The things we learnt – England v Bulgaria
Because everyone loves a kneejerk reaction
To be fair, Defoe simply played last night simply how Defoe can. The performance and finishes reminded me of the home game against Wigan last season. He hung on the last shoulder of the defenders, but also added more than that, linking play, harrying down defenders and even winning the ball in the air. With Rooney in a withdrawn role, Defoe has the chance to firmly place himself at the pinnacle of England’s attacking shape. Dare it be said, but Jermain Defoe looked like Michael Owen circa 2001 last night. And long may that continue.
A warm Hart
If we are talking about players that may have cemented themselves in the national team, Joe Hart’s your man. Hart has not conceded from open play this season, and last night played with an assurance sadly lacking from previous incumbents. Shot stopping, handling and distribution were all faultless. Short display of keepy-uppy after 80 minutes showed that he has confidence beyond his years. Quite possibly the England keeper for the next ten years.
New role for Rooney
Let’s get the negatives out the way. He is still not scoring goals, despite Capello’s insistence that Wayne has returned to form. His first touch was still not faultless, but that hides the clear positives. Rooney was involved in three goals, and had his delicate chip beaten Mikhailov, would have capped an encouraging night. Slightly more interesting is Capello’s insistence that he allowed Rooney to play in a deeper free role. Has Wayne found his natural England position?
Friday night’s alright
The jury is probably still out on the new scheduling of international matches. There were travel issues (rush hour traffic on the M1 and 40 minutes leaving the ground on a personal note) and the reason for 17 000 empty seats will need to be determined. However, Wembley looked fantastic. There is something inately exciting about an evening game at the national stadium. The arch looks beautiful and the atmosphere electric. And a 4-0 win damn well helps.
Where does Lampard fit in?
I’ll be honest with you (and don’t let it affect our readership)… I really like Frank Lampard. I respect anyone as one of the greatest midfield players of our generation that has scored 120 goals in five years
He isn’t fat. He is fit. He is world class. But is he going to struggle to get back into the side?
In this formation, if Capello wants Gerrard to stay in the centre, then Lampard can only replace Barry. The other option is clearly to move Gerrard to the left and swap Lampard for Milner. If England perform in Basel, the question may be more pertinent.
Harry Redknapp will be watching through his fingers
It seems that Defoe will be fit for Tuesday, but that makes Harry no less nervous. Michael Dawson’s injury last night looked serious, catching his studs in the turf. The potential for ligament damage is evident. Harry needs Defoe to come through unscathed on Tuesday.
As an aside, in England’s premilinary World Cup squad there were six Spurs players. This squad contained two (although Crouch has an injury). The likes of Lennon, Huddlestone and King have much to prove to Capello. Hell, even Jenas played for England ten months ago.
It is, to me, the depths of international football. No matter what the situation, inebriation or intoxication, I will never partake. The Mexican Wave. It was started in 1986. So was The Final Countdown and Pet Shop Boys. To me, they are equivalent. I do not want to hear or see them in 2010. It will make no difference, but it is a personal crusade.
And don’t even start with it happening in the first half.