For those fanatics prepared to sit up awaiting their 2a.m. 'fix', below is something to help you while away the first couple of hours!!!
Sweden 2 England 3. A different point of View.
If there is such a word as ‘shambolic’, then that would be the appropriate word to describe the first seventy minutes of this game. Neither side appeared to have any particular tactical plan in its approach to this game. Five goals would normally indicate an exciting game, but the dominant excitement during this period was experienced from trying to guess which team was going to make the next ‘junior football’ error. The two goals England conceded were such that even the Blackpool defence, of two seasons ago, would have been ashamed! Given that there were three totally unmarked Swedish players waiting eagerly at the far post for the cross from the left, I don’t understand Zid, why you describe the goal as lucky. Walcott’s goal presumably represented the Swedish goalkeepers desire to be replaced; the Carroll goal was a classic of its kind and, mercifully, injected the single moment of international standard football produced by either side, prior to the final twenty minutes. Walcott’s contribution to the winning goal re-enforced the message the Udon Forum Football Experts (UFFE) have been trying to ram into Hodgson head since his appointment, (i.e. goals win games, and goals cannot be scored while defending). Welbeck’s neat finishing touch confirmed his promise, notwithstanding his main contribution, in this game, was his unbounded enthusiasm. Around the seventieth minute, facing an ignominious defeat and equally ignominious exit from the tournament, Hodgson was forced to do the, for him, unthinkable, and bring on at least one of the few attack minded players, possessing flair, he had fortuitously included in his selected squad. The thought that he would necessarily have to further compound this abandonment of his deeply imbedded defensive philosophy by ordering his team to go on the offensive and actually try to score a (winning) goal, must have driven him almost to the point of resigning his managership, as being the lesser of two heartrending choices. To their credit the England players recovered with remarkable speed from the double shock of witnessing Hodgson substitute a defender for an attacking ‘free soul’ and, at the same time , receive his history making instructions to go into immediate attacking mode and actually make scoring a goal their top priority. With Walcott immediately going into action on the right flank, and Young, finally being freed to play his natural attacking style wife on the left flank, ( presumably released from the shackles of Hodgson ‘defend first’ doctrine), looking the player we know him to be, the England team suddenly looked balanced, revitalized , organized, and eager to play. Importantly the players seemed suddenly shorn of the tenseness which had been pervading the whole team, and looked organized and exuded confidence; in marked contrast to the earlier part of this game, and the game against France. The resultant final outcome and the means of its achievement, spoke loudly and clearly to Hodgson. The dual question is: “Was Hodgson listening, and is he prepared to make adjustments in his approach and his philosophy; or is he going to prove to be just another Capello or McLaren?”
To all UFFE Committee members: Re: England v Ukraine.
John Terry. After specifically monitoring his performance against Sweden, I noted that he has now well nigh mastered the art of ‘being where opponents with the ball are not’. I say ‘well nigh, as Terry actually slipped up on three occasions against Sweden, as a result of which he found himself faced with the necessity to actually make a tackle. On two occasions he solved his dilemma by the simple expedient of accidentally becoming tangled up with his opponent resulting in their both going to ground. On the third occasion although given a yard start, I think it was by Abrahmovic, he was left for dead, and a goal very nearly resulted. It is no coincidence that Lescott, who has been forced to defend in both, left and right, central channels because of Terry’s failure to share the burden, has been nothing less than magnificent. I consider Lescott has now emerged as a player of true world class. His displays in the two games to date are a major factor in England now being likely to go forward to the knockout stage. Equally there is no doubt in my mind that Terry’s ‘tactics’ (?), and glaring shortcomings have been fully noted, most particularly by Spain & Croatia, and he is now a disaster waiting to happen. It is time for Hodgson to demonstrate to doubters, ( who include me), that he has the courage to make the hard decisions, in preference to the politically safe and easy ones, and drop Terry , in favour of the currently far superior talents of Jagielka. I have noted that all my fellow Committee members make reference to the ‘fatigue’ of Gerrard & Parker. I was not aware of any media mention regarding this, so don’t know if this ‘fatigue’ factor comes from that source, or is an observation emanating from the Committee? I agree that Gerrard’s performance against Sweden was very lack lustre by his high standards, and also felt Parker fell well below his, normally high, standards in the same match. While watching, I wondered to what extent frustration with the imposition of the defensive strictures and tactics, and the resultant disappointing performances under this new regime were factors. In any event, there are not any players available in this England squad, who I consider can remotely bring to this team, the world class qualities possessed by these two England stalwarts; certainly not Henderson, at this stage of his career, Lampard being the much preferred substitution option, if the need arises, and certainly not Henderson, at this earlt stage of his international career. The decision to play Rooney in this, and any subsequent games, was made when the squad was announced. Although understanding the argument for his being partnered by Club mate Welbeck, I think considerations of team balance, experience, power to unsettle defenders and heading favour the selection of Carroll, as first choice. Although obviously a player of great promise Welbeck, showed against Sweden he has yet to learn to temper a tendency towards rashness in his decision making. Incidentally, currently I would also place DeFoe ahead of Welbeck as first Substitute, because of his outstanding goal scoring record in that position. Even though Zidine is probably correct that Hodgson may consider it a bridge too far to include yet another midfield attacking player in Walcott and select Stuart’35 appearances without scoring’ Downing, I don’t think he will;, if only for the reason that he has been hoisted with his own petard by praising Walcott so highly, at his post match press conference. In any event, Bob has expressly forbidden Downing’s selection! So for the Committee’s kind consideration, before passing on to Hodgson, I formally propose the following team to play against the highly dangerous Ukraine, as demonstrated by their world ranking at 62!
Formation 4; 4; 2. Hart; Johnson, Lescott, Jagielka & Cole; Walcott, Gerrard, Parker & Young; Rooney & Carroll.
Subs: Green, Terry, Lampard, Milner, Chamberlain, Welbeck & DeFoe.
There, the above should keep you , (Happily??), occupied until the start of whichever match has been selected for your viewing pleasure in the wee small hours!