It wasn’t just the win, it wasn’t just the three points, it wasn’t just beating the main competition in the group to go top, it wasn’t just a victory over a team that humiliated us, twice, in the last competition’s qualification stage, it wasn’t just a convincing victory in a land where no other team had managed to beat the hosts in a competitive match, it wasn’t just that it could have been more with Lampard’s disallowed goal and the penalty (pelanty © Chris Waddle – he really hasn’t got over 1990 yet has he) Heskey should have won.
Yes folks it was more than all that.
It was they way they lined up, not as a lot were expecting. No congested midfield with Beckham dumped in there to cut down the space for the likes of Modric, no Walcott was chosen instead. Speed kills, how many times have we heard it that defenders hate nothing more than facing a flyer and how many times have those that said it then picked Beckham to amble about, get in the road, in the misguided hope one of his set pieces will beat the wall/first defender and not balloon over the bar/players in the box.
The first win the way Walcott gained confidence with his first goal, when he decided to be greedy after he tried to pass to Heskey and failed when he first found himself in that position. No we can’t go completely overboard about Walcott but has the talent and no the self belief born of the hat-trick. So when Beckham came on to replace the youngster with six minutes to go it should be the last time we see the show pony in an England shirt, thank you and goodnight, here’s your ticket back to L.A.
The other win was the total absence of Gerrard, who can now just stay at home and dream of his beloved club in the way that Carragher does. We can stop this crap about trying to fit Lampard and Gerrard in the same midfield, trying to accommodate a player who whinges about his favoured position, which he really can’t be trusted in at this level, even his club manager realised this. He can sit back and think himself lucky he achieved so many caps when his performances game in game out for his country didn’t merit anywhere near that number. He isn’t the greatest player we have, as his ghostwriter insists in every one of his paper columns and its time his fans in the media removed their red tinted specs and their ‘Pool ex-player badges and faced facts, seven years is a long time ago and that’s the last time England really played well with Gerrard in the side.
Still doesn’t mean Lampard should be an automatic for that central position, he had a good game, his best in a long while but there are others that can fill the gap if his performances drop to the level we’ve seen lately.
Hopefully Capello and the players will have taken notice of all this, if it was his game plan to play a highish line, pressing the Croats, forcing them into mistakes and not giving them the time only ball to run through us as they did in the past two games, wide players staying wide and getting behind their opposing fullbacks he could be onto a winner. It’s the only way an England national team can play the last few years under Svennis and McClown have really highlighted this as they repeatedly took leads only to then drop back and try to defend the 18 yard line resulting in balls humped out of defence to no one but the opposition who had all the possession, it’s not a game we can play.
One of the big positives is it could be a lot better, going forward was excellent but the back five were still a shambles.
James didn’t have a lot to do, far less than I certainly figured he would have, but he still managed to make mess of most of it, flapping at balls, dropping easy catches, useless punch outs. Cole A. was even worse, all night leaving plenty of room up his side, always off his man and then too busy trying to play the man instead of the ball, resulting in Cole being on his arse as the Croat cruised by him or a foul. Wes Brown isn’t an international player, in any position in the defence, what would Walcott be like with a half decent player behind him?
The central two are a pair of prats waiting for a fall. Ferdinand still insists on aimless humps up the park when he can bring the ball out of defence as the first goal showed but unfortunately when he does that he starts thinking he’s Pele. As for his partner Terry well that play acting during the Croatia consolation goal was a disgrace that should see the arm band removed. Yes it was a surprise a continental ref (who didn’t have a good game at all) didn’t give a free kick for a foot that high but to then watch what was unfolding and drop to the floor in mock agony was an embarrassment.
So strengthen the defence and then improve the subs bench, no Beckham, no Downing after all if Jenas is preferred on the left to an actual left winger what is the point of the ‘Boro player. Also Jenas should go, yes he played his part last night and played as good as he probably ever has staying out left fighting for the ball and getting to the byline to put in a great ball for Rooney’s goal but he still isn’t a decent league player never mind an international.
Much talk of this being Capello’s Munich after the game, hopefully not because that really was the high point of Svennis reign, yes he qualified and got to the quarters of each tournament but nothing reached the level of that game against the Germans.
No Slaven England aren’t the best team in Europe, there aren’t many great sides out there but we aren’t at the top but if the lessons of this game are really learned good things are very possible.