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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Holland v England - tonight - 19.00hrs - Amsterdam Arena

It's a friendly and as such the media attention where the British are concerned (or, depending on your opinion, predominately the south of England media) is on Steve McClaren's approach to the game. Friendly in terms of no significance in the result, gaining points or going through, simply meet up and play. The friendliness stops when the teams come out, though certain players may focus on keeping fit for their domestic sides and play with less emphasis. A number of absentees from the England squad, and I do question the necessity of today's game sandwiched between the domestic weekends as it is not a qualifier.

The Dutch squad has been reduced with Edwin van der Sar's absence, who opted to be rested, Robin Van Persie expecting his first child (I understand Chris Kirkland is absent for the same reason, congratulations and good luck to them both), Joris Mathijsen suffered a whack on the nose and had to have it re-set, Wesley Sneijder and Giovanni van Bronckhorst are injured. But Clarence Seedorf comes in after learning he is just cover and has to really impress to earn a regular call-up. That is ironic, for Ruud Van Nistelrooy is not picked after scoring six goals in the two recent Real matches of the Copa del Rey and La Liga.

England are without Jermaine Jenas, Ledley King, Aaron Lennon, Darren Bent, Kirkland, Scott Parker, Gary Neville and Stewart Downing with Micah Richards coming in but no call for Luke Young. It seems from the Dutch squad and likely line-up this is a suitable, if not inconvenient, moment to test some fresh blood. I would like to know who you would choose and what formation:

Ben Foster

Micah Richards, Jamie Carragher, Matt Dawson, Wayne Bridge

Phil Neville

Shaun Wright-Phillips, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole

Andrew Johnson, Jermaine Defoe

I saw Foster in action during Watford's play-off matches with Crystal Palace and then Leeds and was impressed and he has good potential so I would have him start. Richards is young, determined and comes forward well and Bridge is known for his good attacking runs so the full-backs offer good options. Both Carragher and Dawson are struggling defensively and I think the two of them rather than having a figurehead in either Terry or Ferdinand alongside them is throwing them in at the deep end somewhat but I want to see them both rising up. Phil Neville is versatile and of late since joining Everton has given him the captaincy and first-team action, so I think he has matured well. That gives Carrick the opportuity to surge forward and provide the passes for the forwards I expect they will be eager to gobble up and he can shoot from distance.

McClaren has hailed SWP but for his lack of first-time appearances and I want to give him a start and Cole has returned to fitness and I think would relish a start to get his international career back up and running. Lastly, the forwards. McClaren has opted for Wayne Rooney and Johnson, both determined, pacey, and will shoot from all angles with usual accuracy of 75-80% on goal. Yet given his exploits for club recently, I would be inclined to opt for Defoe, who is equally determined, pacey and likes to shoot from anywhere. He came on on Sunday and got into two good positions and if we can supply him those through balls, particularly from Carrick, it would be standard to his expectations. The possible exception is the height of the two forwards, and to that I say look on how Owen never hesitated to jump up and head.



Blogger T said...

Thanks Redsman...

Just seen the England match and the plus point to emerge is the composed performance of debutant Micah Richards. Me and Redsman are in full agreement that the 18 year old Man City defender is the real deal: a player to bank on going to the top of the game.

There was no doubt in my mind that he would play the game with composure and concentration without letting anyone down... and this is what he went on to do. Well done Micah Richards!

11/15/2006 10:25 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now we could all see how terribly bad Paul Robinson is. Time to perhaps bring in David James or Scott Carson I guess.

And I hope we could get Micah Richards to cover for Steve Finnan! Wishful thinking of course.

11/16/2006 8:55 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thanks T and Drogballs. I wasn't even going to pass comment on last night's match. England were not pressed because the Dutch were basically poor. Only Robben had offered excitement and enthusiasm for the Dutch and Richards had done well to quell his progress on the left, albeit a shot and a cross or two got through. Otherwise it was a good debut for the full-back.

The commentary of BBC's Steve Wilson and Mark Lawrenson had to get over-excited over Rooney's goal, calling it an inspirational excellent touch when in fact Rooney had turned away from the ball and stuck out a limb in hope of directing it in. The ball from Joe Cole was superb enough for any form of contact to put it in the net. Gerrard should have scored when one-on-one in the first half and the last chance in stoppage time in the second when he broke into the box. Rooney should have blasted the keeper through the net with the ball in the first half when he was alone with the ball coming on for him in the penalty box.

As for Holland's goal, the moment I saw Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink come on, I felt he would be a nuisance as he has been inspirational for Celtic recently. The throw came over, JVH headed it on despite two defenders in front and behind him, the ball was not dealt with despite our six-foot plus central defence and it came down for Rafael van der Vaart to slice in. Disappointing.

The central defence were said to have looked towards Robinson as to why he had not come to claim the second ball, and soon afterwards when a cross came over Robinson came out to claim it. Only afterwards did we press on, we suddenly had been hurt enough to want to win the game and we almost did. The Dutch themselves came forward after the equaliser, practically the last minutes of normal time.

Well, we have some homework ahead of us with Russia and Croatia moving above and we have to face both so we can still qualify. But if at least England were to show more enthusiasm and attack the opposition with more gusto, I'd be happier. It is alright getting a result but you need to set the foundation to carry into every match and enhance on it. That is what makes teams successful.

And as for Andy Johnson, he just got so little of the position and space to perform as he does for Everton, I agreed with Alan Shearer. He went middle, he almost got played in by Ashley Cole. Gerrard went middle, he almost scored a winner near normal time. It's a sign for these players to play in central positions and tinker somewhere else if need be.


11/16/2006 4:46 pm

Blogger T said...

Excellent analysis Redsman- worthy of an article in itself!

11/16/2006 10:53 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

I second that T - thanks also to Drogballs...I think the reports elsewhere are saying how poor Robinson is with crosses...he came out..then decided not to...and lo and behold...goal to the opposition.

Is goalkeeping also a classic position where England needs a "fortress" mentality? The days of Seaman is long gone (and even then he is best remembered for Ronaldinho catching him off his line in the World Cup)...can Carson or David James do any better?

11/17/2006 1:58 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

You know, there is one point in Robinson coming to catch the second ball, or indeed deal with it. There is another that the 6ft central defenders should have cleared it themselves, for if there is no shout, no Robinson coming out, then they deal with it, though Robinson comig to claim it not only ceases the danger but controls the action full stop.

The thing is, additional to the post-match analysis, the number of pundits and former players saying England were the better team. We were better because Holland were poor and we did not capitalise on their form to carve a second goal, only in the dying stages of full time. The only inspiration from this is seeing a better Gerrard and Johnson during the brief moments either player got central, and the debut of Richards, particularly with a testing winger in Robben.


11/17/2006 10:24 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

McClaren is ordinary. Any fool can see that. Why not the FA? England will be ordinary too while he's in charge.

11/19/2006 12:49 pm


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