Wednesday, April 24, 2024

England win in Trinidad but will they win the race for the 2018 world cup?

You’ll have to forgive me today and allow me to write about England. Whilst the rest of Europe is looking forward to the wonderful forthcoming tournament in Switzerland and Austria, England played a ‘crucial’ friendly in Trinidad and Tobago.

Over the next few weeks England will rightly not get a mention in the media and I will be writing, along with everyone else, about the best Europe has to offer. So before I have to finally accept that England were terrible in the qualification and were deservedly knocked out by Croatia and Russia, allow me this one last article to cleanse my system and accept the depressing truth. Thank you!

So, an England team minus most of the Manchester United and Chelsea players, took to the field at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in the Port of Spain. I say field advisedly, because it could hardly be described as a pitch!

Fabio Capello picked the side with an eye to the future and made a young right sided midfielder, by the name of Beckham, captain of the side. This boy looks to be pretty good and with him in the side, I can’t see England failing to qualify for any future tournaments.

Also in the side were other promising youngsters such as David James, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Bridge, Steve Gerrard and Gareth Barry. A tall striker called Peter Crouch came on as a substitute. The Capello revolution continues and you can certainly see how these type of players would be good enough to qualify for any major tournament!

Of course, I am being facetious. There were also places in the side for Glenn Johnson, Jonathan Woodgate, Stewart Downing, Dean Ashton and Jermaine Defoe. From the bench we saw Joe Hart, Phil Jagielka, Steven Warnock, David Bentley, Theo Walcott and Ashley Young. All of these are bright young players and will benefit from earning an international cap.

The game, if it can be called that, ended 3-0 to England. First half goals from Gareth Barry and Jermaine Defoe, together with a second from Defoe after half-time gave England a very comfortable victory against a very poor Trinidad and Tobago side. The 3-0 scoreline does not reflect England’s dominance of the game and only some poor finishing kept the score from becoming embarrassing for the hosts who were celebrating their centenary.

This game was about many things but it was never about the football match. Jack Warner, number two to Blatter at FIFA, is an MP in Trinidad and Tobago. He will vote for the whole of the Concacaf region when the decision about the venue for World Cup 2018 will be made. This game and the visit to the country and, dare I say it, even the captaincy being given to David Beckham, were all geared towards trying to persuade Warner to vote for England.

Last year, when talking about the likely venue for 2018, Warner said, “It’ll be Italy, Spain, or it might even be France. Nobody in Europe likes England. England – who invented the sport – has never had any impact on world football. England at no time has had the love and support of Europe. For Europe, England is an irritant. There are moves to give it to England. I must fight that.”

Whether the total waste of time in footballing terms last night will have done enough to reverse the position Warner had taken remains to be seen.

In terms of the football, what will Capello have found out over the last few days? Sadly, he has discovered that David James is still by far the best choice in goal. Joe Hart is hugely talented but looked like a fish out of water when he came on. He discovered that David Beckham is still a better bet for the role on the right of midfield than David Bentley. John Terry and Rio Ferdinand is the best defensive partnership. Steven Gerrard and Gareth Barry play well together in midfield. Wayne Rooney is our best forward player and he is still nowhere near finding another striker to play alongside him.

It is all a bit depressing for an England supporter really. What Capello has discovered is that the same team that have performed so poorly and failed to qualify for this month’s tournament, is still pretty much the best side we can put onto the pitch.

Whether Capello can instill the necessary tactical awareness, ball retention and goal scoring threat that a top team needs, into this side, is a major doubt.

There is no doubt that England will be better under Capello than they were under Steve McClaren, but it is difficult to see how he will be able to mould this group of players into a team capable of challenging Europe’s elite.

OK, that’s it. Enough about England. Five days until the Euros begin. I promise I’ll try not to mention England again until after the tournament!


Graham Fisher



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