Date:Tuesday September 11 2012
Less than three months ago, England managed to sneak a 1-0 European Championship victory over the Ukrainians, by the narrowest of margins.
That night England got lucky! A spectacular John Terry clearance was adjudged not to have crossed the line and it was 3 points and ultimately qualification to the Quarter finals, and Ukraine went out in the Group stages. Though England only lost on Pens to the Italians in the next game, it was very clear that Roy Hodgson had a massive task to take England from competition qualifiers to competition contenders and in truth with the quality and number of players at his disposal, it is hard to see it happening in his era, though perhaps his task should be more about firming up the foundations as opposed to looking to win the big trophies.
This England side isn't as bad as many perceive. The main squad is competitive against all but the very best, but at this moment is probably caught in between building for tomorrow, but still retaining the best players available, even if they probably wont play a part in Brazil in 20 months time. The reality with football is that You probably have to play the best players and slowly evolve the side slowly. Gerrard, Lampard, Cole, Parker and a few more are still the best players for their position and the task for Hodgson is to integrate their experience and the potential of Cleverley and hopefully Wilshere and others into the squad and team, as seamlessly as possible.
Moldova was easy. Too easy! But lets take that game and result, as early season games in far flung places are always ones to see a dire performance and perhaps a slip up. 3 points and a plus five goal difference, is a great start to a qualifying group, whoever the opposition and however terrible they are. Ukraine will be far harder, but it is also a game that we can look at the team and Hodgson's impact, to see how things are shaping up and away from their home fans, we might see a different opposition and Ukraine are not always the best of travellers, but even with several key and experienced players missing, it will be interesting to see what Hodgson has managed to alter to make England both more solid and also a more cohesive unit.
Terry, Cole, Parker, Barry and Rooney are all highly experienced players that will be missing, whilst both Daniel Sturridge and Theo Walcott are both rated doubtful with a virus that will hopefully not spread throughout the camp. To a degree, the loss of the experienced heads is a good thing as if surely pushes others who are hungry and the long term future. More good performances from the likes of Baines, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cleverley, will put massive pressure on the old guard and would any of us be really upset if we didn't see them in an england shirt again, as we favour a longer term strategy, just as long as those stepping up and good enough, and so far they all appear to have the attributes to take us a long way.
Following last Saturdays win, I can't see to many changes from Hodgson. Defensively, aside from replacing Terry with either Jagielka or Cahill, I can't see a change. Kyle walker has started the season slowly and Glen Johnson did enough in the last game to keep his place, even though defensively I feel Walker is the better player and will ultimately become the regular right back. In the middle, I feel that Lampard, Gerrard and Cleverley looked good as a unit, and as long as the two old boys have the legs for another game so close to the last, I would go with them, but I worry slightly that after 60-70 mins their legs might be struggling and you can't afford to change both in competitive games every time.
In attack, I would again look to Defoe, with Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner supporting and linking midfield with attack. As was written in another article, milner is a managers dream, even if to some fans he is a nightmare. For me is had a disappointing Euro's but as a player on form offers a huge support to the team unit and that is often underestimated as players with the occasional burst of brilliance catch the eye, but rarely put in half the shift of Milner. Ox is a player that has massive potential to become a truly great England player. Arsenal fans must love the idea of having him and Wilshere playing together for years to come and England should be doing the same.
My team for tomorrow: Hart; Johnson, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines; Gerrard, Lampard, Cleverley; Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Defoe.
Date:Tuesday September 11 2012
McManaman Ruled Out (Saturday May 18 2013)
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)
|McManaman Ruled Out
» England : 18/05/2013 14:05:00
» 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