Wednesday, October 16, 2013
8 MONTHS TO BRAZIL AND ENGLAND AND POLAND REMIND US THAT THE “BEAUTIFUL GAME” IS BACK. WELL DONE TO OUR NEIGHBOURS.
Brazil in 8 months time and it's the world cup, we can at last put aside the diversionary activities of tennis players, golfers, rugby players, cricketers and people running round in circles etc. and enjoy not the greatest game in the world but the 'ONLY' game in the world but first there was the small matter of England having to qualify.
England V Poland, it was for real and the chips were down. The superb setting of Wembley stadium; jam-packed and intense with expectation and not a little trepidation saw the evening start with an emotional tribute to the Polish airmen who fought with the RAF in WW2. As the Polish fans unfurled a massive banner depicting the Polish emblem which adorned their fighter planes when they took on the Luftwaffe, their English hosts paid tribute to the indomitable spirit and heroism of our Polish allies, a wonderful and poignant moment and the match turned out to be superbly entertaining as well. Sometimes the pressure and expectation of the fans can ruin such events but this was always going to be a cracker.
I promptly found myself wondering how England could all of a sudden become such a force after suffering such mediocrity for so long. Players like Rooney, Baines, Townsend and the phenomenal Danny Wellbeck swept forward with strength and skill and threatened to finish the game in a matter of minutes such was their dominance. The Poles however are no makeweights and they started to break forward with skill and the kind of speed that would alarm any defence, after 20 minutes both teams could have had a couple of goals each, pulsating stuff. The camera cruelly honed in on the elderly England manager Roy Hodges every time their goal survived a scare and the poor guy looked like he was ready to faint away, was it my imagination or were his minders keeping a particularly close eye on him?
The longer the game went on the more England started to dominate, a mixture perhaps of their resolve and the fact that psychologically the Polls were handicapped by the fact that they could not qualify but they bravely gave everything until the second goal went in late in the game from the determined play of Gerrad, the first was a classic overlap by Baines and a trademark Rooney finish with his head. Make no mistake about it this was a tremendous show by England against very talented opponents and it augers well for their World Cup hopes.
Mr. Hodges has 8 months to polish up the team and he will be aware that in players like Rooney, Wellbeck, Baines, Townsend, Sturrige and the re-emerging Wilshere he has a bunch of talented young players who would get a game with almost any team in the world. This is the time though when he has to be ruthless if he wants to triumph, there are some players still around who should be replaced such as Cole who is no match for Baines, Milner and Carrick who are strong and willing but can't cope with the skill and pace that is likely to be waiting in Brazil, Gerrard alas no longer has the wherewithal to dominate the midfield at this level and Lampard who in my opinion has become a liability as wily foreign coaches now prepare for breakaway attacks every time he smashes a free kick against the defensive wall and they pounce on the rebound some 40 or 50 yards back to form an attack.
It would be great to see England bring the world cup back to Britain and I'm sure that everyone in the UK would celebrate that. It would be a great party here in Scotland as well, how would wee Eck cope with it though?