Tuesday, 15 November 2011

England 1 v Sweden 0 - International Match

Tuesday 15th November 2011, at Wembley Stadium
England (1) 1
A Barry cum Majstorovic OG combination 22 minutes
Sweden (0) 0
Admission £40, Programme £6, Attendance 48,876
England: Hart (Carson 46), Walker, Cahill, Terry, Baines, Rodwell (Milner 58), Jones, Barry, Walcott (Sturridge 58), Zamora (Bent 70), Downing.
Subs Not Used: Glen Johnson, Cole, Lescott, Parker, Lampard, Adam Johnson, Stockdale.
Sweden: Isaksson, Lustig (Wilhelmsson 54), Mellberg (Jonas Olsson 46), Majstorovic, Martin Olsson, Wernbloom, Kallstrom (Svensson 70), Larsson, Elmander, Elm (Bajrami 87), Ibrahimovic (Toivonen 46).
Subs Not Used: Wiland, Granqvist, Safari, Gerndt, Almeback, Holmen.Another pre Euro 2012 warm up game in preparation for the real thing, with even more emerging international players of the future being promoted up through the ranks.
Could it be that the bulk of the under achieving old guard are being dispensed with and Fabio Capello is prepared to put his trust in the next generation instead?
There are promising signs that he just might be.
Jack Rodwell and Kyle Walker both made exceptionally good début performances tonight, Phil Jones continues to impress in the hole between defence and midfield ... and although it is important to remember the two Wembley outings over the past four days weren't actually competitive games, I'm going to indulge myself a little and allow some cautious optimism to creep into my overview of the state of the England national team at this moment in time.
Of course, Capello could always just resort to the 'same old, same old' when he selects his squad to take to Poland and the Ukraine in June, but here's hoping he won't and that a brave new dawn is beginning to emerge over the not too distant horizon.
Of course, it's always a good fall back plan to take a couple of experienced old heads with you when embarking on a major tournament campaign, but there is still plenty of time for the more recent additions to the squad to get a few more games in and get some much needed experience themselves, before the 'real' stuff begins in earnest.
Two players I would definitely want on the plane to Poland would be Stewart Downing and Theo Walcott.The former excelled tonight and was the engine room of the team, whilst the link up with Kyle Walker seemed to untether the latter from other duties and with his new found freedom Theo gave the Swedish defence a real run-around at times ... they had to resort to kicking him in the end, because he was unplayable in spells.
There have been times in the past when Walcott hasn't really lived up to all the hype that surrounded him when he burst onto the international scene, but he's definitely coming into his prime now.
Maybe he was chucked in at the deep end a fraction too soon by previous England coaching staff? Either way, he wasn't found wanting against Sweden and might just be reaching his peak at exactly the right time.
The only position I have a real worry about, is that of the goalkeeper.
Joe Hart gets better and better and looks more comfortable every time he pulls on the England shirt and he's made the number 1 position his own.
But my concern is, who would fill his position if Hart was injured and unable to play?
There are back up keepers who are top class, but are they really international class?
Or anything resembling world class?
Those are rhetorical questions, I already know the answer to.
Fabio Capello gave Scott Carson 45 minutes after the break, evidently a similar scenario has crossed his mind too.
And although Carson had a comfortable outing and kept a clean sheet, Sweden didn't exactly test him too often.
Whereas England had absorbed a lot of pressure against Spain and then floored them with a sucker punch when Frank Lampard (either by accident or design) had popped up in the right place at the right time ... tonight they created chance upon chance and Sweden can count their blessings that they weren't on the end of a much bigger margin of defeat.
Wayne Rooney will miss the start of the 2012 tournament, but there are a far more solutions to that problem these days, than there ever was before in recent times. In fact, the various permutations that could be used are going to pose Capello with a real selection headache when he finalises his squad.
I wouldn't even rule out leaving Rooney behind altogether.
He might well be our best player (and he is), but football is a team game, it isn't about individuals.
We need Rooney for the group games, but there is only one person responsible for him not being available for them ... and that is Rooney himself.
That said, if England progress through from the opening group, he's one hell of an additional player to unleash in the knock out stages ... and then some.
That's called sitting on the fence, where I come from ;-)
Ironically, England's 2,000th ever goal was scored by a Swede, Daniel Majstorovic, who helped Gareth Barry's goal-bound effort on it's way into the back of the net ... a Celtic player scoring an own goal for England, never mind eh!?
On the way home, our pilot Stuart Eyre did a great job of circumnavigating the craziness of North London and had us back on the M1 in no time at all, while we listened to a radio phone in where England fans were being asked to select their first eleven to play at the opening game of Euro 2012.
I was mystified that not one of them even mentioned Joleon Lescott, because I reckon (hope even) that he's an England captain in the making.
Mind you, there are a lot of people in this country who make decisions without thinking things through first ... such as the people responsible for turning the M1 northbound into a single lane road for miles upon miles when we're all trying to get home. I know just the place you can stick one of those 11,678 traffic cones.Much was being made about the low attendance figure.
Almost 49,000, for a midweek fixture, a few days after Spain visited Wembley is hardly a disaster.
Is it?
I've seen much lower crowds than this at the old Wembley Stadium.
Not everybody can get the time off work to travel into London twice, or has the money to spare for two match tickets.
It did take a lot of organising to get around the logistics required ... and I did have a bloody good moan when I first heard they had arranged the extra Tuesday night game ... but in hindsight, two back to back games in such close proximity to each othe,r will have done the England team's preparations a power of good and the exercise has been a great success.
That said, I won't be travelling quite as far for the rest of this week.
Back to back wins and two clean sheets against the reigning champions of the world and a Scandanvian team England haven't beaten for 43 years ... I'll take that, thanks very much :-)
A parting shot, taken outside Tesco Express, while we
were stocking up for the journey home.

Next up: Either Harworth Colliery Institute U19's v Matlock Town, or Retford United U19's v Radford, tomorrow night, depending on whether I get the wiring fault on my car sorted or not.
BTW Stuart, the pussy is on the mend, thanks for your concern ;-)