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Saturday, November 17, 2007

England not hampered by Owen injury and a lesson for Walcott

First things first, Walcott. The England U21s' played Bulgaria last night from their group for the Euro2009 tournament. The Bulgarians could have been three up by half-time but England took the lead with James Milner crossing from the left for Gabriel Agbonlahor glancing another header past the keeper following on from his match-winning touch on Sunday. Theo Walcott took the ball on 80mins and ran at the Bulgarian defence, almost being tripped in the box and then going down after the keeper's challenge. Penalty was given and then Walcott went and retrieved the ball, with Milner straight away reminding him that coach Stuart Pearce had allocated Milner as the spot-kick taker. Walcott was not to be denied and went on to place the ball on the spot to take the kick. Milner waited and then intervened again, and then orders were passed from PEarce towards Walcott for Milner to take the kick. Walcott walked away and then shouted 'F*** You', towards the England bench.

Pearce was then seen to turn away and walk back to the bench, with a little nod as if to say 'You see that?' Milner stepped up to just glance the ball past the keeper's stetched out right-hand. Walcott then jogged over with others to congratulate Milner. So much is spoken of Walcott, where I wonder if he would have been spoken of if he had joined another Premier League club. His attitude then was not expected nor was it warranted, for he considered his own desires ahead of that for his team. Pearce conveyed the orders and for Walcott to suddenly go against them seemed uncharacteristic. Given that David Bentley was booed yesterday when he came on, does Walcott's attitude need to be called into question? It certaily did not look good on live TV.

Now, many seem to have been saying it was pointless to have an international friendly yesterday. I don't see why not, where some nations are due to play on Saturday and Wednesday, we have an extra match of our own. I was surprised that despite Paul Robinson being replaced by Scott Carson, that there were not other changes considering it was a friendly. So with Michael Owen pulling up with a thigh injury that rules him out of the Croatia match, you can imagine Newcastle United fans and management being quite fuming. At this rate, as much as Owen loves to play for England, Sam Allardyce will include another clause in any extension to forbid Owen from international matches!

Peter Crouch played well enough yesterday in a atch that had as much enthusiasm from Austria as there was from England, particularly in the first half. The second half was no better. I felt Carson came over confident, alert, and unfazed. Frank Lampard had something of a better match, Steven Gerrard hardly put a foot wrong though knowing that he relished the armband, his zing and zip was still restricted. Our defence came under good pressure to keep them lively but David Beckham's contributions left us wanting. His first two corners were not of the renowned quality but he did provide other crosses which were defended out. Jermaine Defoe came on for Owen, another player who has been bursting at the vessels to play and given the chance hasn't light up the pitch as we would expect.

Come the Croatia game, Crouch and Defoe would appear to be the first choice. We are not hampered by Owen's absence, we can deal with it, he is not the only player who can score for us, Gerrard, Lampard, J Cole, Crouch can do that. Defoe should step up and do it. The England team Croatia met in Zagreb over 12 months ago will be a changed side come Wednesday. Robinson, G Neville, Ferdinand, Terry, Carragher, Carrick, Parker, Lampard, J Cole, Rooney, Crouch played a crumbling 3-5-2 amongst a rough pitch. This time it's New Wembley against potentially Robinson, Richards, Lescott, Campbell, Bridge, Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard, J Cole, Crouch, Defoe, an alternatively swifter England with strong, attacking full-backs, a keener hungrier Crouch and a hopefully just as keen Defoe.



Blogger T said...

Thanks Redsman for your commentary of yesterday's action.

I definitely differ with you on the reaction of Walcott. I saw the whole incident yesterday and was very happy to see four things from the Arsenal youngster.

First, the good skill and run leading up to earning the penalty. Second was his instant reaction to call for the ball - showing the determination and confidence to take the penalty that he earned himself. Third was his anger in being ordered not to take it - OK maybe he shouldn't have sworn but I was happy to see the anger and passion: he earned the penalty and WANTED to finish off his good work. Fourth, after Milner converted the penalty there was warm congratulations by Walcott for the Newcastle winger.

Every one of these reactions are important because they show Walcott not only has excellent talent but he has an inner determination and confidence to take charge. For Walcott to reach the top he needs to have a winner's mindset like that of Woods, Federer, Henry... and that's why I really liked what I saw from Walcott in that incident yesterday.

I also think Pearce would be happy with Walcott's reactions - apart from the expletive that is. He'll want Walcott to have that confidence and passion.

11/17/2007 2:06 pm

Blogger Skipper said...

I didn’t see the Theo incident. I am surprised to read this, he seems like such a level headed lad. I am sure this will be just an one off incident.

11/17/2007 2:06 pm

Blogger Skipper said...

T, I agree with you to some extent. I don't think swearing is a sign of inner confidence. There is difference between winner’s attitude and lack of respect. I can't accept a player swearing at a manager. This gives out the wrong message. I am sure Theo will apologise for his behaviour.

11/17/2007 2:11 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you will find that Pearce has commented that the incident is showing that Walcott is growing up. Try to make something of it if you will but I think your clutching at straws. Most people who have seen Walcott play this season have the opinion that the only thing missing in his game is self belief. If this is a sign that he is growing some then that can only be good for English football and his club.

11/17/2007 3:00 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Isnt he meant to have this self-belief in him already? Hasnt he played in the CL? Wouldnt you say it is this self-belief that other players have lacked why they have moved from the reserves and instead looked elsewhere to further first-team prospects?

Walcott cannot be lacking in self-belief. He knows what he can do, he has produced good performances when called upon, particularly with Arsenal. For the record, Pearce said this:

"[Milner] was selected to take penalties but credit to Theo. The way he was playing I'm not surprised he wanted to put himself up to take it.

"A year he ago he was a bit of an introvert and wouldn't want to put himself up for that but now all of a sudden he feels a big part of this team and wants to be a part of that.

"If we can get matches under his belt it's going to be a benefit to him and he's playing for Arsenal a touch more regularly this season and you can see that."

Frankly, had this been another player, there would have been uproar. Regardless of self-belief, growing up, first-team appearances, lack of, he won the penalty and there was a designated player to take it. There is no going against orders and the bench insisted Milner take the penalty, otherwise what was the point of a designated taker?

What if Pearce looked to play the moment down? Had that happened in the Premier League, say Berbatov towards Ramos, there would be a headline saying 'Berbatov shows further discontent at Spurs'. Sorry but most players would be glad that, having carved out such a good opening, they have gained an advantage for their team.


11/17/2007 4:58 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/18/2007 6:47 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

"What a waste of time; reading that pike of shite was.

Trying to make something out of nuffin. So a player swore? Big effin deal. You sound like one of those Mary Whitehouse stuffy twats who get their collective knickers in a twist coz there's a bit of smut on `eastenders!

Nob ead"

Reading that comment was a pike of whatever. Being up so early renders your volcabulary dormant, does it? That the best you can offer to disagree with the above? The point wasn't even about the swearing! And you call me a nob head, or 'ead'? Beggars belief. Either that or you want a negative reaction from me.

Making something out of nothing. Well, it was not the swearing that was the point, but if people simply read and digest instead of hearing one or two words and jumping at the gun, they would understand further. That is if they actually do read into things instead of over them.

The point was the attitude. You have a team of eleven out there, positioned, strategically instructed, which includes a designated taker for corners, freekicks, penalties. Designated takers are so for a reason. Walcott turned it into an issue when he should have left it to Milner as instructed from the outset.

There's no knocking that Walcott was keen to take it, there may have been a few more just as keen. Passionate as he was, he should have kept cool and allowed Milner to take responsibility.

Austria v England, two free-kicks, two corners and Beckham took them all. You dont see Lampard or Gerrard or any other player grabbing the ball and ignoring others as they put the ball down. Would Walcott have done the same thing with Arsenal? I doubt it. There is a rule to follow, strictly, why Wenger keeps a successful flow through the team.

It's team effort and all follow the instructions of the manager, you dont feel you can then step aside and do what you wish at a risk of disrupting the set plan. If I am making something out of nothing, why did the bench insist on Milner taking it? Why did Milner insist on taking it? Why not just leave it to Walcott?


11/18/2007 8:18 am

Anonymous Sue said...

RedsMan why are you even bothering answering the retard.

"t" I agree with every word and couldn't have put it better myself. The best is yet to be seen from this young man and I personally cant wait.

11/18/2007 9:39 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, 6 o'clock in the morning and you have the numpties up as well like cockerills! Ignore those stupid idiots, they dont do nothing but annoy people on purpose.

I liked the way Theo took on the players and he got us a penalty but he should listen to the boss if he is suppose to. It did look petty and he looked like a kid who didnt get his candy, bless! he had a good game and we won so he shouldnt lose his head (but he could do it if Milner didnt score!) Anyway roll on England we can now go and qualify now the Ruskies and the Croats messed up. Now we can great again. Cheers.

11/18/2007 12:27 pm

Blogger Skipper said...

Anonymous 6.47 am Shame on you.

11/18/2007 2:18 pm

Blogger Skipper said...

I have deleted that silly comment. It does not deserve coverage here.

11/18/2007 2:20 pm

Blogger T said...

I have not seen this comment but it seems from later comments that it deserved removal from the site.

Thanks Skipper for deleting the comment - we have a policy that comments that are insulting and/or abusive will as a last resort be taken off the site. At the same time we only utilise this exceptionally, as Redsman showed by keeping the comment on himself we are really reluctant to remove any comment because it goes against what we hope to provide: an open forum for all peoples opinions.

Thanks to Sue and the later anon for your comments. Yeah, its good that England now have a real chance of making Euro 2008. Only a draw required against Croatia who are already qualified so may have not have an edge in their game. It will be tense because Croatia have some good players: Eduardo da Silva and much-touted future Arsenal player, Modric, among others will ensure that England's defence are kept on their toes. But I expect (although nothing should be taken for granted when it comes to England) that we will do enough to get at least a point to go through.

A mention for Scotland and N Ireland: two fantastic performances of battling spirit and skill yesterday- the players and management of both deserve credit for bringing pride to their nations.

11/18/2007 4:00 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I plan to mention those teams, T, and England in my next article. does deserve mentioning. Sorry for the Scots.


11/18/2007 6:23 pm


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