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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Denmark v England friendly - Farcical

Martin Tyler (on Sky Sports, at the end): "Well, England have been beaten by Denmark, in Denmark, for the first time, and it couldn't be more emphatic."

"Final score, Denmark 4 - England 1"

Richard Keys: "Which is not just's EMBARRASSING, in truth."

Goodness gracious me. Richard Keys said that with great emphasis that totally summed up the night for English football. TS predicted a win and his prediction was spot-on. What did I say in my article earlier on yesterday, about playing with commitment?

Commitment, style, determination, effort, passion, pride, focus, skill, deliverance, precision, strength, energy, rhythm...need I mention more? Not about England, about Denmark. Or alternatively, all of those adjectives contain something which the England national side should have in abundance when playing. It is quite simply not about been the one selected to put on an England jersey, shorts, socks, boots and play. It's about why you are there, you are chosen out of a vast number of football talent born or linked to this country to represent, and when you get there it is for pride and passion of the shirt. Shouldn't need reminding of that. I said the players should be and want to be playing with commitment to win, for the fans, if not themselves. The Danish players went off towards their fans to celebrate, as if they'd gone through to the next stage, as if they'd knocked out England. Not only in football terms, you could say in boxing terms too. I do not blame them. It showed how much this 'friendly' meant to them.

Tonight was the first time England were defeated by the Danes in Denmark, our worst defeat since the 4-1 defeat to Wales in Wrexham, 14th May 1980. I remember that match, with Larry Lloyd, I believe, Nottingham Forest player, scoring their fourth. England had no answer then, and they didn't in the 2nd half tonight. The proverbial game of two halves, they were 65% in the first, 35% in the second. I may be generous.

The first half was prospectively a usual England game in a friendly, some running here and there, the odd effort, some missed passes that went to no-one for us. One pass went astray and Rooney had to have a moan at whoever it was who passed it. That, to me, showed the lack of communication, which has to be the part of the course why the team didn't gel together as a solid unit. But the defence were capable and solid enough to thwart the Danes' efforts coming forward, I can only think of one effort that troubled Paul Robinson and that was Claus Jensen curling an effort which, frankly, Robinson made a deal of because he was not engaged enough. The main man for me was Thomas Gravesen, why Jon Dahl Tomasson was captain instead of the Real Madrid man is beyond me. He may have allowed some light to shine on Beckham in midfield but his game was more relaxed than that of the England captain, and he aimed to push and tug and pass and direct those around him often in the game.

When the second half arrived, John Terry and Gary Neville are substituted for Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson respectively, because of knocks. Knocks, which, it was said, were not serious enough to prevent those players from playing at the weekend. So surely they could have carried on, then?? I do beg the question. Robinson is exchanged for David James as well, with Jermaine Defoe off for Michael Owen. If Robinson is OK, why take him off? If Defoe had to come off, why not replace with Darren Bent? If Owen had to come on (and with Northern Ireland in mind, it seemed feasible to do so), he could have done so for whoever, later on.

The goals.

It took 15mins to concede the first. Beckham delivers a wasted ball into the Danish box from a freekick. Thomas Sorensen catches with ease with no one attacking the ball and you immediately have Rio Ferdinand, Jamie Carragher out of position. Frank Lampard on the edge of the Danish box. Sorenson immediately throws the ball towards a Danish player on the left, that player is stopped briefly by Glen Johnson's presence. Johnson should have closed that player down immediately to stall the attack. Gerrard has trotted and looked across to see Joe Cole and Beckham amongst the running Rommedahl and Tomasson. The ball is then superbly sent towards the running Tomasson, who is being chased by the only covering defender Ashley Cole. By this time, Rommedahl is sprinting up the middle, neither J Cole or Beckham track with him. A Cole has pace and, in my opinion, could have held up Tomasson until others arrived. But James comes running out, and not only has he come too far out but he is out of his area, so he cannot handle. He doesn't make the ball nor Tomasson, and the ball duly goes through his legs. Tomasson goes on to hit the ball, only to be denied by Cole's efforts, but the ball spills on where Tomasson passes across goal low. James makes the worse attempt to get back to goal quickly, either he cannot sprint or that is how he sprints, where Dennis Rommedahl is present to tap in.

James will be solely blamed for this goal, but some who should share it are David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, J Cole for not tracking the runs of Rommedahl and Tomasson, and Rio Ferdinand and Jamie Carragher for sprinting back to position to help immediately after the ball was caught by Sorensen.

For the second goal, Gerrard is again questionable, and he isn't the only one. Claus Jensen is on the ball, Gerrard watches him then stays away, giving Jensen time to pass to a Danish player being marked by G Johnson. Gerrard has now slowed to a trot, not watching Jensen, Lampard is in acres of space and has no urgency to get into the box to help thwart any crosses or dangers there, Jensen goes on to pick up the return pass and sprint down the wing. G Johnson sees the danger and tries to cut off Jensen, to no avail. Jensen then spots Tomasson and aims to cross low towards him, A Cole relies on his left foot mainly and flicks the ball away, only to the head of Rommedahl, the ball coming back to goal where Tomasson scores. Comical defending from one of the sides touted to win the World Cup in 2006.

The third is from a corner. Carragher is marking Michael Gravgaard, but as the ball comes in, Gerrard has come to deal with it, getting in the way of Carragher, leaving Gravgaard free to head down and in over J Cole on the post.

Eventually Beckham ceases to be in the unorthordox sweeping role in front of defence and is found on the right, and as he runs Rooney is indicating for the pass. A Danish defender stretches out a foot but could not intervene enough, Rooney latches on to the ball and coolly dispatches to score. Yet even then, England could not keep or get into shape. As the Danes build up from within their half, the ball comes to the middle where Peres plays a through ball. A Cole seems to have stepped up to play offside on Laursen but Ferdinand has played him on. Laursen runs on, Ferdinand reaches him but it is too late, the ball is poked (and I mean poked) lightly past James.

What was missing?

Communication. That's one adjective I missed out above. Add to that any or all the rest above. When Beckham played in the freekick that preceded the first goal, no one attacked it. Gerrard, Ferdinand to name two six foot players and no one attacked it. On the subsequent attack, focus and awareness was equally absent. Urgency, no one sprinting back as A Cole tried to stop things himself. Sensibleness, from James, what was he thinking when he came out? He must have endured some 'mild criticism' from the England fans behind him. In a nutshell, we didn't come out the second half to play, there was little energy to do so. It was like a capitulation. The forwards were not engaged enough, the type of passes they thrive on was non-existent, J Cole and Beckham were employed on the wings but I cannot count the amount of crosses they delivered. Again, why was Beckham as far as the central defence collecting the ball?? At times we employed the central defence with so many passes around, the front two must have got frustrated in waiting.

As for the subs, G Johnson does not have the right temperament for England, it would have been better to have had Phil Neville. David James has made yet another calamity that hails for his selection to be denied for eternity. Carragher covered himself well enough. Owen looked slightly promising but then fizzled out to nothing, but he and Rooney had nothing provided to them on a regular basis. Lampard came off for Owen Hargreaves, the latter I feel is not good enough, certainly not for Lampard's position. Jermaine Jenas came on for Gerrard, had little of pre-season to play through injury, played 32mins before being sent off at the weekend and so did not finish the game and yet he was deemed ready for England.

Anyone who saw Sky Sports with Jamie Redknapp and Ray Wilkins would know they both hardly said a wrong word about the performance. Redknapp said this maybe the kick England needed to wake up before the qualifiers. If those players want to know commitment, look at the game and watch Rooney. He was tugged in the box, got nothing; he was on-side but goal cancelled when he simply outmuscled his marker; he was impeded, got nothing AND then had enough and ran after the Danish player, dispossessed him and played the ball AND then went on to run up the field. Playing with someone like that in the team, how can you fail to show that kind of drive and commitment??

The team is like a piece of matter, with atoms inside. The atoms have to coincide together to keep shape, otherwise if the atoms begin to go their own preferred directions, the matter goes out of shape or even disintegrates. Perhaps there is little competition, at national level, for the places to frighten the seniors. Make mistakes like that at club level and find yourself being rollicked by your manager, or dropped. Jose Mourinho made that clear to Chelsea at half-time. Start playing or you're coming off and a good number of players will be dropped. Under Eriksson, make a mistake and he'll get animated, at best, when he should be on that touchline giving messages to his players to situate them on the pitch, to win. He hasn't the fire to blast these woeful lot when they deserve it, and to drop a new names too. Until then, we will probably just about drift into the World Cup. That is if we feel like we want to win it.




Blogger Skippy said...

I think international friendly matches are a waste of time.

8/18/2005 10:32 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make a good point about dropping players, players like gerard, lampard, ferdinand etc know that even if they play like they did last night they won't be dropped, erickson needs to drop a few of them in the next qualifier and bring back some importance to friendly games. The denmark players showed how important it is to them to represent their country, shame some of Englands stars couldn't do the same.

8/18/2005 11:52 am

Blogger T said...

I disagree with the Skipper. International matches are important for improving the teamwork of international teams.

Unfortunately for England fans, the England manager- as written yesterday by Redsman and myself- does not use these 'friendly' internationals to improve his team. He too seems to view these matches as a waste of time.

Hence Australia, Spain, and the latest travesty of a performance against Denmark. I did predict it yesterday on EFT- but not even I thought it was going to be as bad as that.

Redsman, I can't agree more with your piece. We spoke about the match last night and both agreed there are so many areas that Sven is getting it really wrong.

It's quite a joke that he is paid £4m per year for such incompetence.

8/18/2005 1:19 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I haven't even, at this time of the day, looked at the headlines on the back, or front as it could be. Something near to a disaster. how could you use a friendly as an excuse not to want to win or show any commitment to win? As for the importance of the friendlies, if they aid in selecting the 11 players to play in the serious games, good. But if Defoe isnt given more than one half, how can you assess him on one half? Rooney is a certainty for Wales and N Ireland, Owen is a certainty for N Ireland, let's see Bent and Defoe further.

We had James and Robert Green, if need be, but otherwise leave Robinson in goal. But it wasn't the subs, it was the lack of commitment and energy, the will to fight, that England lost in the second half. Otherwise we looked to be the one to score first, from our first-half display. It could be that those who were left on in the second half didn't prefer the subs so early, and then couldn't get into the game.

We know they were bad, we want to know why. We know they didn't play, we want to know why. Eriksson is angry, Beckham is disappointed, Lampard is disappointed, the whole side are disappointed, so are we. But why did it happen?? Beckham said it isnnt motivation, so what was it?? Because there would be 11 fans who would love to go out there and give it more pride and passion, at least they would show that they tried. And I sense the players know why they were poor but do not want to face it.

Let's face it, who is there to replace Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Ferdinand, Owen if someone like Mourinho praises them as the best we have? Perhaps it is the coach, he could be too uninspiring, it must be. We need a coach who will give it the hairdryer when the team need it, praise them when merited and drop those who do not keep up the grade. Someone who isnt afraid to lose popularity, because I'm sure he wouldn't were he to put his foot down. Anyone who wouldn't take to him would have to be a player who doesn't want to put in the effort. And if he doesn't, replace him with someone who will.

Last night was an off day, so off it smelt like it looked.


8/18/2005 6:39 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

To add to TS's comment above, this is the same coach that was praised for the win in Germany of 5-1, the win over Argentina in the World Cup? For getting us to the World Cup in the first place? Yet, he is the same one who was found secretly meeting with Chelsea officials and Abramovich, with the alleged intention of leaving England to take over at Stamford Bridge?? Yes, I can see how the players can grasp the kind of commitment needed to win from someone who appeared to desire leaving the national squad in the first place.


8/18/2005 6:46 pm

Blogger SKG said...

I can understand that everyone is upset about last night's game but at the end of the day all that matters is how we perform in competitive games, and quite frankly the answer to that is pretty damn good. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of Sven or his tactics but I'm confident we'll see a totally committed England performance against Wales. If we don't, then that is the time when serious questions about the manager and players need to be asked. I've said it before and will say it again, we are so suited for a 3-5-2 formation it's unreal. It's amazing that only Glen Hoddle could see it.

8/18/2005 8:20 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

With a 3-5-2 formation, who would be employed at the back? G Neville, A Cole, Terry and Ferdinand will always start. I feel that with G Neville, Terry and A Cole in the 3, Ferdinand could drop down to sweep behind the midfield, he has moments where he is confident in bringing the ball forward from central defence, why not handle the sweeping role?
That would leave the 4 in midfield of the usual suspects, Beckham is to remain on his wing, he and J cole are to be implored to cross as often as they can in the 45mins. High balls dropping within Ferdinand's sweeping position will be better dealt with by his head at 6ft 5in. Lampard and Gerrard like to get forward, they can do so with Ferdinand sweeping. It is a shambles that the midfield we have failed to produce any pass at all for our forwards of worthy note.


8/18/2005 10:50 pm

Anonymous Abdul said...

I agree with all the sentiments expressed in this article and the comments which have followed. England under Eriksson lack passion, inspiration and drive - which is why I believe England will never win an international tournament under him.

I'm with SKG on 5-3-2. This is how I would line them up:

Robinson (GK) - G Neville, Ferdinand, Terry (central defenders) - Ashley Cole, Wright-Phillips (wingbacks), Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham (central midfielders), Owen and Rooney (strikers).

8/19/2005 9:00 am

Blogger T said...

Abdul, your team looks good on paper but I think it will get pulled apart at international level.

What England must get is a holding midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 formation- with Rooney as the sole front man.

My tip to fulfil this key role- if he gets an injury free run- is Scott Parker. I rated him highly at Charlton, and can't understand why Mourinho pushed him out in preference to Jarosik.

I see him as a Makalele-type player with fine technique, who can win the ball and free Lampard and Gerrard to support Rooney. So there you have it Sven- pick Parker for England.

Redsman, I too also wonder why the selection of Jenas and Hargreaves??

8/19/2005 5:24 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Yes, TS, questionable at the least.

For me, the formation of 3-1-4-2 or perhaps 3-5-2 seems good. I'm an old fashioned 4-4-2 because I feel a team needs two strikers to help each other and the attention is halved as opposed to being fully on a lone striker. One up front wouldn't be, for me, so bad if you have Rooney up front and wingers who will run and cross or pass through all game. Owen on his own is not favourable. Rooney has more youth on this side, more body mass, more aggression.


8/20/2005 2:04 pm


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