Based in London and writing for a global audience our aim is to produce EliteFootballTalk. Enjoy the site and feel welcome to join in our discussion on the beautiful game.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Denmark v England friendly

Prior to the World Cup qualifiers with Wales and Northern Ireland, the national squad find themselves with another friendly. With foresight of those matches, Michael Owen joins the squad but will not play as he is suspended for the Wales qualifier. Jermaine Defoe steps in to partner Wayne Rooney and there is some surprise, I don't know why. The original choices upfront were of Rooney, Defoe, Andy Johnson and Owen. In Owen's absence, Defoe is the next choice to replace him, on his form from last season.

Then there is the fuss the FA chief executive Brian Barwick had made over Man Utd's Alan Smith opting to play for the Utd reserves than join with the England squad. Barwick criticised Smith and hinted that such a 'snub' could mean the end of his international career.

"He must need the football. Sven will have plenty of opportunity to either pick Alan Smith again, or not. My view is that Alan Smith was given an opportunity to play for England and has chosen to play elsewhere and it's probably not the cleverest thing he's done. I never got the opportunity to play for England, so turning it down is disappointing, perhaps."

Then it transpires that Utd had spoken to Sven Goran Eriksson, and both parties agreed Smith would be better off with 90mins of football than 90mins on the bench. Only thing is the FA chief executive wasn't aware, hence his comments. Should he have known? Probably not. Should he, since he had an opinion that he felt warranted public attention, have spoken to Eriksson before making comment? Definitely. It wasn't "the cleverest thing" Barwick had done.

Which brings me to Owen's selection again. Had Smith joined with the squad, who wouldn't have? Defoe, Rooney, Owen or Johnson? Defoe and Rooney are in top flight. Owen is in the top flight in Spain but isn't getting first-team selection. Johnson is in the Championship. Practically identical to Real Madrid, where captain Raul is the 'darling' of the club, and dropping one of the world's best talents in Ronaldo would be an unpopular move, Eriksson will not do without Owen. So, does that then mean Johnson would not have been chosen, contrary to Eriksson's statement previously that Johnson's presence in the lower division will not hamper his chances for selection? Most would select Owen over Johnson. I would have them both and omit Smith instead. He came off the bench on Saturday for Paul Scholes and Sir Alex hinted on turning him into a replacement for Roy Keane in central midfield. That makes Smith more of a makeshift striker.

As for the friendly, I'm looking for a high spirited performance and a win. That is what I expect from all the friendlies. I listened to discussion of the England team in general on the radio, and opinion was divided mostly on the side that Eriksson has wasted the team with poor selections at crucial times, wrong formations and was suspected of not having enough influence to push the team to win. The choice of keeping David Seaman in goal against Brazil in the World Cup QF with a bad back was mentioned as one bad decision.

When you have players like Rooney and Defoe with pace and skill and prepared to shoot from anywhere, prepared to fight to hold possession and can play in others, that talent must be used to it's limits. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard can command the midfield together, Gerrard, David Beckham and Joe Cole can and will run with pace, then there is a back four that can consist of two out of Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell and John Terry, playing for the top three teams in the country. You have attacking, usually reliable full-backs in Gary Neville and Ashley Cole, and a good keeper in Paul Robinson, with Chris Kirkland turning in a good performance at the weekend.

We simply do have the talents within the squad to beat teams. This match shouldn't be treated as a runabout, it should be treated as a catalyst for adopting a winning 'formula', for want of a better word. Too often the England side look to lethargic to seem to care about winning. Chances going astray too easily, passes are too inaccurate too often, and often the defending is the key third of the team that surpasses the other two, when in fact our midfield and forward lines are among the most energetic in Europe. We like seeing our national players play, and play well. And like with any team, if you at least play well, then the result can be meaningless in comparison. Otherwise, without that kind of drive and spirit to play, let alone win, then the crowds and enthusiasm for friendlies will dwindle.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


8/17/2005 11:50 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

That's it. I said 'formula' but 'mentality' is a better word for it, the competitive edge that succeeds. Too often we have played a lower than usual game where we draw when we should win. We should have beaten Brazil, I don't doubt that at all, but for something that affected our play, namely Ronaldinho running through. Bench players should look at it that they have to impress continuingly until they get their chance. Joe Cole now has that chance, and there's been a change in him that warrant his first-team call.


8/17/2005 12:19 pm

Blogger T said...

There are many problems with Sven. But relevant to this discussion is that he does not appear an inspiational character.

I have never once been enlightened by his comments on football. And when it comes to friendlies he appears to demand little of his players.

Why doesn't Sven demand excellence from his players every match, as Redsman suggests? The game in Madrid last year was an embarrassment for English football- luckily for Sven the performance was oversahdowed by the racist chants of the Spansih supporters.

Sven's record in friendlies is terrible. I recall Denmark beating England at Old Trafford in a recent friendly. I make Denmark favourites to win again tonight- they are a country that takes pride in international matches.

8/17/2005 12:46 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i liked the comment about sven being too loyal to players that is so true especially in cases such as owen and oh my god the so over over over rated captain mr beckham.

8/17/2005 1:28 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for Defoe. No matter how many goals he scores or how well he plays, he will always play second fiddle to Owen.
Its a bit like Lineker and Ian Wright.

Players like Owen and Beckham dont seem to have the hunger anymore.
They need to be dropped if they are not match fit or off form and under Erickson thats not going to happen.

8/17/2005 3:50 pm

Blogger SKG said...

I've just finished watching the Demnark v England game and all I will say is that TS must have had a vision of night's result when he posted his comment because it is spot on!

Only one way to make up for this result - beat Wales.

8/17/2005 9:18 pm


Post a Comment

<< Home


Locations of visitors to this page