in a game that the majority would expect us to lose comfortably, so again the pressure will be on the opposition more than us for a change...
Date:Tuesday June 19 2012
Captain Cole? (Saturday May 18 2013)
Dream Come True For McCarthy (Saturday May 18 2013)
Pearce On His Squad (Saturday May 18 2013)
England squad announced. (Thursday May 16 2013)
ITV Secure England Games (Thursday May 16 2013)
Another Young Coach Earmarked (Wednesday May 15 2013)
Ferdinand (Finally) Calls Time On England (Wednesday May 15 2013)
Euro U21 Championship Squad Named (Tuesday May 14 2013)
Wilshere To Miss England Friendlies (Tuesday May 14 2013)
The Changing Of The Guard (Tuesday May 14 2013)
» England : 18/05/2013 11:22:00
|Dream Come True For McCarthy
» England : 18/05/2013 10:43:00
|Pearce On His Squad
» England : 18/05/2013 10:15:00
|England squad announced.
» England : 16/05/2013 16:29:00
|ITV Secure England Games
» England : 16/05/2013 09:35:00
|Another Young Coach Earmarked
» England : 15/05/2013 17:57:00
|Ferdinand (Finally) Calls Time On England
» England : 15/05/2013 17:15:00