Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Euro 2012, Discipline Lessons and Farewell Arry, Farewell Orange?

June 14th, 2012 No comments

England played with refreshing discipline against France.  Our players kept focus and came away with a  deserved point.  It was particularly pleasing to see the midfielders protect the defence properly.  Steve Gerrard didn’t stray forward and Terry and Lescott were solid.  If we continue to defend with such composure the kerfuffle over Rio Ferdinand’s absence will soon be forgotten.  Our forward play caused France problems, but we lacked that extra bit of craft and confidence on the ball to sustain pressure.  When Rooney returns against Ukraine he will provide our attacking play a much needed extra dimension.  It is worth noting however that despite France dominating possession, it was England who created the clearest chance of the game.

While lacking the style and panache of the 98 and 2000 sides, France have improved greatly since 2010’s catastrophic World Cup campaign. On Monday we got a draw against Europe’s in form team.  When he was appointed we knew that Roy Hodgson would put emphasis on shape.  It’s pleasing to see positive results.

When the draw was made back in December it was surprising that much of the media seemed to regard England’s qualification for the quarter finals of Euro 2012 as a formality.  Every side you face in a tournament will cause you problems.  When England beat Sweden in a friendly in November it was the first time we had defeated them since 1968.  If anyone becomes complacent and believes a corner has been turned, bear in mind that England have never beaten Sweden in a competitive match.  Ukraine are the final opponents and facing the hosts always provides an extra challenge.  We have made an encouraging start to the campaign but the notion that England will easily reach the quarter final is naive.  Long way to go.

Elsewhere in the tournament the Dutch appear to be on their way home.  For all their skill and style they have failed to defend properly.  Germany‘s two goals were brilliantly created and taken but their opponents helped them along.  For his first goal Gomez found acres of space between the two German central defenders. Schweinsteiger’s ball was incisive  but why were Holland so generous? They still have a chance of reaching the quarter finals but need to defend as a unit.  The rumours of player unrest in the camp hardly inspires confidence.

‘Arry has left Spurs.  Who could have predicted that at Christmas?   Fabio Capello’s departure co-incided with Redknapp being found not guilty of tax evasion  and it seemed his stars were aligned to light the path to manage England.   Unfortunately for Arry the speculation about managing England led to a serious dip in Spurs form.   He was sacked over a contract dispute.  Despite what he said it’s hard to believe Champions league qualification wouldn’t have helped his cause.    Will he manage in the Premier League again?   He may fancy a lucrative contract overseas.

Hope not expectation

June 9th, 2010 No comments
Tis the time to dream. Every four years this recurring dream recurs. This familiar one when England become world champions. However, even being as optimistic as possible, the dream is motivated by hope as opposed to realistic expectation.

The quarter finals are by any historical measure a good performance for England and the problem is that some  people seem unable to get their heads around that. Our record since 66 isn’t great. In the last 44 years we have reached a World Cup semi a Euro semi and several World Cup quarter finals. In the same period Holland have reached two WC finals and a semi and won the European championship. Bulgaria have reached a WC semi. Sweden have got to a WC semi and a Euro semi. Poland have reached a WC semi and finished 3rd in 1974. Soviet Union reached two Euro Finals. Belgium have reached a Euro final and a WC semi. Turkey have reached a World Cup semi and a Euro semi.  And, of course, Greece were European champions. That’s only looking at the middle ranking sides from Europe. In 2008 and 2002 the Germans were considered to be poor yet still reached the final of those competitions.

So since 66* our record, when compared to other European football nations, gives new meaning to the word average. Yet people got annoyed because, for example, we’d never ‘win anything with Sven.’ Its unlikely we’ll win a competition whoever the manager is! We’d all love to but  actually expecting England to win a tournament is wishful thinking. There’s no great tradition to justify that sort of demand. In a tournament, if we get through the group we’ve fulfilled expectancy. Personally, I always look at getting through the group then take it from there. Usually as soon as we face a side with genuine aspirations to win the tournament we get knocked out.  1990  was great fun but, with all respect, Belgium and Cameroon weren’t contenders to lift the trophy.

Sven was also unpopular because he didn’t  stand on the touchline with contorted face and clenched fists and blood spurting from his ears, displaying the ‘passion’ we English crave. The Premier League is popular throughout the world because its often exciting and fast paced mixed with physical tussles. This does make for exciting blood and thunder games but doesn’t necessarily help players to develop their technique and tactical awareness. The British public love blood and thunder too.   What’s the thing always thrown at the  England set up? Passion. England lack ‘passion’. ‘Passion’ manifests itself by way of crashing tackles and sticking your bonce amongst the boots to win a header. These aren’t bad attributes but at World Cup level you need more than blood and thunder. England’s players are lacking because many have never had to consider a wider range to their game. Partly because of the nature of English football. 

I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t try to win tournaments I’m just saying that we should keep our hopes in perspective. But 44 years never stops me dreaming!!

*our record before 66 wasn’t great…Bela Horizonte anyone?