The Groundsman’s Shed

In case you were in any doubt as to why England aren’t in Euro2008… by groundsman

…please see a replay of the second half of today’s friendly against France. 

It was supposed to be meaningless, but the saddest thing is that for the first half, before a massively unfortunate error by David James, the England team had a bright, if not desperate start, signifying that to these boys who have an empty summer stretching before them– this means quite a lot.  So eager were the lads to please the coach, the fans, themselves- they were all running out of their shirts.  It was sloppy, nervy play expected of guys who aren’t practising with eachother regularly, but it was a sight better than the mess that followed.

I don’t blame Capello– we all knew there were fundamental problems with the national team’s play.  I just wonder how he’s going to be able to teach these guys how to pass cleanly and quickly, tighten up their play, and react with their heads and not just their bodies.  Owen Hargreaves had a nice match, but then- his aggressive tactics usually make him shine in international play for some reason.   As for the captain situation, the Rappin’ Rhymin’ Cap’n and his immediate predecessor had a very rocky start, with Rio Ferdinand giving some very good opportunities up front for Les Bleus, while John Terry played an unfortunate part in the moments leading up to Anelka colliding with James, and after Franck Ribery‘s goal(and then the yellow card for a tribute to his deceased friend), he was fairly quiet  for the rest of his time on the field, leaving at half time with a sore thigh.  

I’m not entirely sure about David Beckham’s performance.  It wasn’t shambolic by any means, and he didn’t appear to injure himself, so those are two pluses.  As for his ability to still contribute to the team- he was never a fast boy, and his pace has tapered off even more- but while he was on the pitch, the plays did work through him very well- there was just incredibly poor finishing.  Rooney and Gerrard were taken off the pitch at halftime, perhaps fatigued from Sunday’s hard work for their clubs, and also– they were simply useless for the first 45 minutes.  However, the substitution of Owen and Crouch was like a child being promised a pony for her birthday only to recieve a mechanical bull. 

Overall, the team WAS different than they have in past years, they held posession a bit longer than usual and seemed intent upon trying to pass more often, rather than the ol’ “Hoof it up to the man up front” technique, which they lapsed onto whenever they seemed worried.  Which was often.  It was nice to see them trying something “different”, and it’s never good to see them lose.

On the bright side, my home country’s team won 3-0.  USA! USA! USA!  I was watching the above tosh live, purely because I wanted to see what Rio would be like with any sort of responsibility for anything held over his head.   I’ll see the US match a bit later, but I’ll just say this– if England play against Team USA like they did today, I’ll be dumping tea into the river Thames whilst wearing a tri-corner hat and screaming things about how much I love our Founding Fathers after the match. 

Going to London for the match on May 28th?  Let me know! 

[Photo: AP/Michel Euler]