Sunday, 22 May 2016

England 2 v Turkey 1 - International Match

Sunday 22nd May 2016
International Match
at the Ethiad Stadium
England (1) 2
Harry Kane 3, Jamie Vardy 83
Turkey (1) 1
Hakan  Calhanoglu 13
Attendance 44,866
Starting line ups:
Roy Hodgson is now the sixth England manager to have reached 50 games in charge of the national team, a total previously amassed by Walter Winterbottom, Alf Ramsey, Ron Greenwood, Bobby Robson and Sven-Göran Eriksson.
In spite of the 100% win record in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, the England manager still has his doubters and detractors, but the underlying crux of a lot of that criticism seems to stem from the fact that he doesn't come across as some chirpy, publicly consumable wide boy type, with a top heavy sound bite quota of witty quips (which, thankfully, also means he isn't Harry Redknapp), or that he hasn't picked player X, Y or Z who plays for some moaning chuff piece's favourite team. 
The problem with the national side, is that everybody thinks they are an expert.
But, I'm happy to keep schtum and leave it all in Roy's capable hands, he seems to know what he is doing and is the best man for the job, for now.
Give me gritty realism and solid foundations over 'England's dreaming' any time.
The chief belting out the national anthem
Talent alone will win nothing, team work, hard graft and resilience are required too, the England team is heading in the right direction and Hodgson deserves the credit for charting it's course.
Isn't it time the country got behind Hodgson's side and grew out of the negative mindset that prevails every time England qualify for a major tournament? I believe that a large percentage of so called football fans want to see England perpetually fail at major tournaments, so they can bask in their 'told you so' gloating.
Northern Ireland and Wales won't win Euro 2016 either, but I don't see any of their fans getting into a state about it.
Embrace the positives, wise up to the vast amount of progress that is being made, enjoy the growth that is flourishing from the seeds that are being sown for future generations... and shut the fuck up moaning!
No doubt the attendance figure at the Ethiad Stadium, was affected by the game being played on a Sunday evening, when staying at home and watching the game on TV would mean avoiding the logistics of getting home from the north west for a lot of supporters.
The FA had also staged both the Vase and Trophy finals at Wembley Stadium earlier today in front of 46,781 non league fans, which is an impressive number, even when you consider that Hereford, Halifax Town and Grimsby Town will have had decent followings there.
Regardless of what a few knee jerk reactionary types were mithering on about on Twitter, I have very serious doubts that either of today's football events would have had impacted on the crowd figure at the other one. 
Personally I have attended numerous Vase and Trophy finals (and not all of them were contested at Wembley Stadium), but if England didn't have a fixture today, I would have gone to Newcastle, for the Rugby League 'magic weekend' at St James' Park instead, which, in the event, was attended by a record attendance of 68,276 this year.
The Ethiad Stadium is a brisk 20 minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly railway station, though it does take a little while longer if your dearly beloved is suffering from severe back pain and needs to take things a bit more leisurely.
I treated her to a bus ride on the way back into the city centre, which cheered her up no end, until she saw the ridiculous amount of people that First Trans Pennine Express were attempting to cram into our two unit locomotive for the eastbound trip home via Sheffield.
The ensuing forty five minutes were akin to getting shoved head first into an unpleasantly hot (no air con) cross between the traditional annual Shrovetide Tuesday fixture in Ashbourne and a mass (and very sweaty) version of Extreme Twister, played out to a backdrop of cringe-worthy songs from: "Now that's what I call Tourette's" (think Black Lace with Chubby Brown on vocals, you get the picture) and the puke worthy stench of beery farts.
Not if.
But definitely when... somebody gets seriously hurt due to OTT overcrowding on a train, the operating companies will eventually get around to rectifying the situation.
Who could ever have imagined, that the sight of Sheffield Midland Station coming into view could ever pre-empt such a massive outpouring of raucous cheer and goodly vibes?
Who was it that used to say: "Let the train take the strain" on those TV adverts?
Oh yeah, I remember... Jimmy Saville!!!!
Oh... and while I think on; there was a game of football being played at Manchester City's new(ish) ground today too.
Turkey have been on a roll of late and were unbeaten in 13 straight games, over the past 18 month, prior to this evening.
England were minus any player who took part in yesterday's FA Cup Final and Turkey had a few pivotal players missing from their ranks too.
Harry Kane opened the scoring on three minutes, but the lively Turks equalised after 13, through Hakan Calhanoglu. 
Jack Wilshere demonstrated a quite remarkable range of passing and looked very comfortable in possession. 
It needs to be said that the Arsenal player was strong in the tackle too and never shied away from any physical stuff, like so many others understandably do when returning from injury. When he's on top of his game, he is a pleasure to watch, but there are times when he also looks out of place and seems to struggle fitting into the national sides playing system and becomes virtually anonymous.
Kane missed a second half penalty, but Jamie Vardy netted the winning goal with 7 minutes left to go.
Mr Hodgson tried out different tactical formations in each half, Raheem Sterling didn't seem particularly effective as part of either system that was employed. 
Vardy looks more comfortable playing centrally than wide and defensively there is room for improvement... and other than that, there are dozens of match reports elsewhere on line, written by real reporters, who all have a better vocabulary than me and do this kind of thing for a living. They can describe all the fleshy parts between the skeletal overview that I have provided. So if you need to know 'owt else... go and seek out what they've got to say about the game, because I'm having the rest of the night off.
FT: England 2 v Turkey 1
Cautious optimism is pumping within my heart, for the long term development of the England team.
But it's not going to happen overnight.
No doubt I'll see some of you at Eastwood Community FC's Coronation Park ground for tomorrow night's Notts Senior Cup Final between Basford United and Clipstone, which kicks off at 7.30pm.