England vs. Spain

A friendly is a friendly. Arranged specifically for the two coaches to learn more about their respective sides. So here are 10 things Fabio should have learnt from Saturday night.

  1. England will not beat Spain in the Euros – Forget the result. Yes, England pulled a performance out of the bag that was exceptional defensively but I’m afraid there is no way that will be repeated come tournament time. England managed just 29% possession and 3 shots on goal in comparison to Spain’s 21. There is no way Spain will draw a blank again given similar statistics in the summer. Fact.
  1. Terry and Ferdinand are not indispensable – Whilst Terry’s absence may just be temporary, indeed I would expect him to be re-instated once this row is over, Rio’s looks more permanent. Lescott and Jagielka were superb on Saturday; both putting in industrious performances full of high-class blocks and tackles. Not mention Gary Cahill waiting to return to a position he occupied during the Euro qualifiers. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are also biding their time, ready to inherit their rightful positions at the heart of England’s back 4. One would hope clean sheets could now be a regular feature of England matches.
  1. Phil Jones is not a midfielder – Phil Jones is a classy young footballer. Absolutely terrific defender who has impressed Sir Alex Ferguson so much, he is challenging Ferdinand and Vidic for their positions week in, week out. So why Mr Capello, would you play him in midfield? Against the world’s best in Xavi and Iniesta. An experiment that was never going to work. Let’s not mess the most naturally talented footballer England have had in years around any longer.
  1. England miss Wayne Rooney – A rather obvious choice, but one highlighted even further during Saturday’s win. Darren Bent tried damn hard and covered many a mile for the cause but his game just doesn’t suit the one-up-top style Capello was looking for as Bent is an out-and-out goal scorer. Rooney slots in well at the top of a formation, holding the ball up and playing off others around him, so if Capello is to play in this manner at the Euros, the reduction of Wayne’s suspension is crucial.
  1. Jack Rodwell’s career is back on track – Make no mistake, the Evertonian midfielder finally looks like achieving the potential he displayed so much of as a 16-year-old. Whether hype or injuries have held him back is unclear, but there is no doubt the Goodison Park faithful feared for his future during a poor season last year. Ross Barkley’s emergence in the Toffees’ midfield may have spurred him on, but hopefully his form is here to stay. Well in contention for a Euro squad place now, Capello himself acknowledged as much.

    Rodwell is beginning to look the part

  1. The future is bright – Rodwell has already been mentioned, but two other unknown quantities shone on Saturday when coming off the substitute’s bench. Both Danny Welbeck and Kyle Walker have advanced their claims to securing places in the Three Lions’ squad. Welbeck in particular showed an energy upfront that troubled the Spanish defence and his pace could be a crucial factor in deciding which striker will replace Rooney. Daniel Sturridge will get his chance on Tuesday as well. Happy days.
  1. Scott Parker was criminally ignored – What a terrific performance. From his last-ditch tackle on Gerard Pique to the numerous interceptions and challenges he produced, Parker looked every inch the part of a world-class holding midfielder. Something England have been denied ever since Owen Hargreaves’ injury woes. The question on everyone’s mind will be why it took Capello so long to throw him in there when he was obviously the best man for the job.
  1. England are better tactically – Although I made earlier criticisms of the fact England will never beat Spain playing like that again, Capello has recognised the side’s limitations and acted upon it. Tactical naivety could lead to footballing suicide, rather like the performance on show in Bloemfontein last July. Unfortunately,England will never beat Spain at their own game and therefore it is good to see lessons have been learnt from the disaster of the World Cup.
  1. The pressure is on – I’m not sure if victory was entirely a good thing. No doubt our sensationalist press will jump straight on the bandwagon, install England as outright favourites and except us to win every game 5-0. Then cut the boys down from their pedestals with a resounding thump when the inevitable happens. There is no doubt England can take heart from such a result but caution has to be applied, both in and outside the dressing room. The players need to keep their heads screwed on, avoid any unwanted publicity (I’m looking at you John Terry) and look to build on a performance that does looks rather deceptive on paper, but altogether encouraging.

Oh and Number 10. Cesc Fabregas – What is going on? Has the Barcelona move transformed you altogether? Cut your hair son, you look like a muppet.

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