So England beat Norway and then England beat the Rest of the World (and disease?), a feat that sounds lovely on paper.
A quality goal from the immortal Kevin Phillips, suspect handball by Ted Sheringham, and neat finish by Robbie William’s friend was enough to overturn the first half worldy from Kasabian’s guitarist Serge Pizzorno (the guy who also did this)
The game saw plenty of wacky combinations; Paddy McGuinness shutting out Gerard Butler, Will Ferrell laying off to Mike Myers, a King Kenny team talk to Roy Keane, and a host of painful and ridiculous commentary by Clive Tyldesley (That wasn’t a Club Foot… anybody?)
Whilst watching the game I had a brainwave, one that would revitalise spectator interest in the F.A Cup.
Team F.A Cup United would be structured in a 4-4-2 diamond with van der Sar in goal, Le Saux left back, Stam and Des Walker in the centre, Keane enforcing the midfield with Ljungberg and Seedorf wide, Hernan Crespo playing just behind Phillips and Teddy. All that’s needed is a right back – Gary Neville seems to be able to do every job in football – and you have a brilliantly entertaining team, the cup fixtures giving them enough time to recover between games. Come on, you’d pay to see your team play that.
It was interesting to put yourself into the New Look shoes of some annoying x-factor idol boy (I don’t know who Olly Murs is but I enjoyed Stam’s tackle on him) and imagine just how much better the ex-pros are than you. Any level of league football is linked to a fair degree of talent, the real talent peak coming at international level…
… or so they say. ‘Talent’ isn’t the first word your tongue would reach for when describing the Three Lion’s win over the Norse (seriously Will Ferrell was better in possession than Barry), ‘disciplined’ or ‘clinical’ perhaps but nothing a frivolous as ‘talent’.
Hodgson’s first game wasn’t a thriller but it wasn’t a loss, and it gave us some insight into what we can feast on during the Euros. Gone was Capello’s 4-3-3, replaced with a fashionable European 4-2-3-1, a formation I said would never work with England. Well Roy, you have learned me some on that one.
There is little to discuss on the goalie and back four as most of them were just stand-ins, although maybe now would be the best to time to stop getting John Terry to hold our hand in tournaments and leave him behind, replacing him with the deserving Phil Jagielka.
No one enjoys seeing captain Gerrard that deep but at least he’s in the centre now, with Parker giving him a good license to move forwards, the Spurs player not exactly the man to link the back and front though.
Out wide was a bit baffling, seeing the madly under performing Stuart Downing under perform opposite James Milner. Milner for me is a utility sub, capable of doing a good job in the centre or on the wing, in attack or in defence without thrilling in any position. But we’ll keep our trousers done up for now because it seemed fairly clear that Hodgson was trying all wide options.
The real gem came in Andy Carroll as target man and Ashley ‘Banana Skin’ Young in the hole behind him. Who would have though two months ago that Carroll would be in the England squad let alone as a starter? But you don’t hear anyone disagreeing with it though do you? Just goes to show what an impact the press can have on player perceptions.
Anyway, the big man looked more than up for receiving the ball and, with Young constantly ready to run off him, the plan to cover Rooney’s absence looked a good one. It bared its fruit early, and with a little help from a bursting Gerrard run, England had the decisive goal. Unfortunately as the game progressed England got a touch of the Liverpools about them and seemed to forget that Carroll was still playing, but rotating door, players resting blahblahblah leave Roy alone!
On the plus side it looks like Barry might be out, on the downside Phil Jones will probably end up being shoehorned into centre-mid cover with the under-prepared Jordan Henderson, all the while Michael Carrick looks on and sighs ‘philistines’ under his breath.