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, September 12, 2007

2 hours from realisation

Amidst the rumours that Roman Abramovich has given an incentive to the Russian players of £40,000 on completion of a victory tonight, the England squad all reported for training to give a better boost of confidence to Steve McLaren. Owen Hargreaves and Frank Lampard out, McLaren looks set to unveil the same players who featured in Saturday's win against Israel. But Israel is totally different to Russia. While the Israelis felt prepared to sit and defend England out, with England responding in kind by a relax biuld-up with more time and space on the ball as a result, the Russians I expect will look to fly at England from the start. Something which I want to see England do to the Russians instead, otherwise we will seek to soak up the Russians' pressure and aim to hit them on the counter which limits our approach on their goal.

Nothing wrong with Emile Heskey alongside Michael Owen, felt he provided exactly the kind of response and problems for Israel we wanted from him, which drowned the doubts about his selection. Steven Gerrard and Gareth Barry know each other from the Euro2000 days and they linked up comfortably on Saturday BUT I expect they both will be busier tonight. They have a good understanding of one up, one holding back and Barry adds a different scheme of things from central midfield. The player of the moment is not Owen, contrary to the press who by-passed the efforts of Shaun Wright-Phillips. SWP twisted and drapped up the Israeli left back and will have to be more vigilant with the Russian player marking him, meaning I want for him to add crosses earlier and with good accuracy, something both Owen and Heskey simply thrive on.

I think we can win, but it's not so much the victory but the method of gaining it. Three points is three points regardless but if we are to enter into qualification, we should do so with a good amount of pedigree. Some may say we cannot achieve that without Lampard and/or Hargreaves but I say we can and we can show as much tonight. The Russians have drawn their two matches with Croatia and we should not have lost in Zagreb considering what happened. A win tonight also means we are capable of dealing with the Croatians properly and therefore set ourselves well for qualification. Eight o'clock tonight awaits.

Speaking of England, a mention has to go to the England Women's team who kicked off their World Cup campaign yesterday afternoon against Japan. Kelly Smith pulled England back level after Japan's no.16 Aya Mimaya scored a superb freekick from some 20-25 yards, almost similar to Christiano Ronaldo's in the friendly with a Europe XI. Smith was on hand again to put the English into the lead with some 10 minutes remaining, only for England to concede a freekick practically around the same spot as before. Considering England's fortunes, I pondered whether Mimaya would do it again and lo behold she did, this time bending the ball to the keeper's right.



Blogger T said...

Good stuff as ever, Redsman!

Missed the Russia match but saw the Israel match last Saturday.

And what was great is that for the first time in about five years I enjoyed watching England because they were playing 'team' football. They weren't playing like strangers but played as a whole unit. It was great to see against Israel and from I saw of the highlights against Russia the Israel show was not a one-off!

Key for me, as has been said by many since these matches, has been the inclusion of Barry alongside Gerrard in midfield. For me Barry is a left-footed Lampard: they have the same build, same quality of pass and set-piece delivery, and same quality of shot.

But the difference between Barry and Lampard is that Barry is better defensively than Lampard and - perhaps because of this - is more of a natural partner to Gerrard who is a natural attacking midfielder than Lampard who similarly is more inclined to attack.

Gerrard's words before the Russia match of being great friends with Barry and how this helps on the pitch for me also indicates he feels much more comfortable playing his game with Barry than Lampard.

For me Gerrard/Barry must now be first choice... I wrote a couple of years ago an article on EFT saying the balance of Gerrard/Lampard didn't work for England and now that we've seen what England can be like with a proper partnership in CM there is no way McClaren should go back to a failed combination.

Finally, I want to say congrats to McClaren for these last two results. He has received a lot of criticism and some unacceptable abuse since getting the job and I'm glad he has proven a few people wrong as well as being able to generate a good feel-good factor amongst England supporters.

9/14/2007 7:50 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

It appears to have flowed quite well. For reasons unknown Hiddink held onto my main threat of Aleksandr Kerzhakov until 10mins from time, employing five across the middle but England had a better aura of them that meant keeping possession and not wasting it. Also key was the connection of finding Heskey to link up with Owen, whose presence and control made the Wigan man the centre of attention, allowing Owen to be free. First Terry took two defenders with him for Owen's first then Heskey knocked on superbly a high ball for Owen to score his and England's second.

The performance deserved a third England goal and simply adds more confidence of what England can actually achieve once they approach differently and learn to move more freely, which has to be the case when you have Ferdinand upfront for no.3.

As for Barry and Gerrard, still felt Gerrard was not 100% out there but impressively Barry hardly put a foot wrong and showed how well he reads and moves off the ball on occasion. I'd say Barry is of a slimmer build to Lampard and out of Lampard and Gerrard it is Gerrard who is more defensive, but out of Gerrard & Barry I hardly noticed that one stood back while the other went forward. It's looking well but watch and see in October who is chosen for the next qualifier.

There were moments of Russian pressure where their touch, control, passing and movement was causing major concerns and I felt Konstantin Zhyrianov was harshly judged to have handled the ball which actually came off his chest, England were lucky and I would have liked to have seen their response at 1-1. That would be a good test for the current XI. And Heskey is right when he says he deserves his England place again. Provided he remains in good form.


9/14/2007 8:28 pm


Post a Comment

<< Home


Locations of visitors to this page