ON a soaking wet, wintry November evening some 85,000 people took the trouble to turn up at Wembley – and were given absolutely nothing to cheer about. It all felt so flat, and so did England’s performance.
Fabio Capello’s men were very, very poor and never had France on the rack. What really worries me most of all is that I don’t know what direction we’re going in. I wonder whether Fabio does either.
Only Andy Carroll, making his debut, came out of the game with any credit from the England side. The Newcastle forward (right) didn’t get much service but showed he could compete at that level. I’d expect him to keep his place in the squad even when everyone is fit again.
CHESTS PUFFED OUT
Of the other prospects, emerging midfielder Jordan Henderson, also making his first start, and young full-back Kieran Gibbs both looked out of their depth. I think it’s far too early for Henderson, who to me is still finding his feet with Sunderland, while Gibbs looked like what he is: Arsenal’s reserve full-back.
The more experienced players were just as bad. I’m struggling to come to terms with what the one-paced Gareth Barry is doing there, while James Milner and Theo Walcott also disappointed me.
Cardiff’s Jay Bothroyd, the first player from outside the top flight to play for England since 2007, didn’t get many touches after coming on, but looked comfortable on the ball. Goalkeeper Ben Foster was not good.
Like England, France had a terrible World Cup and are undergoing a rebuilding process. But they’ll have left Wembley with their chests puffed out and believing they can win Euro 2012.
What they have that England don’t is players who want to take the ball and dictate the play. Karim Benzema might have been dangerous up front but it was Samir Nasri and Yoann Gourcuff in midfield controlling the game.
HUFF AND PUFF
England are desperately missing a playmaker. They need someone who will come and get the ball, give it, get it back, then give it again – not go missing or look to offload it and then run away, like some at the moment.
International football is all about one-touch, the style of game that teams like Arsenal and Barcelona play, and England are a million miles away from that.
Capello’s first defeat came against France almost three years ago, and in that time I don’t think England have progressed. The Italian did well in World Cup qualification but he does not look the same man now. The woeful tournament itself seems to still be affecting him – maybe he needs to be stricter again – as well as the players.
The pressure on him increases, but I think it’ll take much more to lose him the job. England will huff and puff and get to Euro 2012, and probably through the group stage. But the problem is England have this psyche that, as long as we get there, it’ll be alright on the night. Well it won’t; we’ve proved that.
HIT OR MISS?
Fabio Capello handed debuts to Andy Carroll, Jordan Henderson and Jay Bothroyd. Only the Toon striker can be truly happy with his night’s work. By James Goldman
Good feet for a big man. Where have we heard that before? At least Carroll looks more than useful in the air though
Not a great start for Henderson, but, unlike Gareth Barry, seems to understand the concept of passing to a white shirt
Harsh, but lets hope Bothroyd’s family got some nice photos of him in an England strip, it won’t be happening again. Out of his depth.